• Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgeon. University of Oxford and Imperial College NHS Trust London
• Surgical Specialty Lead for Plastic and Hand Surgery, Royal College of Surgeons of England
• Founder and Lead for the Reconstructive Surgery Trials Network.
• Chairman BAPRAS Research Committee 2016-2018
• Member BSSH Research Committee 2012-2019
Career to date
• MBBS (UMDS), MSc (UCL) and PhD (Imperial College London) University of London.
• Pan-Thames Plastic Surgical Rotation London
• Post-CCT Fellowships Congenital Hand Surgery (Great Ormond Street Hospital), Aesthetics (Wellington) and Microsurgery (Imperial College NHS Trust London)
Why did you decide to get involved in research?
I have always been interested in research and decided that I wanted to get a feel for it when I was a plastic surgery SHO. However, back in the late 1990’s the opportunities were limited. I undertook an MSc at UCL and it became clear that my project investigating the biology of tendon rupture in rheumatoid arthritis was of clinical importance. After completing my MSc I started my 3 year PhD (a total of 4 years of formal research training). I thoroughly enjoyed my time in research as it allowed me to become an expert in the field and make a significant contribution to the understanding of this condition. When I finished my research and re-entered full time clinical training I kept my basic science work slowly cooking in the background. This allowed me to seamlessly step back into the labs six years later to develop the first mouse model of implant fixation using a device designed for human use.
In 2013 the Royal College of Surgeons launched their surgical trials initiative and I put myself forward to represent both Plastic (BAPRAS) and Hand (BSSH) Surgery. As part of this I founded the Reconstructive Surgery Trials Network (RSTN) with Matthew Gardiner. The RSTN has flourished and now delivers coordinated clinical studies across the United Kingdom and has International collaboration.
What is your area of research interest?
My background is in molecular biology and translational research but I now concentrate on clinical trials and large scale clinical studies in both plastic and hand surgery
How have you managed to combine clinical work with research?
This is not easy. There is great pressure to deliver a high quality clinical service and at the same time produce world class cutting edge research. I am very lucky to have the support of my clinical colleagues at Imperial and the backing of the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford. The Royal College of Surgeons, BAPRAS and the BSSH have provided strong support and vision to recognize the importance of encouraging clinical academics. My clinical work complements my research interest, making it much easier to combine these two aspects.
What have been the sources of your research funding?
Currently I have obtained over £1.75 million in research grants from organisations such as the NIHR, ARCUK, HEFCE and smaller grants from the RCS, BAPRAS and BSSH as well as various charities.
What are the benefits and challenges of being a clinical academic?
An academic career combining surgery and research is not for everyone. The path is long and difficult. It is essential that you excel in your clinical ability as well as deliver on your research. However, the positives far out-strip the negatives. There is an immense feeling of satisfaction in knowing that you are making a significant contribution to your specialty and to improving your patients’ care. An academic career allows you to be at the cutting edge of science and provides you with many skills that enhance your clinical practice