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Royal College of Surgeons appoint Surgical Specialty Leads in Pancreatic Cancer and Oesophageal Cancer

Posted by: Policy and campaigning 6 November 2018

The Royal College of Surgeons has appointed two new RCS Surgical Specialty Leads (SSLs). The appointments have been made in collaboration with the AUGIS, leading pancreatic cancer charities and Heartburn Cancer UK.

Mr Keith Roberts is the new SSL in Pancreatic Cancer, part-funded by the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and Pancreatic Cancer UK. He took up his post at the start of September. Professor Tim Underwood has been appointment as the new SSL in Oesophageal Cancer, part-funded by Heartburn Cancer UK and AUGIS.

The RCS Surgical Trials Initiative, with key partners, will provide a broad base of support for the SSLs. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) surgical specialty group will provide an infrastructure to ensure wide publicity for national participation in these portfolio studies.

Professor Dion Morton, RCS Director of Clinical Research, said:

“The RCS is delighted to be working with AUGIS and three new funders in Pancreatic Cancer Research UK, Pancreatic Cancer Relief Fund and Heartburn Cancer UK. The support of these partners in creating the two exciting new Surgical Specialty Lead positions will build on our work in driving clinical research in all specialties and will, as a result, impact on the care being provided to patients suffering from Oesophageal and Pancreatic Cancers.”

The Surgical Specialty Leads will act as a key link between the designated Surgical Trials Centres and national clinical research networks within their disciplines. They will work with the Centres to develop clinical networks, train surgical investigators and deliver clinical trials.

They will also work towards establishing two new trials over their first three-year tenure and train at least one surgical chief investigator, as well as 20 principal investigators within their discipline.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Roberts said:

“I will bring together clinicians and trainees to develop and deliver multicentre studies with the aim of improving the delivery of care to patients with pancreatic cancer as well as developing novel strategies to tackle this disease.”

Professor Underwood said of his appointment:

“This is an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of upper GI surgical research. It is clear to me that we must build own the successes of the regional trainee collaboratives and large-scale snap-shot audits to drive the next generation of surgical trials.  

“With the support of Heartburn Cancer UK and AUGIS, I will facilitate a new cadre of surgical researchers who will deliver practice changing trials. This is an exciting time to bring together advances in molecular and translational science and surgery.  We aim to place UK surgeons at the forefront of world-leading surgical research over the next decade.”

Richard Hardwick, AUGIS Past-President, said:

“AUGIS is delighted to be working with Heartburn Cancer UK, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and Pancreatic Cancer UK to support these new senior research posts.

“The RCS SSL programme has a proven track record supporting the development of multi-centre trials and we look forward to seeing new research proposals in upper gastro-intestinal surgery as a result of this exciting collaboration.”

Anna Jewell, Director of Operations for Pancreatic Cancer UK, said:

“We’re delighted to be joint-funding this new post which we hope will be instrumental in encouraging more surgical research into pancreatic cancer.

“For too long the deadliest common cancer has been neglected. We must see research investment vastly increase to £25 million a year by 2022 if we’re to unlock the breakthroughs urgently needed to improve survival.”

Maggie Blanks, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, said:

“Our focus will always be to use research to increase the survival rate for pancreatic cancer. We’re happy to co-fund this role because it provides leadership and support in developing clinical trials to test surgical innovations and practices that could improve patient outcomes - areas in which Professor Roberts has both passion and experience.”