Interview with Mr Sivesh Kathir Kamarajah by Dr Jeremy Meyer

JM SKKSivesh Kathir Kamarajah is a NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. He is a steering committee member for the International, multicentre prospective cohort study, Oesophagogastric Anastomosis Audit (OGAA), the ESCP Safe-anastomosis Programme in Colorectal Surgery (EAGLE) and the Roux Group. He has published more than 50 PubMed articles and delivered at more than 70 national and international meetings. In 2018, he was awarded an “Excellence in Research Award in Hepatobilliary and Pancreas” by the American College of Surgeons.

Jeremy Meyer (JM): Thank you Mr. Sivesh Kathir Kamarajah for sharing with us your expert view on academic research in surgery as senior lead of STARSurg.

Sivesh Kathir Kamarajah (SKK): Thanks Dr Meyer for your kind invitation.

JM: If I understand it correctly, the STARSurg (Student Audit and Research in Surgery) collaborative is an international student-led audit and research network with representation from all clinical medical schools in United Kingdom and Ireland. Could you please tell us more about the history behind the creation of STARSurg?

SKK: STARSurg was initially founded in 2013 by a group of surgical trainees and medical students with the aims of involving medical students and trainees into collaborative research. Previously, it was felt that students and trainees were not able to get involved in audit and research due to varying structural organizations which made it difficult for them. STARSurg helps with that. Since 2013, we have led and delivered eight national and international cohort studies across UK, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. These studies span >35,000 patients involving >8,000 collaborators leading to >25 papers and >60 presentations.



JM: What were the initial expectations when creating STARSurg and what are its aims now?

SKK: STARSurg has met all our expectations and aims, and we will continue to build larger cohort studies to continually empower students and trainees in surgical research.

JM: May I ask you who can join STARSurg, and what are the advantages of joining the collaborative?

SKK: STARSurg is a student-led research group across the UK. Current committee includes students across the UK and Ireland with a few postgraduate trainees in the main committee. We have an external advisory group of consultant surgeons and perioperative medicine to mentor and guide us along the way. We are open and welcome to new ideas and collaborations from external groups and we have actively worked with EuroSurg and TASMAN over the past few years.

JM: What educational tools do you provide to people joining STARSurg?

SKK: STARSurg develops educational modules for each cohort study to train medical students and trainees prior to the launch of these studies. These modules act as quality assurance to ensure that accurate data is collected. We have also recently launched the INCEPT platform which aims to students and trainees with ressources to learn skills on collaborative research, systematic reviews and clinical trials. It also provides students with modules on application into surgical training and how to write research papers. We have more modules being developed.

JM: In what research projects in the field of colorectal surgery is STARSurg involved?

SKK: We recently collaborated with EuroSurg on a cohort study related to the placement of intra-abdominal drains in patients undergoing colorectal surgery.

JM: And what future developments do you see for STARSurg?

SKK: Currently, we are close to finishing a cohort study, CASCADE, which aims to define postoperative cardiovascular complications following major abdominal surgery and which includes patients across UK and Europe. This is the biggest cohort study we have done so far, involving >20,000 patients. Our aim would be to generate a few hypotheses from the dataset to further understand implications of these complications on patients and publications which are impactful in perioperative medicine. Further, we are in the process of developing a cohort study which is pan-specialty across gastroenterology, surgery, and perioperative medicine in acute pancreatitis.

JM: To conclude this interview, would you like to leave a message for young trainees motivated by surgical research?

SKK: I believe that trainees are an important source of motivation for moving clinical research forward from conception & development of a study idea right up to delivery of the project. Trainees and students should always be empowered and supported to be involved in research. Strong mentorship and being in the right environment are key for them to grow and develop into future leaders.

JM: Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us, and again, congratulations for your impressive dedication to academic research in surgery.