It was an honour and privilege to win the BJS Society prize for the Best of the Six Best for my paper entitled “The healing effect of mesenchymal adipose-tissue-derived stem cells on colonic anastomosis under ischaemic conditions” which I presented on 26th September 2014 at the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) Annual Scientific Meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

Tony MakIt was a pleasant surprise to learn that having won this prestigious prize, there would be an opportunity to present our work again in June 2015 at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston.  The reason for this is that there is a reciprocal relationship and good will between ESCP and the ASCRS, which allow their respective recipients to present their research work at both meetings.  I would like to express my deepest gratitude to ASCRS for inviting me to participate in their meeting, and also to ESCP for their generosity in financially supporting my travel and accommodation expenses.

I decided to travel earlier and attended the Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (AIN) and High Resolution Anoscopy (HRA): What the Colorectal Surgeon Needs to Know workshop, as I wanted to know more on this subject.  The workshop proved to be very worthwhile with lectures by experts in this field.  During the morning session, I learnt a lot of lesion identification, management and treatment plan.  There was also hands-on teaching on how to use the HRA and the Hyfrecator for the diagnosis and treatment of AIN, both of which I found extremely useful.

The ASCRS annual scientific meeting this year had again assembled an excellent programme.  The meeting provided an excellent academic forum for participants to exchange in-depth knowledge and opinions on the current challenges and management of colorectal diseases.  I attended many of the scientific sessions relating to minimal access/robotic surgery, including the eagerly awaited ROLARR and the ALaCaRT trial results.  As a laparoscopic and robotic surgeon, I found the data encouraging and I am very grateful for the investigators’ hard work.  I also enjoyed lectures from world experts such as Professor Antonio Lacy (lecture on the evolution of minimally invasive surgery for colorectal cancer: past, present, and future), Professor Steven Wexner (gracilis interposition to treat complex fistula disease) and Professor Peter Sagar (The CRM is widely clear: is routine preoperative radiotherapy still necessary?).

My ESCP Best Paper was presented on the 2nd June 2015 in the inflammatory bowel disease abstract session.  My paper illustrated how adipose-derived-mesenchymal stem cells can enhance healing on ischaemic colonic anastomosis in small animal study.  My presentation went smoothly and I was pleasantly surprised by questions from the ESCP past president, Professor P. Ronan O’Connell, who has also provided some ideas for me to improve my research design in the future.

ASCRS Fellow 2015

Tony Mak (right) with Ronan O'Connell and Simon Ng (winner of the ESCP Best Paper in 2011) at the ASCRS Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston 2015

Whilst in Boston, I also did some sight seeing with then my financée (now my wife) Miss Kaori Futaba who is also a colorectal surgeon.  We went on a bike ride through MIT to Harvard University, jogged around the Charles River and also did parts of the Freedom Trail.
In summary, my attendance at the 2015 ASCRS Annual Scientific Meeting has proven to be a very rewarding and valuable experience.  I am deeply thankful to ESCP and ASCRS for this opportunity to broaden my professional knowledge and horizon.

Tony Mak
MBChB, MD(Manc), FRCS(Eng), FRCS(Edin), FRCS (Gen Surg)
Assistant Professor, Division of Colorectal Surgery, Department of Surgery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR

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