Nick is a colorectal registrar surgeon at Basingstoke Hospital and former Pelican Research Fellow. While at Pelican Nick worked on our
flagship Mercury II study and developed POLARS, a mathematical model used to help doctors and patients understand the level of risk of poor bowel function following rectal surgery.
Read on to find out more about Nick and how Pelican have helped his research and work.
Why did you apply to be the Pelican Research Fellow? What did you want to achieve?
As a surgical registrar with an interest in colorectal surgery it was very apparent that rectal cancer patients require a great deal of thought. Essentially this is because we need to ensure the cancer is optimally treated whilst minimising the consequences of treatment—particularly because quality of life can be hampered by poor function and/or a permanent stoma. The Pelican Research Fellow position has a track record of delivering high quality research, is a full-time research post and gave me the opportunity to work with world leaders in surgery, pathology and radiology.
What did you learn while you were the Pelican Research Fellow, and how has this influenced your career subsequently?
It has given me an academic outlook and sparked a life long interest in clinical research. Broadly, it has taught me how to design a clinical trial, recruit multiple centres, accurately and ethically collect data, and how to then share the results with the medical community, through presentation and papers. It has really helped me think critically and not just accept the status quo. Only then can you really improve patient outcomes. Practically, this means that it is possible to identify where clinical problems exist and it gives me the insight and confidence to do something about these problems. This has happened with bowel related quality of life (see POLARS) and with some future projects that I’m collaboratively involved in. It has also allowed me to return to Basingstoke as a trainee surgeon. Basingstoke focuses on precision surgery for colorectal cancer and having the opportunity to be trained by these surgeons has dramatically improved my technique and my surgical understanding.
What research are you working on at the moment?
There are two projects that I recently applied for funding for – so hopefully I can discuss those with you another time! I am also involved in the TRIGGER trial, which Pelican has funded. This is a complex trial and has taken quite a long time to set up. We now have three centres that are actively recruiting patients and 15 that are in the set-up stage. At the centres already recruiting we have had a really encouraging response, the Royal Marsden has nearly recruited 30 patients already!