MRC Centre Research Fellow Participates in the British Science Festival

Pankaj Chandak, Research Fellow at the MRC Centre for Transplantation participated in the 2016 Story Collider at the British Science Festival in Swansea on Thursday 8 September.

Story Colliders involves presenting a personal story with a science twist. Pankaj was one of five storytellers plucked from the Festival line up who shared his exciting tale of how science touched his life. His story was about the complexities of transplanting kidneys into small children and the journey that led to him and the team to develop an innovative kidney transplant that involved 3D printing.

Honorary Professor in DTIMB Wins RCP Award for Research Leadership

Professor Iain Macdougall recently won an award from the Royal College of Physicians for outstanding research leadership in the NHS. The award is a collaborative initiative between the NIHR and the RCP, and 2016 is only the second year that the scheme has been running. Professor Macdougall received his award for his leadership of both the PIVOTAL and PEDAL research studies, as well as his contribution to other NIHR portfolio studies. PIVOTAL has recently completed recruitment of 2080 haemodialysis patients, and is the largest renal randomised clinical trial ever conducted exclusively in the UK. His clinical research team of 14 staff (research nurses, research assistants, and data managers) is currently supporting a total of 39 clinical research studies, both commercial and non-commercial, which also include transplant studies led by the MRC Centre, such as OuTSMART and EMPIRIKAL.

New Clinical Director Appointed to the NIHR CRN South London

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust has appointed Dr Kosh Agarwal as joint Clinical Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network for South London (CRN South London) alongside the current Clinical Director Professor Andrew Shennan.

A Consultant Hepatologist and Transplant Physician at the Institute of Liver Studies, King's College Hospital, London, Dr Agarwal is part of the team who deliver the largest liver transplant programme in Europe.

Awards for Fellows

Congratulations to Chryssie Brown, a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellow with DTIMB who was awarded the Tadion Rideal Prize. This prize is awarded to the postgraduate student of King's College London who has carried out leading research in molecular science. It is given for the “doctorate and research directly associated with the award of the doctorate showing the greatest evidence of originality and promise, together with experimental and/or theoretical skill”.

She has also been awarded a post-doctoral fellowship from Wellcome. Chryssie is continuing her research into immune regulation, moving from studying the role of diet on autoimmune T-cell response to the role of the gut microbiota. As part of her post-doctoral clinical research fellowship she will be investigating how early life exposure to antibiotics impacts on immune development and risk of autoimmune arthritis in childhood.

Chryssie's PhD provided fantastic training in basic science and an engaging collaboration with the BRC Genomics Centre. She looks forward to building on this during her work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York and Institute for Child Health, London.

Joana F Neves is the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow working in DTIMB. She just received a Seed Award in Science from the Wellcome Trust to validate her novel system for the study intestinal lymphocytes. “Seed Awards in Science help researchers develop novel ideas that will go on to form part of larger grant applications to the Wellcome Trust or elsewhere.”



A UK first for transplant recipients

Transplant surgeons at Guy's have carried out the UK's first ever kidney transplant using robotic - assisted keyhole surgery. The operation was led by Professor Nizam Mamode. Keyhole surgery (also known as laparoscopic surgery) reduces post-operative pain and speeds up recovery time.

Robotic-assisted surgery uses a robotic console (the daVinci® system) to help the surgeon during the operation. The surgeon is in the same room, but away from the patient, and controls the robotic arms to perform the operation. The robot is not performing the surgery! The surgeon still carries out the procedure, but the robotic console allows more controlled and precise movements during the operation.

Professor Mamode says: "The first kidney transplant took place in 1954 and things haven't changed since then, to this day the procedure is still routinely performed using open surgery. Open surgery involves making a large incision (cut) in the abdomen, it is painful and the patient can take weeks to recover. Using a robot to help us perform keyhole surgery completely changes the landscape of transplant surgery; it reduces pain and recovery time. To transplant a kidney, the surgeon needs to be able to stitch the new organ in place and quickly connect the blood vessels, if we don't the kidney is starved of blood and dies. Stitching a kidney in place by hand using laparoscopic surgery is difficult; the robot we use mimics the surgeon's hand movements and enables us to do that job much more quickly.

The team, travelled to India earlier this year to learn the technique directly from Professor Pranjal Modi, of the Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Centre in Ahmedabad, India, where they have carried out more than 250 laparoscopic robotic-assisted kidney transplants.

One of the transplant recipients said: "My operation started at around midday on Saturday and I came round later that evening, I was up on my feet the following day, which was incredible. Recovery from open surgery can take weeks, so being able to go home just a few days afterwards is wonderful."

Professor Mamode said: "Carrying out laparoscopic operations in this way is a major development, making kidney transplants more bearable for patients and potentially saving the NHS money."

To find out more about robotic assisted kidney transplantation, please speak to your kidney care team.

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