Dragon’s Den General Surgery Research Event 2020


Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge

This event was the first of its kind in General Surgery within the East of England training deanery. It was hosted by the STEER Collaborative with support and sponsorship from NIHR Eastern. It allowed general surgical trainees to present their project proposals to a panel of academic Dragons, after which they would be critiqued, questioned and interrogated! The overall aim of the event was to promote research in general surgery within the East of England region and also allow trainees to bring forward project ideas for high-quality collaborative research with full support from STEER and NIHR.

Over a dozen high-quality project proposals were submitted before the event and eventually, 5 were shortlisted to present as an oral presentation at the Dragon’s Den event. The top three oral presentations, as marked by the Dragons, would be awarded prizes. The overall winning project would get taken forward with support from STEER and NIHR to form a multi-centre collaborative project within the East of England.

Our formidable Dragons included:

  • Anita Balakrishnan (consultant HPB surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital) – awarded Hunterian Professorship by RCS Eng for her work in pancreatic cancer development.
  • James Hernon (consultant Colorectal surgeon at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital) – Honorary Senior Lecturer at UEA and chief investigator for the currently recruiting multi-centre Prepare-ABC randomised controlled trial.
  • Paul Charlton – NIHR Patient Research Ambassador. Board member within the CQC and NIHR health technology commissioning board.
  • Amber Steele – NIHR Research Advisor at the Research Design Service
  • Alan Askari – Chair of STEER collaborative. General Surgical Registrar with a strong academic background.

Overall, the event was a great success with over 25 delegates attending. Five high-quality oral presentations were delivered at the event with time for plenty of questions from the Dragons and the audience. The top three presentations as judged by the formidable Dragons were as follows:

  • 1st prize: Completely minimally invasive oesophagectomy versus hybrid oesophagectomy for oesophageal and gastro-oesophageal junctional cancer: clinical and oncological outcomes (Omar Abbassi)
  • 2nd prize: Multicentre management and outcomes of symptomatic, clinically occult, radiologically evident inguinal hernias in East Anglia (Mohamed Aly)
  • 3rd prize: Investigating the use of mental REHEARSal in surgical trainEes (REHEARSE study) (James Ashcroft)

We would like to thank our panel of Dragons and attending delegates for their support at the event and hope they will join us in our Dragon’s Den event in 2021!

Krashna Patel

Vice-Chair of STEER collaborative

Introductions from Krashna Patel

(STEER Vice Chair & Event Host)

Project proposal pitched to the Dragons

The panel of Academic Dragons

Alan Askari (STEER Chair) critiquing a project proposal

Omar Abbassi (1st Prize winner)

Mohamed Aly (2nd Prize winner)

James Ashcroft (3rd Prize winner)