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Around 150 staff and students from across the department gathered at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford on Thursday 6 February for our sixth annual NDS Research Away Day.

NDS Research Away Day 2020 © NDS

The event aimed to showcase the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and its current research activities, to communicate and celebrate the department's successes and expertise, and to foster a sense of community.

PGR students, ACFs, ACLs and other researchers within the department were given the opportunity to present their research through short presentations and posters. Those judged to have given the best talk and presented the best poster were presented with a certificate and gift voucher by the Head of Department, Professor Freddie Hamdy.

Congratulations to the prize winners:

  • Matthew Bottomley - Best Oral Presentation for 'CD8+ T cell senescence is a distinct immunological state that identifies long-term renal transplant recipients at increased risk of future malignancy'
  • Alexander Cui - Best Poster Presentation for 'A novel in vitro model for prostate cancer bone metastasis using microfluidics'

In addition, the audience voted for the best graduate student communicator. Congratulations to Ann Ogbemudia for winning the People's Choice for Best Communicator prize for her talk 'Ex vivo normothermic perfusion, a novel method to assess pancreases after preservation'.

A special issue of the Journal of the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (JNDS) was published to showcase the research abstracts (oral presentations and selected posters) presented at the Away Day. JNDS was launched this year as an open access, online only journal primarily focused on bringing together the top case reports written by Oxford medical students during their clinical studies.

Professor Hamdy also announced the winners of the NDS Staff Awards. All members of the department were asked to nominate colleagues in four categories, and the winners were decided by the NDS Staffing Committee.

Congratulations to the award winners:

Tariq is a medical doctor, Rhodes scholar, DPhil student and member of the Royal College of Surgery (MRCS). His clinical success has also been accompanied by three publications in the last six months and he has dedicated his time during his DPhil to tutoring and demonstrating Neuroanatomy to undergraduate medical students. He has also successfully applied for a grant through the Howard Brain Sciences Foundation to fund a public health initiative in his home country of Jamaica which seeks to map the indicators for safe and affordable surgery according to the 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery.

Jo has worked tirelessly to facilitate the required infrastructure and support for the department and its research while remaining affable, friendly and caring about the wellbeing of all the employees. She is an example of knowledge, expertise, dedication and enthusiasm, has shown outstanding performance in her role, and has excellent relations with other members of department.

Louise undertakes many activities outside the scope of her actual role. A few examples of this is organising the Secret Santa scheme where members of the department were able to donate presents to children in social care throughout Oxfordshire, fundraising events for charity, lunchtime yoga sessions and is also at the forefront of organising the outreach work in the department, including the hugely successful work experience programme.

  • Surgical Tutor's Office - NDS Team of the Year

The Surgical Course Administrators, Lucy Tipping and Jackie Heap, who assist the Director of Surgical Education Professor Ashok Handa, won NDS Team of the Year for their dedication to surgical teaching, the incredible support they show to tutors and students throughout surgical attachments, and the proactive ideas and streamlining of systems they have developed for surgical education in Oxford. Their contribution to the Surgery Course contributes in a large part to the University of Oxford Medical School being the number one Medical School in the Times Educational Supplement for an impressive nine years running.


A highlight from the day was the session on workplace culture, which featured talks on bullying and harassment, and mental health and wellbeing by Anne Taylor from the Wellcome Trust and Katherine Hurst. There was also a workshop on the psychology of performance, delivered by Chartered Psychologist Mark Bellamy, and Valerie Parke and Timothy Eden shared their Focus project on continuous improvement in finance.

Other highlights included presentations from Peter Holding about 'How to future proof research - lessons learnt from a 20-year enterprise', Michael Douek on 'Setting up new surgical trials', Roba Khundkar on 'Working towards access to surgery worldwide', Regent Lee on 'Exploring the Frontiers of Big Data science through Oxford Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Study' and we discovered more about the Surgical Innovation and Evaluation Theme from Professor Hamdy. 

The event also featured a variety of guest speakers including Robert MacLaren who discussed Retinal Gene Therapy, Helen McShane who talked about the Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, and Chris Paton who spoke about a virtual reality (VR) training platform for healthcare workers. Plus, Chris Pugh gave a wonderful talk for the Andrew Bushell Memorial Lecture.

The day ended with a fun quiz organised by David Cranston - congratulations to the winners Rutger Ploeg and Matthew Bottomley.