Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences


The Surgical Science Stand Off II

24 November 2020

Following the success of our first Surgical Science Stand Off, on 18 November 2020 a new group of six WEISS researchers took to the virtual stage to convince us that their research is the most essential, all in a bid to avoid being mercilessly voted out of the competition.

Screenshot of surgical science stand off

54 event attendees joined our panel of judges: Lesley Booth from Bowel Cancer Research, Gill Yaz from Shine, Mark Agathangelou representing the Camden Patient Pain Support Group and the NHS England MSK Lived Experience Steering Group, Neil Finney representing the Traumatic Brachial Plexus Injury Group and Adam Boal from the Francis Crick Institute / Science Museum.

Our competitors were:

Manios Dimitrakakis, whose research relates to making brain surgery easier for surgeons and safer for patients. Many tumors at the base of the brain are treated using the endonasal approach – where surgeons access the brain using keyhole surgery through the nose. Manios is aiming to develop handheld robotic instruments which will give surgeons more dexterity during this minimally invasive surgery, allowing them to reach areas of the brain that may previously have been unreachable.

Lydia Neary-Zajiczek’s research aims to improve efficiency for pathology services through the digitisation of pathology workflows by scanning glass slides so that pathologists can assess cases on a computer workstation. In the long term it is hoped that this may also allow pathologists to make use of automated diagnostic tools.

In her research, Carmen Salvadores Fernandez is developing sensors for healthcare applications. These sensors will be able to give surgeons information such as the forces that are being applied in order to help them during their surgical procedures. Furthermore, her aim is to develop these sensors out of materials that will have a dual functionality - that work as sensors but also have antimicrobial properties which will help to avoid infection.

Juana Gonzalez-Bueno Puyal explained how colorectal cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK, however fortunately it can be diagnosed early through the detection of polyps in the colon during a colonoscopy. However, up to a quarter of these polyps can be missed during colonoscopy. So Juana’s research focuses on applying artificial intelligence to help doctors detect polyps in real time during colonoscopies.   

Pancreatic cancer is tough to diagnose and treat and is usually diagnosed using an endoscopic ultrasound – which is challenging and requires a lot of skill. As part of her research, Ester Bonmati Coll is designing tools which aim to make this procedure less operator dependant and therefore easier for the surgeons and safer for patients.

Daniil Nikitichev’s research aims to make surgeons lives easier and also to make surgery safer. He wants to do this be developing new materials and using new technologies, such as 3D printing, to develop patient specific anatomical models. These models can then be used to help surgeons plan and practice their surgery and can also help the surgeons to educate their patients.

After 5 tense rounds, Juana emerged the winner by a narrow margin. Don’t worry if you missed the action – you can watch the whole event again on YouTube.

Congratulations to all of our researchers for taking part, regardless of the Stand Off results we of course value all of your fascinating research equally!