British Oxygen Company (BOC) Grant: 2011 Award
In 1958 the British Oxygen Company (BOC) funded the foundation of a Chair of Anaesthesia. The BOC Chair was last held by Professor Leo Strunin at the Royal London Hospital. Inflation, improved salaries and the requirement by university employers for overhead costs means that in the 21st Century there is no longer sufficient funding to found and support a new Chair of Anaesthesia.
Instead, the Royal College of Anaesthetists has reinterpreted the resource as the BOC Grant, given as a four year resource to a promising academic who is close to promotion to professorial status. Four years ago the BOC Grant was awarded to Dr Tony Absalom who researched brain imaging and drug disposition at Cambridge, with mentoring from Professor David Menon. Now a full Professor, Tony has moved to Groningen in Holland where he continues to develop his academic interests. He remains actively involved in UK anaesthesia through the Society for Intravenous Anaesthesia and research collaborations and he serves as a Board member of the British Journal of Anaesthesia.
This year the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia (NIAA) was asked to act on behalf of the College and I chaired the award committee. We received eleven applications from across the UK. Research proposals covered the full spectrum from 'bench to bedside' and included anaesthesia, pain management and critical care medicine. Methodologies included cell, tissue, animal, patient and population studies - quite a choice.
To help us in the decision making we sent each application to reviewers in the UK and abroad with non-clinical scientist referees as well as medics as appropriate to the proposal. Each proposal was scored by at least four reviewers.
Decision making was structured, democratic and difficult! With such a strong field of applications we could have happily funded five had the money been available. Sadly, we had to choose just one and after much deliberation we selected Mike Grocott's.
Dr Mike Grocott is a consultant at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and an honorary Reader in Anaesthesia & Critical Care at the University of Southampton. He also leads the NIAA Health Services Research Centre and holds an academic appointment with University College London. .
Mike has diverse research interests including leadership of the science programme of the Caudwell Xtreme Everest Expedition. His Fit 4 Surgery project addresses the association between fitness and surgical outcomes. Neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (NAChemo) is used before many types of major cancer surgery and may increase the risk of death following surgery. This is probably because NAChemo associated harm to cardio-respiratory fitness increases the risk of postoperative morbidity and mortality, which in some patients outweighs the beneficial effects of NAChemo mediated tumour regression. This may be particularly true in the proportion of patients in whom tumour regression following NAChemo is limited. Exercise training is known to improve fitness in healthy individuals, patients with heart and lung disease and in patients prior to major non-cancer surgery. The effect of this improvement of fitness on complications following surgery remains unknown. The mechanisms of NAChemo harm, and of training benefit, are also uncertain. The aims of his programme of research are: to expand knowledge of the effect of NAChemo on fitness in patients undergoing major cancer surgery across a range of cancer and operation types; to evaluate the benefits (improved patient outcomes) of exercise training prior to major cancer surgery in patients receiving NAChemo and to explore, in patients having surgery for cancer, the mechanisms of: harm to fitness by NAChemo, benefit to fitness by training and benefit to outcome by training.
We wish him every success with these projects.
Professor J Robert Sneyd, Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth