Image of surgery

Academic surgeons at the University of Birmingham promote a wide range of research including clinical trials and cohort studies aimed at improving healthcare both locally and worldwide. They are also involved with global surgical training. Current research includes CovidSurg – an initiative launched by the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery to understand the outcomes of COVID-19 infected patients who undergo surgery. 

Professor Dion MortonProfessor Dion Morton

Barling Professor of Surgery
Head of Surgery

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Research groups

Research groups within surgery
ResearcherResearch area
Simon Bach  Colorectal cancer surgical trials
Aneel Bhangu Global surgery and international health/colorectal cancer
Professor Sean Kehoe Gynaecological cancer clinical trials
Professor Hisham Mehanna Head and neck cancer clinical trials
Professor Dion Morton Colorectal cancer clinical trials
Prashant Patel Urology and prostate cancer
Neil Sharma Head and neck clinical trials
Professor Sudha Sundar Ovarian cancer clinical trials
Professor Colin Watts Glioma genetics and clinical trials

Related centres

  • The Birmingham Surgical Trials Consortium (BiSTC) works in partnership with the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit and the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) to promote surgical trials and the training of surgeons as trial investigators.

  • Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
    Birmingham Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) is one of eighteen adult centres across the UK and is led by Professor Gary Middleton. Jointly funded by Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the ECMC Network seeks to accelerate the translation of discovery science into the clinic by promoting rational development and application of novel therapies, providing clinical networks for their evaluation, and supplying linked patient data and samples for future research. The current award period ends in 2022.

  • NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery
    Our Global Surgery unit is core funded by the NIHR, led by the University of Birmingham, and supported by the University of Edinburgh and partners in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). The Unit also works closely with the Royal College of Surgeons. The goal is to increase access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care in low and middle income countries. We work closely with research hubs in sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian sub-continent, South East Asia and Central America.

  • West Midlands Research Collaborative (WMRC)
    The West Midlands Research Collaborative (WMRC) is a surgical trainee-led group that aims to deliver high-quality, multicentre clinical research that has the potential to change clinical practice and improve patient care. 

Spotlight on abdominal surgery

Aneel Bhangu
Aneel Bhangu

Lancet 395:417-426 (2020). Bhangu A and Reinforcement of Closure of Stoma Site (ROCSS) Collaborative and West Midlands Research Collaborative. Prophylactic biological mesh reinforcement versus standard closure of stoma site (ROCSS): a multicentre, randomised controlled trial.

The introduction of a simple surgical procedure has led to a 40% drop in the rate of complications involving hernia associated with stoma following abdominal surgery.

In 25% of cases, the closure of abdominal stoma is associated with incisional hernia formation. In this randomised trial, a collagen mesh was inserted at the site of closure following removal of stoma. The reinforcement of the abdominal wall with a biological mesh led to a decrease in the occurrence of hernia from 25% to 15% during the two year follow-up period.

Selected highlights from this research theme

Lancet 397:387-397 (2021). Bhangu A and Global Surgery Collaborative and National Institute for Health Research Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery. Global variation in postoperative mortality and complications after cancer surgery: a multicentre, prospective cohort study in 82 countries.

European Urology  (2021). Bryan RT, W Liu, SJ Pirrie, R Amir, J Gallagher, AI Hughes, . . . ND James. Comparing an Imaging-guided Pathway with the Standard Pathway for Staging Muscle-invasive Bladder Cancer: Preliminary Data from the BladderPath Study.

Comput Med Imaging Graph 88:101853 (2021). Fouad S, G Landini, M Robinson, TH Song and H Mehanna. Human papilloma virus detection in oropharyngeal carcinomas with in situ hybridisation using hand crafted morphological features and deep central attention residual networks.

Oral Oncology 113:105112 (2021). Vreugdenhil M, C Fong, P Sanghera, A Hartley, J Dunn and H Mehanna. Hypofractionated chemoradiation for head and cancer: Data from the PET NECK trial.

Int J Molecular Science 21 (2020). Payne K, M Pugh, J Brooks, N Batis, G Taylor, P Nankivell and H Mehanna. Circulating Tumour Cell Expression of Immune Markers as Prognostic and Therapeutic Biomarkers in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

J Clin Oncol:JCO2001933 (2020). Glasbey JC, A Bhangu and COVIDSurg Collaborative. Elective Cancer Surgery in COVID-19-Free Surgical Pathways During the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: An International, Multicenter, Comparative Cohort Study.

Lancet 395:417-426 (2020). Bhangu A and Reinforcement of Closure of Stoma Site (ROCSS) Collaborative and West Midlands Research Collaborative. Prophylactic biological mesh reinforcement versus standard closure of stoma site (ROCSS): a multicentre, randomised controlled trial.

Lancet Child Adolesc Health 4:271-280 (2020). Bhangu A and Rift Study Group on behalf of the West Midlands Research Collaborative. Appendicitis risk prediction models in children presenting with right iliac fossa pain (RIFT study): a prospective, multicentre validation study.

Lancet 396:27-38 (2020). Bhangu A and COVIDSurg Collaborative. Mortality and pulmonary complications in patients undergoing surgery with perioperative SARS-CoV-2 infection: an international cohort study.

Br J Surg  (2020) doi: 10.1002/bjs.11746. Bhangu A and COVIDSurg Collaborative. Elective surgery cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic: global predictive modelling to inform surgical recovery plans.

Br J Surg  (2020) doi: 10.1002/bjs.11646. Bhangu A and COVIDSurg Collaborative. Global guidance for surgical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

J Clin Oncol 38:2552-2557 (2020). Mehanna H, D Rischin, SJ Wong, V Gregoire, R Ferris, J Waldron, . . . S Porceddu. De-Escalation After DE-ESCALATE and RTOG 1016: A Head and Neck Cancer InterGroup Framework for Future De-Escalation Studies.

BMJ Open 10:e033009 (2020). Kong A, J Good, A Kirkham, J Savage, R Mant, L Llewellyn, . . . H Mehanna. Phase I trial of WEE1 inhibition with chemotherapy and radiotherapy as adjuvant treatment, and a window of opportunity trial with cisplatin in patients with head and neck cancer: the WISTERIA trial protocol.

Ann Oncol 30:456-463 (2019). Spiteri I, G Caravagna, GD Cresswell, A Vatsiou, D Nichol, A Acar, . . . C Watts, A Sottoriva. Evolutionary dynamics of residual disease in human glioblastoma.

N Engl J Med 374:1444-1454 (2016). Mehanna H, WL Wong, CC McConkey, JK Rahman, M Robinson, AG Hartley, . . . P-NTM Group. PET-CT Surveillance versus Neck Dissection in Advanced Head and Neck Cancer.

Lancet 386:249-257 (2015). Kehoe S, J Hook, M Nankivell, GC Jayson, H Kitchener, T Lopes, . . . AM Swart. Primary chemotherapy versus primary surgery for newly diagnosed advanced ovarian cancer (CHORUS): an open-label, randomised, controlled, non-inferiority trial.