Society of Academic and Research Surgery

The Society of Academic & Research Surgery (SARS), located at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, has fostered and enhanced research in various disciplines of surgery under its auspices for more than 50 years.

The Society has links with other important surgical research forums in USA, Europe and South Africa. It provides a platform to aspiring surgical trainees to present their laboratory as well as clinical research. Even in an era of specialization, SARS has maintained its independent status but at the same time maintains vital links with other surgical associations & societies such as ASGBI, VSGBI, ACPGBI and AUGIS.

David Patey was born in Monmouth and studied medicine at The Middlesex Hospital. His career as a student was brilliant and culminated in his being awarded the gold medal for the best medical student of the year in the whole of London University. his graduate training continued at The Middlesex and included two years in the Pathology Department, an influence that awakened his deep and long-lasting interest in the morbid anatomical approach to disease.

He was appointed to the Consultant Staff of The Middlesex in 1930, and in the same year was awarded the Jacksonian Prize of The Royal College of Surgeons in England for an essay on parotid tumours. Among many other academic honours, he was awarded the Hunterian Professorship of The Royal College of Surgeons in 1931, and again in 1964; and near the end of his career his stature was acknowledged by North American academic surgeons with their ultimate accolade, Honorary Fellowship of The American Surgical Association.

His contributions to Surgery and to Surgical Science were many and varied, but outstanding among them were those he made to malignant disease of the breast and to parotid tumours. The mastectomy operation that bears his name was as radical (in pathological terms) as the conventional mastectomy described by Halsted, but preserved the pectoralis major, thereby avoiding a major component of the disfigurement. It was the forerunner of the modern trend towards conservative surgery in a condition like breast carcinoma where spread has often occurred beyond visible or palpable limits. By contrast, his approach to the treatment of the usually 'benign' tumours of the parotid was to insist on obtaining wide margins around the tumours because they were so eminently curable by this technique but so likely to recur if the margin of clearance was compromised.

In 1952 David Patey visited the USA to take part in the Halsted centenary celebrations at The Hopkins as the representative of The Royal Society of Medicine. The Society of University Surgeons in North America had arranged their meeting to coincide with the Halsted celebrations, and invited Patey to their meetings. Patey was greatly impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the (mainly) young people who presented their scientific work to that society and were clearly have a tremendous influence on the development of surgery in that country: as he put it himself, many years later: 'I felt that this was the blueprint British surgery wanted, and it was the final stimulus to my getting busy when I got back.

He certainly got busy with a will!. He interested Professor Sir James Paterson-Ross, later President of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, and between them they contacted the heads of all the university departments of surgery in the UK and Eire. Their suggestion that a Surgical Research Society should be founded met with enthusiasm. When a subcommittee was set up to formulate the rules for the embryo society, it was Patey who insisted on two that have turned out to have enormous importance: that papers should be spoken and not read, and that their delivery should take no longer than 10 minutes.

The first meeting was held at The Middlesex Hospital in 1954, with Sir James as the first president and Patey the first honorary secretary. At that time the membership was limited to 50 but now it numbers over 500. The audience at the first meeting numbered 25, but now generally exceeds 300. Much of the reason for this success lay in Patey's characteristics: clarity of mind, devastating logic, transparent honesty, true humility, and the grace and charm with which he conducted himself - even when he was preventing a speaker from overstepping the ten minutes.

Objectives of the Society

• To provide for the interchange of information about research related to surgery and surgical disease.
• To foster interchange between surgical science and clinical practice.
• To promote humanity and high ethical standards in clinical and experimental research.
• To comment on the standard, place and educational value of surgical research in the training of surgeons.
• To maintain high standards of scientific evaluation of surgical research by ensuring that the format, quality of slides and illustrations, clarity of presentation and ability to respond to questioning of presentations to the Society are of the highest quality.
• To promote surgical research by providing travelling scholarships and/or research grants.
• To promote the interchange of information internationally through collaboration with other national surgical societies.
• To maintain low subscriptions and registration fees to encourage young research workers in surgery to participate in the activity of the Society.

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