The Origins of the BURST Research Collaborative

BAUS 2014 – Inspired by others

At the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) annual conference in 2014, Thomas Pinkney, from the West Midlands General Surgery Research Collaborative was invited by then urology trainee, Ben Lamb, to present the progress of their general surgery research collaborative. His lecture, which gave the outcomes of the ROSSINI randomised trial was eye-opening and showed the audience that it was possible to change the way that research could be delivered.

At the end of the session, Veeru Kasivisvanathan, inspired by the potential of the collaborative concept, wanted to create a research collaborative in Urology. He spent the next 6 months shadowing the London Surgical Research Group (LSRG), attending their meetings and understanding the inner workings of a successful group. He had discussions with James Haddow from the LSRG, Aneel Bhangu of the West Midlands Research Collaborative and Angelos Kolias from the British Neurosurgical Trainee Collaborative. Initially he was uncertain whether to have two separate collaboratives: one locally for London and one nationally, or just one nationally, but after taking everything into consideration, wanted to be all inclusive and decided on a single national research collaborative in Urology.

Formation of a national Urological research collaborative

From these experiences, he wrote a list of founding principles for a research collaborative in Urology and led trainee collaborative sessions at the BAUS Academic Section Winter Meeting at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS), where it was clear that there was interest amongst British Urology Trainees for this to work. BAUS as an organisation was extremely supportive in wanting this to succeed with particular mention to Professors Robert Pickard and Mark Emberton via their roles as RCS surgical speciality leads, John McGrath, Howard Kynaston and Vincent Gnanapragasam in their roles as leads of the Academic Section of BAUS, Roland Morley in his role as Speciality Advisory Committee Chair for Urology and Mark Speakman in his role as BAUS Chair.

Veeru Kasivisvanathan invited Ben Lamb, who was the academic section chair of the trainee organisation, SURG, at the time to join him as co-chair of the new research collaborative and subsequently invited Taimur Shah to join as Webmaster and Treasurer. He set up an advisory board consisting of Professors Mark Emberton, Hashim Ahmed, Robert Pickard, Graeme MacLennan and Ben Challacombe.

Finding a name

The Research collaborative needed a name. The committee considered a number of different names to represent the key themes: being British-based, Urological and based on trainee-led research. A number of interesting acronyms emerged (!) but the committee settled on the choice of the BURST (British Urology Researchers in Surgical Training) Research Collaborative, which carried the same stem as the annual BURST session at the BAUS annual conference, which was designed for talks for trainees on academic themes.

Origins of the word “BURST”

Although unaware of this at the time, after speaking to Urology Consultant Daron Smith, the committee learnt that he had previously founded THRUST (Thames Research Urologists and Surgical Trainees) in 2001, supported by Professors John Fitzpatrick and Roger Kirby, with similar aims to their current venture. At a similar time, other British urologists including Dan Wood, were involved in developing the acronym BURST, which was given a session at the BAUS annual conference for discussion of research amongst trainees. It was fascinating to understand how the BURST session at the BAUS conference came about and got its name and clearly the desire to carry out research amongst trainees had always been there. Although the BURST session at BAUS was an annual event which trainees became accustomed to attending, in the 2010s there was no formal research collaborative associated with it. It primarily became an annual gathering where talks of interest in academia were given.

In founding the Research Collaborative, the committee thought it would be fitting to use the existing name BURST, which people would be familiar with and add the words “Research Collaborative”. It has since stuck. The BURST annual session at BAUS continues to be a focal point for our gatherings and ideas and BURST are grateful to BAUS’ continued support. BURST are also very grateful for Daron Smith’s input and continued support – he had the old logo for BURST which he kindly shared with us which has been modified to become the current logo for the Research Collaborative.

Establishing a network

Since the official launch of the BURST Research Collaborative at BAUS 2015, though it retains its British core, it has become an international organisation with a wide reach, working with over 500 collaborators from around the world. The first large international cohort study launched by BURST, was the MIMIC study, led by Taimur Shah. This established the BURST network and led to the formation of a number of national and international collaborations. It has developed into a prize-winning collaborative that has presented work around the world and is having impact on urological research and practice. The collaborative continues to grow from strength to strength and aims to deliver multicentre practice-changing observational and interventional research that can improve patient care.

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