November 11th – 13th kicked off the annual AL Polglase Visiting Professorship program at Cabrini Institute and Hospital in Malvern. Professor Antonio De Lacy travelled all the way from Barcelona to be our inaugural visiting professor and the three days were jam packed for our special guest.

After his arrival on the Sunday Antonio was greeted by the surgical team with an informal lunch at Rockpool, enjoying a relaxing afternoon before beginning his tour and stay at Cabrini.  The next day was non-stop, beginning with a hospital tour of Cabrini Malvern, showcasing the important features of the hospital, as well as the new improvements and developments.  This was followed by an in-depth colorectal case discussion where details of complex surgical cases were presented by the Cabrini surgeons.  Antonio shared his knowledge and experience, providing insight that will help to further develop our team here in the Department of Surgery. The entire team in attendance including research fellows and surgeons found it incredibly interesting and educational.  The research team were then able to have a discussion over lunch with the Professor to present the research projects currently being undertaken in our program here at the Cabrini Institute.  Database related projects were discussed as well as our feature research programs such as the organoid project and the tissue microarray project.   Antonio was very impressed with the efforts of the research team, and was interested in learning of the progress and achievements of each of their projects.  Antonio is in the process of capturing Patient Reported Outcome Measurements (PROMS) similar to the measurements captured by our researcher Dr Christine Koulis, with discussion for potential collaboration in the future.  An afternoon meeting with the Professor saw the research team and surgeons review the data captured on the colorectal neoplasia database over the 2017 -2018 financial year. This created a robust discussion that focused on data mining and research, prompting new potential research projects that the team will be investigating in 2019. The afternoon was then followed by a dinner at L’Hotel Gitan where surgeons from all over Melbourne were invited to hear the visiting professor give a lecture about the history of natural orifice surgical techniques.   This technique has been gathering interest amongst the surgical community of late as it is suggested that these techniques have better patient outcomes in recovery.  On Tuesday, Antonio was invited to visit our surgeons at work, where he could view Cabrini Theatre in action.  The surgeons found this a fantastic way to interact with the Professor as he was able to view a live robotic surgery case sharing with us his expertise obtained from many years’ experience.  To conclude the visit Professor Antonio De Lacy presented an insightful and entertaining lecture on the future of education in surgery and how technology will change how our medical staff interact and learn in the future.  It was amazing to learn of the exciting progress in this field, from fostering partnerships with large tech companies to the implementation artificial intelligence and virtual reality for the innovation of education in surgery.   

Overall the visit was an extremely successful one and a made a great contribution to the ongoing professional development of Cabrini’s colorectal surgeons.  The visit would not have been possible without the support of Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer and our major sponsor Medtronic.