Contribution to Academic Unit, University and Community 2017-01-19T12:38:59+00:00

Contribution to Academic Unit, University and Community

Contribution to Academic Unit

As part of my commitment to treatment and awareness of vascular disease and translation research, I founded the Western Vascular Institute in 2002.

The Western Vascular Institute is a charitable research body committed to vascular research, technical innovation, professional and public education. To have the infrastructure to address critical issues in cardiovascular medicine, and then to teach others, is central to the mission.

My main goal is to facilitate development of pioneering surgical, endovascular, medical and pharmaceutical therapies in the treatment of vascular disease. Part of the role of the Western Vascular Institute is to objectively systematize and administer collaboration between vascular surgeons and partners in industry, related clinical fields and other research organizations for focused, cardiovascular-specific, patient-driven research. The WVI is a bi-directional bridge between clinical expertise, industrial proficiency and academic research aptitude.

The academic prowess of the vascular unit has been aided by my successful application for the appointment of dedicated clinical lecturers at both undergraduate and post-graduate level. These dedicated lecturers have helped to provide structure to both teaching and academic activities and have assisted in the acquisition of multiple clinical research and teaching accolades from both internal and external awarding bodies. Clinical research fellows, co-sponsored by the HSE and WVI have also added to the academic research unit while concomitantly providing clinical manpower within the university hospital. In addition undergraduate and post-graduate researchers from various disciplines such as medicine, bio-engineering, biomedical science and molecular medicine have contributed to the influential vascular research, international awards and seminal publications produced at the Western Vascular Institute.

Among the various recourses I made available to the research unit at the WVI was the first Vascular Biobank, which I opened in 2005. The growing influence of electronic patient records and how these safely interface with research databases has been championed by the WVI. We have funded the education and training of two dedicated Vascular Database managers, whose salaries are sponsored by the WVI. These appointees ensure the integrity and accuracy of clinical and research data.

Academic Activities

  • Undergraduate Teaching:

    1. Medical Students in their Clinical years
    2. Bio-medical engineering final year surgical practical course
  • Post-Graduate Teaching:

    1. Diploma in Medical Science Endovascular Surgery and Masters in Medical Science Endovascular Surgery
    2. Higher Surgical Training Scheme at Specialist Registrar Level
    3. Basic Surgical Training Scheme at Senior House Officer Level
    4. Intern Surgical Training
  • Research Supervision:

    1. MD Degree
    2. Masters of Medical Science
    3. Masters of Biomedical Engineering
    4. Masters of Biomedical Science
    5. Masters of Health Science
    6. PhD in Biomedical Engineering
    7. Post-Doctoral Research in Biomedical Engineering
  • Mentoring of Research Assistants:

  1. Clinical Tutor & Registrar in Vascular Surgery
  2. Vascular Clinical Research Fellows
  3. Honorary Clinical Lecturer in Endovascular Surgery

I believe that in order for students to learn, they must have a “hands on” experience when it comes to both the surgical and the academic side of Vascular Disease Management. This is why I hold weekly meetings with my students as I feel I can mentor them and guide them along the right path to becoming outstanding Vascular Surgeons.

Contribution to Medical School /College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

While establishing the vascular and endovascular clinical infrastructure in Galway, I am keen to develop the unit’s international reputation for clinical excellence and research distinction.

This was achieved by laying solid foundations and building on that success. Building a lasting future was only possible with keen attention to the integration of clinical training and patient-orientated research. This has to start at undergraduate level and must embrace complimentary disciplines.

My successful application for a dedicated vascular clinical tutor and registrar bridges the gap between undergraduate teaching and clinical practice and is a joint appointment between Galway University Hospital and NUIG. The growing prevalence and escalating incidence of vascular disease, as a result of our ageing population and rising cardiovascular risk factors, necessitates the education of medical students on vascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading global killer and affects more patients than all forms of cancer combined. This means that every medical student will encounter a vascular patient at some stage in their career. Introduction to cardiovascular disease management at undergraduate level, not only educates future doctors about the vascular disease pandemic but studies have also shown that a positive introduction to the discipline leads to greater recruitment of candidates into vascular surgery at a postgraduate level. Mentorship and introduction to academic surgery at an undergraduate level has had successful rewards for the medical students at a national level; the Henry Hutchinson Medal for the 3rd annual intercollegiate RCSI surgical case presentations being won by a NUIG medical student under the mentorship of the vascular service for a presentation on Complex Carotid Surgery. The success of the dedicated vascular surgery appointment has been confirmed by the positive feedback from students and faculty in the form of the Bernard Murphy award for best Surgical Educator going to the Vascular Surgery Tutor for three consecutive years.

The successful established of a research team at the Western Vascular Institute has led to 27 international research awards and numerous peer-reviewed publications and presentations at every noteworthy international vascular meeting over the last number of years, as well as at numerous respected cardiology and bioengineering meetings. This international exposure has contributed greatly to the international reputation of the faculty. Furthermore the annual WVI symposium has really established the Medical Faculty’s Vascular & Endovascular unit as a world class academic clinical leader and showcases the vascular unit in Galway to the world’s most respected leaders in cardiovascular disease management who join the symposium’s faculty each year.

The favorable reputation earned by the Vascular Unit in Galway has led to research collaborations with other national institutions, such as the SFI-funded research frontiers programme we engaged in with DCU and TCD. The high-esteem in which the WVI is held has also led to international collaborations and multi-site clinical trials with units in Germany and the USA. Furthermore it has given rise to clinical referrals and consultations on complex endovascular cases from units in the UK, Europe and Middle East.

Contribution to University

My contribution to the university is multifaceted and spans undergraduate and post-graduate levels with input to a variety of vascular disease-related departments such as medicine, biomedical engineering and biomedical science.

I have overhauled the teaching of vascular disease at an undergraduate level by restructuring the undergraduate vascular programme and assimilating it into the cardiovascular disease module and distinguishing it from the surgical education programme. This is a move which reflects real-clinical practice, acknowledging the similarities between contemporary endovascular specialists and interventional cardiologists and the overlap in treatment options between cardiac, neuro and peripheral vascular specialties. This was achieved by close collaboration in the development of the curriculum and provision of the necessary manpower in the form of the dedicated vascular clinical tutor.

The provision of an innovative surgical practice programme for final year biomedical engineering students provides the students with an unprecedented introduction to how medical devices are used in clinical practice. The programme which I compile each year reflects the lasted innovations in the MedTech endovascular field and introduces the students to intellectual property and patent registration. Furthermore the examination format affords the students the freedom to be creative while at the same time introduces them to the practicalities of clinical applications.

At a postgraduate level the establishment of the innovative Masters of Medical Science Endovascular Surgery Programme distinguishes NUIG as an international site for postgraduate endovascular training, while also contributing to the University coiffeurs with the revenue generated from registration fees, thereby helping to fund important academic and research functions. The Western Vascular Institute has sponsored an honorary clinical lecturer to coordinate this unique programme which offers the candidates the perfect combination between clinical training and research. Endovascular training is provided in accordance with credentialing standards set out by the European Board of Vascular Surgery and the Society for Vascular Surgery and the logbook is structured accordingly. On the research front, assessment is by research thesis which the candidates are required to layout in the form of a review paper and clinical research publication which is suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed international journal, thereby building on publication records. Two students have already graduated from this programme and five more are currently within the system. The programme was oversubscribed this year with growing international interest and applications from abroad.

The multi-disciplinary nature of the research undertaken at the Western Vascular Institute reflects the real-world endovascular revolution and growth in the endovascular MedTech industry. The WVI has provided an environment for combination of biotechnology and clinical disciplines within NUIG and the WVI.

Collaborative research between Prof Tim O’Brien’s team at REMEDI and members of the Western Vascular Institute has led to the awarding of a MD post-graduate degree and publications in peer-reviewed journals. (Stocca et al., Atherosclerosis. 2012 Apr;221(2):325-32; Sen et al., J Gene Med. 2008 Feb;10(2):143-51. )

The WVI has also acted as bi-directional bridge between NUIG and other universities, including DCU, TCD and UL. These collaborations have not only provided funding and publications; they have also led to patents and commercialization potentials.

Embricon, an Enterprise Ireland funded start-up company based at the Business Innovation Centre at NUIG is an example of how I have harnessed academic research to give commercial return.

Embricon has a rich intellectual property portfolio and holds patents which on the verge on going to market. Enterprise Ireland labeled Embricon as a High Performance Start-Up (HPSU) company and we won the InterTrade Ireland award for Best International Emerging Company in the All-Island Seedcorn Business Competition 2007.

In the last six years the WVI and affiliated campus start-up companies, have secured over €2.3million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, IDA and industrial research grants.

Clinical discipline, healthcare and community contribution

My contribution to my profession and my love for and dedication to vascular surgery began as soon as I graduated.

At this time it was unheard of that Vascular Surgery could be considered as a distinct specialty rather than a subdivision of general surgery. However I persisted with my belief that vascular surgery was a unique discipline and this is reflected in my subject choices for my post-graduate degrees and in the integral role I played in the establishment of a dedicated vascular unit at Ain Shams University Hospital. I remained devoted to this throughout my professional career, spearheading the introduction of endovascular aortic repair while in St James Hospital in Dublin and founding the vascular unit in Galway.

I pursued my conviction that Vascular Surgery be recognized and practiced separately to general surgery at a local, national and international level. I am a member of the writing committee of the Irish Association of Vascular Surgeons document on the provision of vascular services in Ireland and the IAVS submission to the RCSI on Vascular Training in Ireland.

My contribution to professional training and upholding of examination standards is demonstrated by my presence on the interview boards for both higher surgical trained and basic surgical training schemes run by the Royal College of surgeons. I am also an examiner and regularly provide training days for both RCSI schemes.

My contribution to the field of Vascular Surgery has been rewarded by my peers who critically assessed and awarded me fellowship of the American College of Surgeons and international membership of the Society of vascular Surgery. My peers have also invited me to become president of the American Society of Angiology, Irish Chapter. I am a regular reviewer for several vascular surgery and biomechanical journals and I have been an invited member of faculty to 36 international Symposia and university meetings.

My standing and learned opinion is repeatedly sought by my internationally colleagues in both clinical and scholarly terms. I have been invited by the Department of Surgery at the University of California, Irvine to assess the application of Prof Samuel Eric Wilson for the advancement to the rank of professor above scale.

Industry

I have repeatedly engaged with the Pharmaceutical and MedTech endovascular industry, especially those located within the Ireland and within the endovascular hub located in the West of Ireland.

A number of industry sponsored projects have led to great success and reinforced the respect industry has for the clinical expertise and research prowess of the Western Vascular Institute.

I have been contracted as a consultant and commissioned to write a number of industrial reports for Abbott Endovascular, Boston Scientific, Medtronic and Cordis Endovascular, all of which have facilities in the West of Ireland.

I have also been principal investigator in an IDA co-sponsored project on automated endovascular inventory management. This is an on-going project, moving into phase two which is has been undertaken with GeorgiaTech Ireland and GS1/EPC and has been sponsored by the unique combination of competitive MedTech multinationals. (Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, and Boston Scientific)

My involvement with industry has not been confined to multinationals; I have co-founded a number of start-up MedTech companies such as Embricon Ltd and Green Medical Limited. Embricon won the InterTrade Ireland award for Best International Emerging Company in the All-Island Seedcorn Business Competition in 2007 and Green Medical Ltd, of which I was a director and founding member, was sold to Cook Medical in 2005 with an impressive Intellectual Property Portfolio and four US patents relating to treatment of superficial venous malformations. I have filed patents with both multi- international and indigenous companies.

The WVI symposium also provides a forum for interaction with industry in terms of sponsorship, professional education, dedicated-device innovation sessions and professional simulator training

Community

My dedication to public awareness, education and disease prevention has been aided by the provision of websites (www.vascular.ie and www.sherifsultan.ie) and Facebook, which provide patient information in the form of interactive videos and downloadable brochures.

The websites also allow for on-line referrals and educate patients on screening and the cardiovascular regenerative programme provided by my vascular service.

As a strong and vocal patient advocate, I regularly appear in the national press on issues such as provision of funding for limb salvage programmes, economic restructuring of the healthcare system and cardiovascular health and public awareness concerns.

Editorial Board Member of International Peer-Reviewed Journals

Journal of Endovascular Therapy

The official journal of the International Society of Endovascular Specialists, Allen Press Publishing Services

Reviewer for International Peer-Reviewed Journals

Journal of Endovascular Therapy

The official journal of the International Society of Endovascular Specialists, Allen Press Publishing Services

Annals of Vascular Surgery Elsevier Inc.

Vascular

The official journal of the international Society of Vascular Specialists, The Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd,

Journal of Biomechanics

Affiliated to the American Society of Biomechanics, the International Society of Biomechanics, the European Society of Biomechanics, the Japanese Society for Clinical Biomechanics and the Australian and New Zealand Society of Biomechanics, Elsevier Inc.

Heart And Vessels

Springer Science and Business Media