4 May 2023

Dear Fellows and Members,

The last couple of months have been exceptionally busy with travel and events which have given me many opportunities to see first-hand some of the wonderful initiatives happening all over the country and internationally.

I have just returned from Melbourne where I was proud to award an RCSI Honorary Fellowship to Professor Graham Clarke, ENT surgeon and a pioneer of multi-channel cochlear implants to treat profound deafness, the first major advance in facilitating deaf children and adults to communicate in the world of sound. Professor Clarke is a great personal and professional hero of mine, making the honour even more meaningful.

In March the prize for the best poster presentation at the meeting of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS) was won by Dr Jack Henry, an academic intern working in Beaumont Hospital. Dr Henry presented his paper on 'Risk Factor Synergism in Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Haemorrhage' on behalf of the National Neurosurgical Centre at Beaumont Hospital and RCSI. Huge congratulations to Dr Henry and the wider team; I shall be following his career with interest.

I learned with great sadness of the recent passing of our dear friend, Professor Dermot Hehir, RCSI Fellow and former Consultant Surgeon of Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore. He was an exceptional person and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. As a mark of respect, we postponed our Doing the Rounds Roadshow in the Midlands, which was due to take place on Wednesday, 19 April 2023. We will let everyone know in due course when the meeting reconvenes.

This year we have already lost a number of esteemed RCSI Fellows including Mr Hy (Hyacinth) Browne, Mr Paul Eustace, Mr Imran Sharif, Mr David O'Donovan and Mr Henry Osborne. Each one has made a huge impact on surgery over the years and leaves an important legacy. On behalf of everyone at RCSI, I send condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.

We are already planning the 46th Millin Lecture which will be delivered during the Millin Meeting on 10 November 2023. This is a prestigious lectureship open to all surgical specialties and I encourage RCSI Fellows to nominate suitable candidates who are either Members or Fellows of the College in good standing. Completed applications must be received before Thursday, 31 August 2023.

I am very much looking forward to our Fellows, Members and Diplomats Conferring ceremonies, which will take place in Penang, Malaysia, on Sunday, 11 June 2023 and in Dublin on Monday, 3 July 2023. These are days of great joy and incredible achievement for all involved and I wouldn’t miss them for the world.

I want to congratulate my colleagues in RCSI Surgical Affairs on the establishment of the Faculty of Surgical Trainers, chaired by Professor Calvin Coffey, RCSI Council Member, which is developing and implementing a range of initiatives to support RCSI’s surgical trainers in the delivery of our accredited training programmes.

They have also been instrumental in releasing a range of free supports and resources for all NCHDs working in Ireland. There are over 1,000 surgical NCHDs working in the Irish health service, but unfortunately over 64% are in posts outside of structured training. RCSI is committed to supporting all NCHDs, not just those on structured training programmes.

RCSI Surgical Affairs has just completed the annual intake process for the National Surgical Training Programme, with 283 candidates being interviewed for 134 training posts across Core and Specialty training. There has been a huge emphasis on promoting diversity and gender equality, and the proportion of female candidates in the training programme has increased from from 27% in 2017 to 48% this year. This year applications came from 34 different nationalities, up from just 12 in 2017, which shows great progress.

The Mater Misericordiae recently held a fascinating art exhibition by artists Inȇs-Hermione Mulford and Méabh Hennelly to coincide with the conclusion of a major surgical research project. ‘Beyond the Surface: Art, Illuminating the Future of Surgery’ was a multimedia exhibition inspired by the fusion of science, biology, disease and humanity that underlies a field-leading translational clinical research programme combining artificial intelligence and fluorescent dyes for better cancer surgery. This was an innovative way to communicate the impact of such projects and I send my congratulations to all involved.

Finally, huge congratulations to my colleagues in RCSI Library, who have just been awarded funding from the Heritage Council to celebrate the life and legacy of pioneering Irish surgeon Abraham Colles on the 250th anniversary of his birth in 2023. Abraham Colles (1773-1843) was a surgeon, physician and anatomist, and a leading figure in the golden age of Irish medicine in the 19th century. He had a strong connection with RCSI being a past pupil, professor, Fellow and President.

As I take up my second year of office as RCSI President, it is wonderful to be celebrating such a fine past President and his achievements.

I look forward to seeing many of you over the coming months as we continue to achieve great things together.

With best wishes, 

Professor Laura Viani
RCSI President