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Experts from across Europe share best practice at GI event

Nearly 100 delegates attended a NIHR conference with the theme ‘Optimising recruitment to GI clinical trials via multidisciplinary teams (MDTs)’.

The event was jointly organised and funded by CRN North Thames, CRN South London, CRN North West London and CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex. It was also sponsored by Evergreen Life and Servier.

The aim of this event was to enhance the understanding and contribution of MDTs to clinical and translational research, with the view that all GI patients should have the opportunity to participate in research during their diagnosis and treatment for cancer.

Clinical speakers came from across Europe to address an audience largely made up of research professionals within gastroenterology, surgery and gastrointestinal oncology.


Among the speakers were Professor Laurence Lovat, above, of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who spoke on successes and challenges of gastroenterology studies, and Professor Colin Rees, from Newcastle University, who focused on screening, prevention and early diagnosis of colorectal cancer.

Fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes spoke of her experience of getting cutting-edge immunotherapy treatment for cancer.

Dame Zandra, below, discovered she had cancer after getting a feeling of fullness in her stomach during a yoga session in February, 2020.

An x-ray showed a growth in her bile duct. “I was told that I had six to nine months to live,” Dame Zandra explained.


The treatment has helped her far exceed this prognosis, however. “Every three weeks, I go to the clinic and again receive this [immunotherapy] infusion. This treatment I have now been receiving since October 2020 and it is now 2023!” she told the audience.

“I encourage people who think they have cancer to see their doctor and be willing to participate in trials,” Dame Zandra emphasised.

Dr Khurum Khan, CRN North Thames Research Specialty Lead for Gastrointestinal Oncology, co-chaired the event alongside Professor Brian Davidson and Dr Jonathan Landy, Dr Khan’s counterparts in Surgery and Gastroenterology respectively.

Dr Landy said: “This event was fantastic with presentations of exceptional quality from research leaders in gastroenterology, surgery and oncology. These highlighted the challenges of research recruitment for cancer patients across the specialties and how we might work together to optimise recruitment.

“The structure of the day was excellent with powerful patient talks reaffirming the value of our aspiration to optimise GI cancer research recruitment.

“The workshops were a fantastic opportunity to share challenges and also solutions to improve engagement and recruitment.

“Overall I felt the day was a huge success, bringing together leading researchers, research engaged clinicians, research teams and cancer specialist nurses all with the shared goal of improving engagement and optimising recruitment to GI cancer cancers.”

Feedback from delegates at the event was positive. One said: “The whole day was very enjoyable and very beneficial.” Another said their key takeaway message was “the importance of flagging research and engaging leads to share knowledge to provide the care to patients of the highest level.”

Of the workshops run on the day, one delegate said hearing how MDT meetings are run at other NHS trusts was helpful.

The event took place at Mary Ward House in central London.