Imperial College wins Queen's Anniversary Prize

November 16, 2000

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine has won a Queen's Anniversary Prize for its outstanding contribution in the area of research and training in surgery. The announcement was made on the evening of 16 November at a reception at St James's Palace.

Professor Ara Darzi, Head of the Department of Surgical Oncology and Technology, Division of Surgery, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Imperial College School of Medicine, and his team were recognised for their world class achievements in pioneering new technologies to address training requirements for trainee surgeons, surgeons in post and other professionals.

Their innovative work in the use of simulations and virtual reality is internationally recognised as offering a way forward for surgical education.

Lord Oxburgh, Rector, Imperial College, said: "I am delighted that Professor Ara Darzi and his team have been awarded such a prestigious prize for their pioneering work in advanced surgical technologies."

Professor Darzi's team is internationally recognised for their research into advanced surgical technologies and their clinical application. The research focuses on the way surgeons acquire, and are taught, the manual skills necessary to practise as surgeons and how these skills can be measured and enhanced.

The team have also developed a number of instruments, devices and procedures that impact on surgery, particularly minimal access surgery. They also undertake biological research related to new surgical procedures.

The team have pioneered a number of virtual-reality simulations which allow common surgical procedures to be practised repeatedly in a non-patient environment. They have developed a computer-based device which tracks the movements that a surgeon makes when operating and computes scores of how dextrous he or she is on the basis of time taken, distance travelled and the number of movements.

The device can be used in real surgery or in training with plastic models or virtual-reality simulators. These techniques have also been applied to ascertain the effects of other factors, such as sleep deprivation, on a surgeon's performance, and to measure the effectiveness of new technologies and training methods.

Professor Ara Darzi, Head of Department and Professor of Surgery, said: "We are privileged to receive this honour in recognition of our efforts."

The Prizes will be presented by Her Majesty The Queen at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in February 2001.
Notes to editors:

1) The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education recognise and reward the outstanding contribution that universities and colleges in the United Kingdom make to the intellectual, economic, cultural and social life of the nation. The Prizes are awarded within the national honours system.

The Prizes Scheme was established in 1993 by The Royal Anniversary Trust, a charity set up initially to bring about the national programmes to mark the Fortieth Anniversary in 1992 of The Queen's Accession to the Throne.

2) Professor Ara Darzi is Professor of Surgery, and Head of the Department of Surgical Oncology and Technology, Imperial College School of Medicine, St Mary's campus. He is also Tutor in Laparoscopic Surgery, Minimal Access Therapy Training Unit, Royal College of Surgeons of England, and a Consultant Surgeon at St Mary's Hospital, London.

Professor Darzi is a clinical academic - a fully trained specialist medical practitioner employed by Imperial College to undertake research, teach undergraduate medical students, train young doctors and also carry out clinical practice in the National Health Service. He has recently been made a member of the NHS Modernisation Board.

In January 2000 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between The Royal College of Surgeons of England and Imperial College to develop a new method of assessing surgical performance.

This is the first collaborative project with a Royal College. Overseen by Professor Darzi, the five-year surgical skills research programme will evaluate: the integration of performance assessment into Royal College courses the role of computer-based simulation as an adjunct to surgical training and assessment; and the validation of physical and computer-based simulations as assessment tools in the maintenance of optimal surgical performance.

3) Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is an independent constituent part of the University of London. Founded in 1907, the College teaches a full range of science, engineering, medical and management disciplines at the highest level. The College is the largest applied science and technology university institution in the UK, with one of the largest annual turnovers (UKP330 million in 1998-99) and research incomes (UKP173 million in 1998-99). Web site at

Imperial College London

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