The Commission on the Future of Surgery

The Commission on the Future of Surgery was set up in October 2017 by the Royal College of Surgeons. It is an independent group of 14 experts, who were tasked with identifying likely advances in medicine and technology in the next twenty years, and their implications for patients, the surgical workforce and healthcare system.

Commissioners sought and collected evidence, analysed the evidence received, and recommended actions to enable innovation and improve patient outcomes. Members of the Commission are:

Mr Richard Kerr
- Chair

Richard Kerr qualified from The London Hospital, and trained in surgery and neurosurgery in London, Northampton, Oxford and Melbourne. Based at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, he has been a consultant for 24 years. With a wide cranial and spinal practice, he has subspecialty interests in skull base tumours, oncology and vascular disease. He devised and runs the Oxford Skull Base Practice and is a member of the NFII clinic, a nationally co-ordinated regional service. Research has led to publication of more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and 15 book chapters.

He was Co-Principal Investigator in the MRC-funded International Subarachnoid Aneurysm Trial (ISAT). The publication of this trial has led to a global change in the management of aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage, with invitations to speak to learned societies from all over the world. Active in management, and a recently trained civil and commercial mediator, he has been Lead Clinician of the Neurosurgical Department, Clinical Centre Chairman of the Radcliffe Infirmary and Chairman of the Relocation Steering Committee of Services to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Elected to the Council of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS) in 2003, he was appointed Treasurer of the SBNS in 2010 and Member of the Neurosurgical SAC in 2011, later serving as President of the SBNS between 2014 and 2016. With interests in co-operation between the specialist surgical associations, audit and surgical outcome data, he was elected to the Council of The Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2013.

Professor Nick Black
- Professor of Health Services Research, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Nick Black's main research interests are methods of assessing the quality of care (particularly surgery and dementia care), patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), the relationship between research and policy, and the history of health services.

He co-edits the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, was founding Chair of the UK Health Services Research Network, and in 2006 published Walking London’s medical history to raise public understanding of health services and healthcare policy through seven walks through London.

Since 2007, he has advised the Department of Health and NHS England on quality assessment including avoidable hospital deaths, PROMs and national clinical audits and enquiries. In 2013 he was the first recipient of an international Career Achievement Award for work on PROMs by the Medical Outcomes Trust, USA and in 2017 was knighted for services to health care research.

Dr Will Cavendish
- Economist, past leading Civil Servant and expert in AI and digital technologies

From October 2016 to September 2017, Will Cavendish was Strategy Lead for the Applied side of DeepMind, the world-leading AI company. In this role he was responsible for helping take the incredible breakthroughs in AI coming from DeepMind’s research, and applying them to solve major social problems in the world.

Before joining DeepMind, he was a Director General in the UK government. Between 2014 and 2016, he was Director General of Innovation, Growth and Technology in the Department of Health, responsible for overseeing the delivery of technology and digital programmes to transform the NHS; for the effective and innovative use of medicines, devices and pharmacy; for promoting growth, jobs and exports in the digital, genomics and pharma sectors; and for ensuring the secure and effective use of data in the health and care system. From 2011 to 2014 he ran the Implementation Group in the Cabinet Office, working directly to the then-PM and DPM, and responsible for ensuring the government’s top domestic policy priorities were driven forward effectively.

As a senior civil servant in the UK government, he led a series of breakthrough projects – driving the start of the mass take-up of online booking and prescription services in the NHS, negotiating landmark deals that made new drugs and vaccines available to NHS patients for the first time, and co-creating Change4Life, the acclaimed social movement tackling obesity and physical inactivity. He led the creation of the world's first network of What Works Centres, set up to provide hard evidence on effective uses of public money, and pioneered the use of transparency and crowdsourcing in policy making with initiatives such as MyNHS and the Red Tape Challenge.

He has held other senior posts in education and public health, and has had a distinguished career as an economist, working for the World Bank and a number of other international agencies.

Professor Rajesh Chopra
- Director of Cancer Therapeutics Unit, Cancer Research UK

Raj Chopra trained in Medicine at University College London. He then completed his training in general medicine at major teaching hospitals in London, gaining membership of the Royal College of Physicians. He undertook a PhD in cell signalling and growth receptors followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Waller Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, where he worked for Professor D Metcalf who was the first to culture human hematopoietic stem cells and discover both G and GM-CSF.

Subsequently, he set up his own research group in Stem Cell and Leukemia Biology at the Paterson Institute of Cancer Research. At the same time he was appointed Director of Hematological Oncology, leading one of the largest Bone Marrow Transplant and Leukemia Programmes in Europe at the Christie Hospital in Manchester. From 2004 to 2009, he was part of the leadership team for the largest oncology group in AstraZeneca and established Translational Medicine for AstraZeneca in Boston, MA. He was involved in taking six small molecules and two antibodies from discovery into clinical trials. From 2009 to 2016 he was leader of the Executive R&D Team and Corporate Vice President of Translational and Early Drug Development at Celgene Corporation, Summit, NJ, where he led a team of more than 100 scientists in San Diego, San Francisco and Seville, and a team of clinicians involved in taking agents from discovery to proof-of-concept clinical trials in oncology and immune/inflammatory disease, as well as stem cell therapies. These teams were responsible for taking nine small molecule and one antibody projects into early clinical trials in healthy volunteers and patients.

He has been a member of the MRC Molecular and Cell Biology Board and the MRC Stem Cell Committee. He has extensive experience of successful partnering with biotech. In addition, he has been a Non-Executive Director for e-Therapeutics (Oxford) and has been on the board of Agios (Boston, MA).

In January 2016, he moved back to the UK to take up the position as Director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and Head of the Division of Cancer Therapeutics. He is currently a member of the CRUK Drug Discovery Committee and of the Scientific Board of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), Scientific Advisory Board of Pancreatic Cancer UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity Research Assessment Panel (RAP).

Professor Sue Clark
- Director of the St Mark’s Hospital Polyposis Registry

Sue Clark trained at the University of Cambridge, St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School and in the South West Thames Region, as well as undertaking a period of full-time research as an Imperial Cancer Research Fund fellow. She is a consultant colorectal surgeon at St Mark’s Hospital, Harrow, UK and Adjunct Professor of Surgery at Imperial College, London. Additional roles include Director of the St Mark's Hospital Polyposis Registry, Administrative Officer of the International Society for Gastrointestinal Hereditary Tumours and Dean of the St Mark's Academic Institute.

Her main clinical and research interests are colorectal cancer genetics, polyposis syndromes, colorectal cancer biology and ileoanal pouch dysfunction.

Gill Gaskin
- Medical Director, Specialist Hospital Board, UCLH

Gill Gaskin graduated from Cambridge and trained in renal and general medicine at Hammersmith Hospital and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, completing a PhD on the biology of systemic vasculitis.

Between 1995 and 2010, she held consultant-level posts at Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospitals and Imperial College Healthcare Trusts, with additional responsibilities as Director of Postgraduate Medical Education and Professional Development, Clinical Director and latterly Director for the Medicine Clinical Programme Group.

She is a member of the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management.

Miss Nadine Hachach-Haram
- Co-founder of Proximie© and Plastic Surgery Registrar

Nadine Hachach-Haram is a Plastic Surgery Registrar, honorary lecturer and clinical entrepreneur. She received her BSc from University College London receiving the Jack Drummond and Jackson Lewis prizes, for top marks in the Faculty and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and securing a Nuffield Grant for research. She began her medical career in earnest in 2004, enrolling in the accelerated graduate entry program at Barts and the London, where she graduated in 2009, with distinction, and earned the Harvey Minasian Prize for academic excellence.

She has been appointed as an NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow, Council member of BAPRAS Innovation UK, a UCL Honorary Clinical Lecturer, SAC Plastic Surgery Simulation task force, President of BFIRST trainee members, and council member of the Royal Society of Medicine, plastic surgery section.

She co-founded Proximie in 2014, a device agnostic augmented reality platform that allows doctors to virtually transport themselves in to any operating room to guide, teach, train and support other surgeons and medical experts. Proximie has enjoyed significant success with early adoption by major medical institutions and NGOs and has been dubbed by CNN as the "Future of Surgery" and won multiple awards including Foreign Press Association Science Story of the Year.

Ros Levenson
- Chair of the RCS Patient and Lay Group

Ros Levenson has been a member of the Royal College of Surgeons Patient and Lay Group (PLG) since February 2016 and became Chair of the PLG in July 2016.

After taking a degree in political theory and institutions and a postgraduate diploma in applied social studies, her early career was in social work and social services training and development. She then became Director of the Greater London of Community Health Councils for several years, after which she became an independent researcher and policy consultant. For the past 20 years she has worked on health and social care topics for a range of statutory and voluntary organisations and she has published widely in these areas, particularly on patient experience, patient and public involvement, medical professionalism, NHS workforce issues, old age, age discrimination and long-term conditions.

She has also held a number of public appointments, including:

  • Appointed member of the Architects Registration Board since 2013 (continuing)
  • Non-executive director of the NHS Litigation Authority (2013–2016)
  • Member of the National Research Ethics Advisors Panel (part of the Health Research Authority) (2012–2016)
  • Member of General Medical Council; Chair of the GMC’s Standards and Ethics committee and member of postgraduate education board (2009–2012)
  • Lay member of the National Commissioning Group (2007–2010)
  • Member of the Ethics and Confidentiality Committee (formerly the Patient Information Advisory Group) (2005–2010)
  • Non-executive director of an NHS trust (1997–2007) and deputy chair (2001–2007)
  • Lay member of the Health Professions Council (HPC – now HCPC) (2004–2006)


Professor Lorna Marson
- President of the British Transplantation Society

Lorna Marson is Professor of Transplant Surgery at the University of Edinburgh, and honorary consultant surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. She is clinical lead for renal transplantation in Edinburgh, and led the development of antibody incompatible transplantation in the region. She held a Clinician Scientist Award from the Academy of Medical Sciences/ Health Foundation from 2003 to 2008, and continues to work in clinically relevant research in renal transplantation, with translation of a novel agent from bench to bedside.

She is President of the British Transplantation Society, and was Associate Postgraduate Dean for Surgery in South East Scotland until August 2017. She is a council member on the Society for Academic and Research Surgery.

Professor Dion Morton
- Head of the Academic Department of Surgery and Deputy Head at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham

Dion Morton is Barling Professor of Surgery and Head of the Academic Department of Surgery at the University of Birmingham. He was given an honorary consultant appointment at the University Hospital Birmingham in 1996, and was appointed Barling Professor of Surgery in 2015. He is also Deputy Head at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at University of Birmingham.

He is Director of the West Midlands Genomics Medicine Centre and Director of Clinical Research at the Royal College of Surgeons of England as well as Director of the Birmingham Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, co-Director of the NIHR Global Surgery Unit Birmingham and Research Committee Chair for the European Society of Coloproctology.

His primary research interests are in clinical and translational research for colorectal cancer and the development of clinical trials in surgery.

Dr Liam O’Toole
- Chief Executive of Versus Arthritis

Arthritis Research UK merged with Arthritis Care on 1st November 2017. Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care have a shared ambition to support people with arthritis to live full and active lives. The unmet need of people with arthritis is substantial and by coming together, we will have a greater impact on the 10 million people currently living with the condition. Liam will be chief executive officer of the new organisation.

Liam has led Arthritis Research UK since 2009. Under Liam’s leadership the organisation has undergone transformational change and emerged as a modern, third sector organisation with the needs of people with arthritis central to everything it does. The merger will allow continued investment in breakthrough treatments plus the best information and support to help people push back the pain, isolation and fatigue of arthritis.

Before joining Arthritis Research UK, Liam played a leading role in many of the major changes that have taken place in the UK’s health and medical research landscape over the last decade. Between January 2007 and November 2009 he was head of the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR), a joint office funded by the Department of Health and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, set up to develop a more coherent strategic approach to publicly funded health research. Before his role with OSCHR Liam spent three years as chief executive of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration and was the first administrative director of the National Cancer Research Institute following 16 years’ experience of research management at the Medical Research Council and the British Diabetic Association (now Diabetes UK).

Mr Adrian Sugar
- Chair, Centre for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery

Adrian Sugar trained in Leeds, Teesside, Manchester, South Wales, Washington DC, Basel, Arnhem and Lucknow. He took up a consultant surgeon post in Chepstow in 1985 in the Welsh Centre for Burns, Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery transferring with that unit to Morriston Hospital in Swansea where he has been a consultant cleft and maxillofacial surgeon and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Swansea University Medical School.

His main interests have been in Cleft and Craniofacial Deformity and Trauma. For the past 11 years he has been clinical director of the Wales Centre for Cleft Lip and Palate. He has a major interest in 3D imaging and planning for facial reconstruction and remains Chair of the Centre for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery (CARTIS), a collaboration between Morriston Hospital and the design engineers at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

He chaired NHS England’s Clinical Reference Group for Cleft Lip and Palate from its inception and the UK Cleft Development Group for six years. He is an elected trustee of the AO Foundation having sat on its Academic Council, the International Board for Craniomaxillofacial (CMF) surgery, and chaired AO’s international research fund for all specialties and its research committee for CMF surgery. He has been President of the Craniofacial Society of Great Britain and Ireland and is now an honorary fellow for life. He has been training programme director for OMFS in Wales and chair of its specialty training committee. He has chaired his health board’s paediatric surgery committee and Morriston Hospital’s Medical Staff. He has more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in the literature as well as 10 book chapters and 170 lectures by invitation. He has been awarded the international Tjellstrom Award for excellence in rehabilitation of the head and neck and the Down Surgical Prize of the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He is now an honorary consultant at Morriston Hospital.

Professor Guang-Zhong Yang
- Director and Co-founder of the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery

Guang-Zhong Yang is director and co-founder of the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery. The Hamlyn Centrewas established to develop safe, effective and accessible imaging, sensing and robotics technologies that can reshape the future of healthcare for both developing and developed countries. Focusing on technological innovation but with a strong emphasis on clinical translation and direct patient benefit with a global impact, the centre is at the forefront of research in imaging, sensing and robotics for addressing global health challenges associated with demographic, environment, social and economic changes.

His main research interests are in medical imaging, sensing and robotics. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, fellow of IEEE, IET, AIMBE and a recipient of the Royal Society Research Merit Award and listed in The Times Eureka ‘Top 100’ in British Science. He is the founding editor of Science Robotics – a journal of the Science family dedicated to the latest advances in robotics and how it enables or underpins new scientific discoveries. He was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s 2017 New Year’s Honours List for his work in biomedical engineering.

Professor Tony Young
- National Clinical Lead for Innovation NHS England

  • National Clinical Lead for Innovation NHS England
  • Consultant Urological Surgeon and Clinical Lead for Innovation Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Innovation Lead Essex Success Regime/STP
  • President Institute of Decontamination Sciences
  • Director of Medical Innovation, Anglia Ruskin University

Tony Young is a practising frontline NHS surgeon, Director of Medical Innovation at Anglia Ruskin University, and has founded four med-tech start-ups. He has also co-founded the £500m Anglia Ruskin MedTech Campus which is set to become one of the world’s largest health innovation spaces.

In 2014 he was appointed as National Clinical Director for Innovation at NHS England and in February 2016 became the first National Clinical Lead for Innovation. In this role he provides clinical leadership and support in delivering improved health outcomes in England and drives the uptake of proven innovations across the NHS, promotes economic growth through innovation and helps make the NHS the go-to place on the planet for medical innovation. In 2015, he founded the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur programme. This has become the world’s largest entrepreneurial workforce development programme for clinicians.