Intensive course: Surgical Research Essentials (SuRE)

A good understanding of surgical research is an essential part of being a surgeon. Good quality research and the ability to apply it clinically is the cornerstone in evidence based practice. In training the surgeons of the future, compulsory research requirements have now been incorporated into every surgical training program. Not only that, research experience and output has become one of the differentiators in many job and training position applications.

Even if being an active researcher does not become part of your surgical career, a sound working knowledge of the ins and outs of research is essential. There is no better way to understand evidence based surgery than to be involved in a few research projects.

Despite these expectations on aspiring surgeons to participate in research, there has been a paucity of structured teaching in basic research knowledge and skills with a surgical focus. This seems to be true both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This Monash University short course has been developed to fill this void.

This course aims to introduce you to a variety of study designs that are most relevant to surgical research. Through a series of hands-on workshops, you will also learn practical skills in conducting a surgical research project. We hope to deliver a course that is both interesting and challenging, thus provide a foundation for you to build on, all through a casual learning environment.

2020 Course details

  • Dates: 13-14 June, 25-26 July, 5-6 September
  • Time: 8am-5pm
  • Venue: Seminar Room 1 Level 5, Alfred Centre
  • Fee options & enquiries:

An introductory course designed for:

  • SET Trainees
  • Pre-SET Trainees
  • Interns & Residents
  • Medical Students
    (Year 3+ / BMedSc / Honours)
  • Early graduate research

Course overview:

  • Delivered over 3 weekends, to accommodate for the busy surgical week.
  • Workshops are hands-on with a focus on practical research skills.
  • Faculty are made up of academic surgeons.
  • Can be an aid to completing current projects.
  • Gives an insight into surgical research, and provides a foundation to build on.
  • Time efficient way to learn research skills, and complete an existing project at the same time.
  • Participants are required to familiarise themselves with pre-course and intra-course reading materials.

The course is a collection of workshops covering all aspects of surgical research – from concept to publication.

Day 1 – The Basics of Surgical Research
Study designs, hypothesis & literature review.

Day 2 – Statistics day 1
6-month STATA license included

Day 3 – Conducting the Study
Dealing with data, data analysis & study methodology.

Day 4 – Statistics day 2
6-month STATA license included

Day 5 – Presentation & Manuscript
Presenting at a meeting & writing for publication

Day 6 – Journal Submission & Beyond
The publication process & where to from here?

By the end of the course, the participants should:

  • have an understanding of the role of surgical research and the importance of evidence-based surgical practice.
  • be familiar with the common study designs.
  • be able to critically appraise and evaluate the surgical literature.
  • be familiar with the basic workflow of conducting a simple surgical research project.
  • have a good understanding of the statistical methods commonly used in surgical research.
  • feel confident in submitting a conference abstract to a meeting, and in giving an oral presentation in a scientific forum.
  • be able to write a complete manuscript for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.


  • Pre-course reading guide.
  • Course notes & folder.
  • STATA license (6-months).
  • Morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea.
  • Certificate.
  • Pearls of wisdom!

Mr James Lee

James Lee

James is a general surgeon from the Monash University Endocrine Surgery Unit at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. After completing surgical training, James undertook further subspecialty training in Endocrine Surgery both at Austin Health in Melbourne, and as the T.S. Reeve Fellow at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. Following the clinical fellowships, James undertook full time research work at the Kolling Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, culminating in the award his PhD by the University of Sydney. His PhD thesis made significant contributions to the current understanding of the role of tumour and circulating miRNA biomarkers, specifically, in the recurrence of papillary thyroid cancer.

At present, through his appointments as Senior Lecturer at Monash University, and as the Younger Fellows Representative on the RACS Section of Academic Surgery Committee, James continues to pursue his interests in academic surgery and surgical education alongside his clinical practice.

Mr Nassif Hossain

Nassif Hossain

Mr Nassif Hossain currently works at the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University (Australia) as a lecturer and Research Associate.

Md Nassif does research in Health Economics, Medical Technology and Public Health.

Professor Wendy Brown

Wendy Brown

Professor Wendy Brown is the Chair of the Monash University Department of Surgery at the Alfred, Director of the Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) and clinical lead of the Bariatric Surgery Registry. Her area of clinical expertise is upper gastrointestinal surgery. Her research focuses mainly on the health effects of weight loss and the function of the oesophagogastric junction.

She is a senior examiner for General Surgery at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and has been in the Victorian State Ministerial Cancer Taskforce, Bariatric working party, and the Tasmanian Department of Health working party on Bariatric Surgery. In 2011 she was appointed a member of the Victorian Surgical Consultative Council. Wendy is a past president of OSSANZ, president elect of ANZGOSA and Chair of the IFSO scientific committee.

She has primarily supervised one PhD student and two BMedSci students to completion, and currently supervises two PhD students and one Master of Surgery student.

Mr Sebastian King

Sebastian King

Sebastian is a paediatric surgeon with a subspecialty interest in colorectal conditions. He completed his PhD in 2008 with The University of Melbourne at The Royal Children’s Hospital. His research focused upon the motility patterns of children affected by slow transit constipation. His PhD was supported by scholarships from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the NHMRC.

Following completion of his paediatric surgical training at The Royal Children’s Hospital, he underwent further colorectal and neonatal surgical training at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, USA and The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.

Sebastian’s clinical work focuses on children born with anorectal malformations or Hirschsprung disease, and those affected by chronic constipation or short bowel disease. His ongoing research is supported by his MCRI Career Development Award, and he is the current recipient of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Senior Lecturer Fellowship.

A/Prof Silvana Marasco

Silvana Marasco

Associate Professor Silvana Marasco is a cardiothoracic surgeon working at the Epworth and Alfred hospitals. She has been the Deputy Director of the Cardiothoracic Unit at The Alfred for the last eight years. Silvana performs over 300 heart and lung operations each year including heart transplants, lung transplants and the implantation of mechanical heart assist devices. She also is a busy researcher with over 100 peer reviewed publications and book chapters, and has completed a Master of Surgery, a Master of Bioethics and a PhD. Her research endeavours have attracted over $6M in funding to date.

Mr Brandyn Lau

Brandyn Lau

Brandyn Lau is an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Health Sciences Informatics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Associate Faculty in the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. He co-directs the Analytics Leadership in Patient Safety Program, a competitive nine-month training program focused on the science of data analysis, visualization, and use in clinical settings. His primary research interest is in the use of electronic health record data to improve care quality, patient safety, and clinical education. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, and has received more than $5 million in extramural research funding to study and enhance the use of health information technology in hospitals. He completed an MPH at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in epidemiology and biostatistics, and trained in clinical and public health informatics at the Johns Hopkins University.


Understanding research, let alone undertaking my own project, always seemed like a daunting task. I was uncertain where to begin and what techniques and methods I should be using. This engaging course covers practical measures that make the process of research easier to understand. A wide variety of topics, from study design to organising and analysing data, are succinctly summarised and delivered in in a relaxed, informal manner that encourages participation.

Through his course, Mr James Lee and his team have empowered me. I now have the tools and confidence to undertake my own project and succeed, and would highly recommend this course.

"Very well presented. I liked how the talk had a clinical focus. Concepts I previously found challenging were explained really well & clearly. Right amount of revision of basics & also good cover of new material which were also explained in terms of applying to a paper."

"Excellent speakers, enthusiastic sessions, well-tailored to specific needs within the group"

"Thoroughly enjoyed, found it extremely relevant and makes me look forward to commencing surgical research"