Macquarie University’s new Professor of Surgery, Vincent Lam, discusses his impressive work to date and what he plans to achieve while teaching the MD Program.
What is your background?
I am a liver, pancreas and gallbladder surgeon with a focus on treating patients with liver, bile duct, gallbladder and pancreas tumours. I received my medical degree at the University of Sydney in 1998. I completed the general surgical training program of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Sydney and a Master of Surgery degree at the University of Sydney in 2006. I spent two years of clinical fellowship in liver, pancreas and transplant surgery at Westmead Hospital in Sydney and Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong. In 2013, I was one of the first graduates of the Doctorate of Clinical Surgery at the University of Sydney with my thesis titled ‘Extending the frontiers of surgical resection of colorectal liver metastases’. I am currently an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Sydney and a consultant liver and pancreas surgeon at Westmead Hospital.
Prior to my time at Macquarie, I served as the Director of Surgical Education (General Surgery) at Sydney Medical School. I am currently the training supervisor of the Western Sydney training network (General Surgery) in NSW. Nationally, I serve as treasurer of the Australia and New Zealand Hepatic, Pancreatic & Biliary Association and I’m the councillor for the ANZ Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. I am also the immediate past president of the Australian Chinese Medical Association.
My main clinical and research interests include minimally invasive surgery of liver, gallbladder and pancreas as well as the multidisciplinary management of liver, pancreas, bile duct and gallbladder tumors. I also have a strong interest in robotic surgery and performed Australia’s first robotic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) in February 2014.
What are your current plans?
I have left Sydney University to join Macquarie as Professor of Surgery. I am teaching on the MD Program and will support Macquarie in becoming Australia’s preeminent innovator in education, research and in operating theatres.
Why did you choose your profession?
Ever since I started medical school, I have always wanted to be a surgeon. One of the appeals about surgery is that it is technical, and you can see the results of your work clearly and immediately and that fascinates me. Many of the cancers I now treat were incurable and terminal 20 years ago. Now we cure more than 50 per cent of the people we take to surgery with liver cancers and this is gratifying.
In my clinical practice, we help one patient at a time. But to be part of academic surgery, we can help more patients. Whether it is through training the next generation of doctors and surgeons; or performing innovative research that identifies new treatments or therapies; or developing clinical programs that change the way we manage a disease – it is to be part of moving the field forward. During my surgical training, I was exposed to many academic surgeons who were not only technical surgeons but also cutting-edge researchers and fantastic educators. After that, I knew I wanted to be an academic surgeon.
What’s a recent achievement you’re proud of?
I have now published more than 90 peer reviewed journal articles on innovative treatment strategies for liver and pancreatic cancer and on developing models for cancer surgery sequencing strategies. One of the highlights in my career is the award-winning smartphone app Westmead Acute Surgery Clinical Algorithm for medical students and surgical trainees’ education. I am very proud that this $2.99 app has been downloaded more than 1000 times in the past 24 months.
What’s planned for the future?
My vision is to make Macquarie’s Department of Surgery, Australia’s preeminent innovator in education, research and operating theatres. There has been great work by Macquarie’s urologists in prostate cancer through using the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System, with Macquarie the first hospital in Sydney to have the system. Following the strong tradition of innovation and exploration at Macquarie, I hope that the Department of Surgery can continue to work collaboratively to solve problems, to move the field forward, to make things better and to deliver the best care to our patients.
One of the greatest strengths at Macquarie is its collaborative environment. I am hoping to see more collaborative team approaches to many surgical procedures we perform and greater use of technology and research – in particular the robotic technologies. In addition, working together with our scientists, I believe our growing ability to manipulate tissues at the genetic and molecular level will contribute significantly to what we can do for our patients.
To contact Vincent, email email@example.com.