25 years of supporting research and training


prof abhay rane cycling in vietnam for tuf

Prof Abhay Rane OBE is a consultant urological surgeon, Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and a pioneer of laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery in the UK. In 2000, he was awarded a TUF clinical visit fellowship.

“Early data suggested recovery from laparoscopic surgery was quicker and the patient stay was shorter than traditional open surgery so I visited Dr J Stuart Wolf, a pioneer of hand assisted laparoscopic surgery, at the University of Michigan as part of the scholarship. I managed to translate some of those skills to my clinical practice when I returned to the UK.

“As time went on, we took on more challenging cases and eventually set up a mentorship scheme, which was one of the highlights of my career.

“In 2006, I got involved in single-port surgery. That led to a procedure where we took a kidney out of a bellybutton, the first single-port nephrectomy in the world.

“Once we’d shown it could be done, the technique was adopted by a number of other specialties and led to a dedicated single port robotic platform being developed a couple of years ago.

“I was a member of the TUF Science and Education Committee which I really enjoyed, helping select talented young urologists for the research awards.

“I’ve been part of the TUF fundraising cycle rides since 2012 and several of my patients have been incredibly generous in their support, helping TUF to continue its vital work.

“TUF is special. We really do make a difference.”

Professor James Catto was a TUF Research Scholar in 2000. He is the first recipient of a NIHR Research Professorship to a urologist.

“I came into urology and wanted to do research, but was unsure if academia was my future. The TUF scholarship was enough to generate pilot data, pick up sufficient lab skills and make me competitive at a national level, enabling me to secure funding for my PhD, investigating the genetics of bladder cancer.

“I worked out one underlying mechanism was to do with changes in DNA methylation. This led to a clinical trial, looking at drugs that reverse changes in DNA methylation in melanoma, bladder and lung cancer.

“Throughout my career, my research has reflected the problems that I’ve come across in the clinic. As a consultant, I became concerned about BCG as the standard first line choice. This led to a trial called BRAVO comparing cystectomy versus BCG for high-risk non-invasive disease, and the use of ERAS protocols in Cystectomy care.

“We’re just finishing the iROC study, which is a TUF-supported clinical trial of robotic surgery versus open cystectomy and look forward to reporting on that soon”.