Professor John Kelly: the man at the heart of urology

05 April 2018, Sayara Muthuveloe

Professor John Kelly has been the Chair of our Science and Education committee for five years. In his role he has helped to shape urology research by developing our funding strategy and overseeing our awards process. He has been an integral part of driving forward new funding streams to engage Urologists, Nurses and research fellows through The Urology Foundation.

Now he is stepping down and he sat with Sayara from the TUF team to share some words for his colleagues in urology.

John, you’ve been the Chair of our Science and Education committee for five years. Tell us, has it been a good experience and, if so, why?

It’s been an overwhelmingly good experience. The urology community is unique; despite our number I have always felt that we know each other as individuals and we’re always interacting to share knowledge to improve patient care. 

TUF seeks to identify bright, motivated urologists who have potential to do great things. Through this I’ve been able to meet colleagues from across the country and have been discovering leaders of the future – it’s been a privilege.

You’ve given 5 years of service to TUF.  What do you think is important about the charity and how it functions?

TUF funding is vital for pump priming projects and we see again and again how the initial investment can lead to something larger with other charities coming in at the latter stages.  Importantly, TUF invests in people and their environment and by doing so we know that we are investing in a long-term relationship.

This focus hasn’t changed over the past 23 years and I believe that nurturing excellence is so important for the individual and ultimately impacts on patient care.

How has this evolved under your tenure?

TUF has extended its remit to fund projects with the annual major awards scheme; we now have the small project awards which fund great ideas which come from Consultants, Clinical Nurse Specialists and trainees.  The small project awards are designed to test and implement an idea which can improve patient care and do not have the same rigour of hypothesis testing.  They have become very popular and we are seeing a lot of applications involving digital technology, which is very exciting.

 You started out your relationship with TUF as one of the first recipients of a TUF research award nearly 25 years ago. What advice from your experience would you offer to your colleagues?

That’s right! Almost 25 years ago and I still have the silver letter opener that was awarded to me along with the funding. I’m still filled with pride whenever I use it!   The funding was so important for me and led to work in bladder cancer which has been my area of interest ever since.

I always impress upon my research fellows that research should be conducted to effect change.  The outcome must have an impact.  It can be bite size, whether that’s understanding part of a molecular process or a structured audit of clinical practice but it should be part of a larger process to challenge dogma and to make a change. Careers are progressed not by the amount of research you do but by the impact you have.

Thanks, John. Do have any parting words you’d like to share before you step down?

Personally, I’d like to say a big thank you to TUF for investing in my research all those years ago.  We’re very lucky to have The Urology Foundation; a charity that is focussed on investing in our profession. We shouldn’t forget its founders; Professors Roger Kirby and John Fitzpatrick who were visionaries.  Unfortunately John is not with us but it has been great working with Roger, he is continually giving his time, effort, and energy without asking for anything in return, all for the good of the urology profession.                    

It’s been a lot of fun and a privilege working with TUF. The foundation fosters excellence within the community, and it gets results. Long may that continue.


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