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CUH expert in women’s health recognised

03 March 2015
An expert in women’s health at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) has been recognised as one of the leading researchers in the UK.

The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) award recognised Dr Mark Slack’s clinical research work over the last five years.

Dr Slack was presented with the award by the Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, last month.

Dr Mark Slack with his awardDr Slack is the lead clinician at the Department of Urogynaecology and Reconstructive Surgery at CUH. He established the Urogynaecology department at CUH and leads up a team of three consultants at the Rosie Hospital that sees around 1,200 referrals and follow-ups each year.

Dr Slack said: “I’m obviously delighted to be recognised by the National Institute of Health Research and this shows that we have a very active research unit at CUH – one which is getting grants and delivering results.”

When he joined Cambridge University Hospitals in 2002, having qualified from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and undergone postgraduate training at the University of Cape Town and research in Liverpool, Dr Slack wanted to establish an internationally renowned research unit and he has fulfilled that objective.

The unit has contributed to the development of a diagnostic tool for the assessment of bladder function; a surgical retractor; and a new minimally invasive surgical procedure for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse, a condition which occurs when a pelvic organ – such as the bladder – drops from its normal place in the lower belly and pushes against the walls of the patient’s vagina.

A highly influential study that Dr Slack took part in during that period was the use of botulinum toxin (Botox) for people with bladder disorders, a problem that the South African-born doctor is passionate about. Published in 2012, the Relax Study has gone on to inform the NICE guidance for the use of this substance in the therapeutic area.

Dr Slack has recently been awarded a NIHR grant to conduct a study on preterm labour, which is still a major cause of infant mortality when the mouth of the womb cannot support the baby.

Traditionally, people have tied the cervix down with a stitch but Dr Slack has questioned the material used and believes that it may contribute to the women going into labour before their due date. The purpose of the study – which has received £1m in funding – is to find a better alternative material.