Young doctor at the cutting edge of modern surgery

Dr Tom Cundy receiving his General Sir John Monash Scholarship from the Governor-General Quentin Bryce QC.

Dr Tom Cundy receiving his General Sir John Monash Scholarship from the Governor-General Quentin Bryce QC.
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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

University of Adelaide medical graduate Tom Cundy has been awarded a $150,000 Federal Government scholarship to study for his PhD in robotic surgery in London later this year.

The 25-year-old College Park resident, who is about to commence a surgical residency at the Women's and Children's Hospital, is the only South Australian to be awarded a General Sir John Monash Scholarship in 2011.

He will explore new frontiers in modern surgery - minimally invasive techniques - under one of the world's most eminent academic surgeons, Professor Lord Ara Darzi, at Imperial College, London.

Dr Cundy has just completed his 12-month internship at the Royal Adelaide Hospital after graduating from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Medical Science (First Class Honours) as well as a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

In 2010 he was named the South Australian Junior Doctor of the Year for his contribution to teaching, his extensive research portfolio and his voluntary work with St John Ambulance.

Considered the Australian equivalent of the Rhodes Scholarship in the UK and the Fulbright Scholarship in the US, the General Sir John Monash Scholarship will fund Dr Cundy's PhD at the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery.

"Robotic surgery technology offers some of the most innovative and exciting opportunities in modern surgery," Dr Cundy said. "I'm looking forward to exploring new concepts in computer-assisted surgery, which bring the united benefits of biomedical engineering, imaging and information technologies into the operating theatre to allow surgeons to go beyond what is possible in terms of human performance."

"The robotic system acts as an extension of the surgeon's eyes and hands, enabling highly manoeuvrable and precise levels of dexterity," Dr Cundy said.

Since the first robotic surgical system was introduced in Australia in 2004, its use has blossomed across surgical specialties and the number of patients undergoing robotic-assisted procedures continues to expand.

Worldwide, robotic surgical techniques are established in urology, gynaecology, cardiac and general surgery.

Imperial College, where Dr Cundy will be based for his PhD studies, pioneered the development of laparoscopic 'keyhole' surgery and subsequently was the first centre in the world to explore the clinical application of robotic surgery in the 1980s.

"This leading research paved the way for the evolving era of minimally invasive surgery, which delivers better operative results, quicker recovery times and improved long-term outcomes in selected settings," Dr Cundy said.

Aside from his work commitments, Dr Cundy is also a Clinical Associate Lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of Adelaide.

He will start his PhD in London this October. Dr Cundy is one of eight 2011 Monash scholars selected in Australia from a field of approximately 200 applicants.


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