Bolstering the next frontrunners and stimulating research in urology are the core objectives of the European Urological Scholarship Programme (EUSP). Through year-long scholarships, clinical visits, and fellowships, the EUSP encourages knowledge exchange and provides valuable experience to young, promising participants. These commendable goals parallel the enthusiasm and drive of renowned expert, Prof. Axel Merseburger (DE), who was recently appointed as the new EUSP Chair. He stated, “Knowing that we can help engage young doctors in urology is exhilarating. Through the EUSP, we can motivate and enable them to pursue their future careers in this field.”
Due to the emergence and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement of Prof. Merseburger’s new role was postponed to 2021. He said, “The pandemic may have delayed my appointment, but it gave me the opportunity to start the transition, a ‘soft-opening’ as you may call it, with Prof. Vincenzo Mirone who still led the EUSP at that time, and me learning from him.”
Vision and perspectives of the new EUSP Chair
Prof. Merseburger’s vision for the programme is built upon the following pillars:
“Through the EUSP, we aim to stimulate that new type of innovative clinical and experimental research. Digital innovation is reshaping the way we function. Robotics, augmented/virtual reality sensor technology, the Internet of Things, data information modelling systems, and other disruptive technologies transformed the healthcare industry, and will continue to do so. Novel ways of data collection and analysis are becoming more important in the development of new treatment options,” said Prof. Merseburger.
Cultivating long-term commitments
Prof. Merseburger stated that by creating long-term scholarship programmes and topic-based curricula, the EAU can further train young urologists in various fields of urology, leadership and research possibilities, medical IT and other areas.
Development of dedicated programmes for urological subspecialties is possible through the joint efforts with the Young Urologists Office, the European School of Urology (ESU), the Guidelines Office and the EAU Research Foundation (EAU RF). According to Prof. Merseburger, the current fellowship programmes area good start and can be enhanced by combining them with ESU courses, masterclasses, and the Guidelines Associates programme.
To foster engagement, Prof. Merseburger advised to give the scholars a podium to share their experiences, which in turn, could inspire medical students to become urologists, and mentor those groups. He added that building strong relations with national representatives of urological residents will help establish a solid platform that will aid in stimulating more research, and in consequence lead to further progress in urological science and medical care.
Plans and initiatives
When asked what he has in mind for the future, Prof. Merseburger mentioned the application of new EU funding possibilities (e.g. as Horizon Europe and EU4Health) for what strategic direction the EAU/EUSP should take. “As Chair of an EAU Office, I’m planning to propose research ideas that the Office and the Board believe should be some of the priorities considered by the EAU. These will include research proposals as collaborative projects with other Offices (e.g. the Young Academic Urologists, the ESU),” said Prof. Merseburger.
In terms of certification, accreditation or recognition of centres for open (onco or non-onco) surgery, Prof. Merseburger underlined the importance of encouraging institutes to apply for an EBU-EAU certification. Such institutes, that specialise in percutaneous nephrolithotomy, high-intensity focused ultrasound, radiofrequency ablation, and open surgery can be host centres for clinical visits and scholarships in the future.
Additionally, since the COVID-19 travel restrictions are still enforced in many countries, Prof. Merseburger encourages scholars to reach out to certified host centres in their home countries to continue their learning, gain experience and boost their knowledge.
One of the requirements in the application for EUSP one-year scholarship is submission of a project proposal. According to Prof. Merseburger, some reports lack a proper structure which make them difficult to review. “We are currently designing a format to guide applicants on how to successfully create a project proposal.”
Another notable aim of Prof. Merseburger is the integration of the EUSP and EAU RF clinical trials/ registries for knowledge sharing. This is to give EUSP scholars the opportunity to access ongoing EAU-supported projects and/or clinical trials.
“Opportunities abound and ambitions are high at the EUSP. I look forward to working with the EUSP team in the years to come,” concluded Prof. Merseburger.
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