Lyn Thomas Medal Winners

The Lyn Thomas Impact Medal is awarded annually for the academic OR research which best demonstrates both novelty and real-world impact, backed up by evidence. Impact can be of many forms including societal, economic, cultural, entertainment, health related, political, quality of life, etc.

Citation for Lyn Thomas Impact Medal 2019

Sonya Crowe, University College London, Christina Pagel, University College London and Martin Utley, University College London

Paper:  "Improving services for children with congenital heart disease"

CORU has had an international reputation for impactful research in health OR for over 35 years.  The Unit’s ground-breaking work in paediatric cardiac surgery in the 1990s led to the creation of Variable Life Adjusted Display or VLAD charts, now widely used for monitoring risk-adjusted health outcomes. 

This award is made for a programme of research related to congenital heart disease.  These three projects are typical of CORU’s work.  They all involved rigorous, innovative OR; close collaboration with clinicians; and the effective use of data visualisation and user-friendly software tools to support NHS decision-makers.

  • In the first project, the team developed an Excel-based tool called PRAiS for monitoring 30-day outcomes after heart surgery. This is now used by all UK hospitals and is mandated by the Care Quality Commission.
  • In the second, they used a combination of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ OR methods to monitor longer-term outcomes, which informed NHS England’s priorities in providing services for these children.
  • In the third, most recent project, they developed a tool to select and monitor complications after surgery that takes into account the views of both clinicians and parents.

This research has had significant impact on the lives of children with congenital heart disease, as well on their families and the growing population of adults with the condition, now that more children are surviving into adulthood.  It is hard to imagine more worthy inaugural winners of this award, named in honour of Professor Lyn Thomas, whose own research was so hugely impactful.

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Sonya Crowe, Martin Utley and Christina Pagel with The OR Society President, John Hopes