Surgeon scientist receives prestigious Royal College of Surgeons award

A headshot of Prof Mukherjee

Professor Rajarshi (Rishi) Mukherjee has been awarded the prestigious Hunterian Professorship for 2024 by the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Hunterian Professors are invited to give the annual Hunterian Lecture on their field of specialism and chosen research. Professor Mukherjee, a Senior Clinical Fellow at the University and a Consultant Surgeon at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded his Professorship in recognition of his ongoing research into new tests and treatments for acute pancreatitis.

Professor Mukherjee said: “Being awarded the Hunterian Professorship is the greatest honour and privilege of my life. As a surgeon scientist I’ve always looked to famous surgeons both past and present such as Paget, Moynihan, Ara Darzi and my own research mentor, Robert Sutton, and have considered them the ultimate benchmark for the level of surgical research and innovation I aspire to. The award is welcome reassurance that I remain on the right track with an overarching burning desire to improve the lives of patients who continue suffering worldwide.

“As a medical student it always struck me that Acute Pancreatitis was one of the biggest mysteries and tragedies in modern medicine, with no targeted drug treatments after hundreds of years of research and ruining the lives of so many. This inquisitiveness led me on the voyage of discovery that I embarked on fifteen years ago with the Liverpool Pancreatitis Research Group in an attempt to understand the mechanisms of acute pancreatitis and develop new tests and treatments for it. Thankfully, through research and innovation we are now tantalisingly close and the horizon is in sight. Achieving the Hunterian Professorship wouldn’t be possible without the support of my family, mentors, colleagues and patients, to all of whom I am eternally grateful.”

The Hunterian Professorship is named after the pioneering surgeon scientist John Hunter, and has been awarded annually by the Royal College of Surgeons of England since 1810. The Hunterian Lecture is awarded in recognition of a significant contribution to surgical, an aesthetic, or dental science. The work of candidates is carefully considered by an expert committee set up by Council, and this committee may well call upon experts in particular fields to referee specialist applications.

The Hunterian Professorship is considered to be one of the proudest traditional honours of the college bestowed to surgeons of eminence who have richly contributed to the field of surgery by original research or innovations. Since 1810, some of the most famous names in British surgery have given a Hunterian Lecture including Abernethy, Brodie, Treves, Spencer Wells, Bland Sutton, Trotter, James Paget, John Percival Pott, Moynihan, and Ara Darzi.

Professor Mukherjee has also recently been awarded the Dr Ronald Finn Fellowship by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation trust to continue his ongoing research and further broaden his future research focus to explore the overlapping role mitochondrial injury has to play in both worsening the severity of acute pancreatitis and poor biological ageing.