Consultant Urological Surgeon
Bhaskar Somani is a Professor of Urology and Consultant Urological Surgeon at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) and holder of a Research Leaders Programme (RLP) fellowship.
His main research interest currently is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve care for patients undergoing surgery on their kidneys, ureters, bladder or prostate. He is also involved with outcome research relating to urinary tract infections and minimally invasive endourological procedures.
A long history of doing research
Bhaskar been involved in research for almost two decades. He began his career as a junior doctor in Wales, then west midlands, then moved to east of Scotland to do his urology training.
He arrived at UHS as a consultant around ten years ago and has since published over 400 research papers. These have covered a wide range of topics, including AI, urinary tract infections, renal, prostate and bladder cancer and minimally invasive urology surgery. Yet he has never had any protected time for this research work.
“I suppose one of the downsides of being a full-time clinician is that, although I’ve mentioned lots of research, it’s all happened in my time,” he explains. “There’s no protected time.”
Focus on developing apps with AI
Bhaskar’s focus for his RLP fellowship will be on developing apps that use AI to help clinicians improve patient care and helping patients with recurrent Urinary tract infections.
“I’m very keen on AI, and looking at aspects of improving the patient pathway, patient safety and surgical outcomes,” he explains. “We are working on all those areas, with the ultimate aim of developing smart apps that have AI built into them.”
The idea is that clinicians will be able to type in details about the patient and their condition, and then the app will give them useful information such as the patient’s risk of complications. Bhaskar hopes this will inform their decisions and help to improve patient outcomes.
While Bhaskar has extensive experience doing research, he has not had any dedicated time for it. He hopes the RLP fellowship will give him this time to not only do more research, but also to apply for bigger grants.
Ultimately, he says, this will benefit both patients and the Trust, as it means UHS will be the lead site. This means the research will be based at UHS, instead of patients being recruited for trials at other sites.
“I think this is one of the most exciting things that has happened since I’ve joined Southampton,” he says, “because for people who are driven by research, but also enjoy clinical work, there’s nothing better than having a little bit of time which is protected for you to actually do it. Otherwise, the wish and the will is there, but the time just isn’t.”