How did you become involved in vascular surgery research?
In my first year of medical school, professor Wisselink gave a very inspiring lecture on aneurysms and robotic surgery. Afterwards, I walked up to him. From then on, I started to assist him with research projects. I helped him in the operation room by video recording robotic surgery procedures as well as assisting his PhD students with surgical techniques on animals. One day, he gave me the opportunity to write a case-report, which was quickly published. They then realized I had a talent for writing and decided to offer me a retrospective study on aneurysms, which was also immediately published. To really understand the underlying mechanism of aortic aneurysms, I had to perform animal studies and study the pathophysiology. There was no time to teach me any surgical techniques so I followed many courses. By following a microsurgical course for plastic surgeons, for example, I learned to perform juxtarenal aortic aneurysm repair on rats. My supervisors gave me the freedom to create my own research profile with my own study ideas. I encountered and tackled numerous problems. For example, I discovered that some rat species have an anatomical variation of the abdominal vasculature with the mesenteric artery below the renals. Ultimately, it all worked out very well and I really enjoyed it.
dr. Kak Khee Yung
Why where your interests rooted in (vascular) surgery?
I have always been interested in surgery. In secondary school, I liked the biology classes where we had to resect and study anatomy. In my first year of university, I became a student anatomy teacher. As soon as I saw the lectures on cardiovascular surgery, I was interested. I like vascular surgery because it is like dancing: it is very fine and very technical. I also like it because it is all-round: vascular operations can be performed anywhere where there are vessels and different operation techniques can be used.
Do you think that performing medical research is a requisite to become a good doctor?
Everyone needs to learn science. I think that a scientific background is important, since it helps you to read and interpret guidelines and scientific articles. A good doctor is aware of all the treatment options, their up- and downsides, and is able to fully inform a patient. I do not think, however, that doctors need to do a PhD or have to be innovative. It is more about scientific understanding.
You were recently at the annual VEITH symposium to talk about the MUST-trial. Can you explain what it is about?
The MUST-trial aims for more effective treatment of acute peripheral arterial occlusions. We treat patients with standard thrombolytic therapy in combination with microbubbles and ultrasound for the first hour. It is a very delicate and novel therapy. These microbubbles can carry medicine to endothelial cells that are targeted by ultrasound. In the MUST-trial we use their mechanical effect: if you let the bubble burst, it damages the thrombus and makes the thrombus more susceptible to thrombolytic treatment. We have included 16 patients so far and from our data we can already tell that time to reperfusion is shorter. We are expecting more promising results soon.
What is your advice to students reading this article?
Orientate at a young age and explore what you want to do. Try to find out what your strengths are. You do not have to be outstanding in research, if you are great at teaching. Try to figure out what kind of person you are. Are you more communicative, more scientific or are you a manager? Choose the field that you think you are outstanding in and then aim for things in your CV that show that passion. For example, participate in a commission to show that you are organizational. There are only a few things that you have to show on your CV that you are good at; it does not have to be research. Yet, research does often naturally follow passion. If you are passionate about organization, you will be more inclined to do research in that field. Sometimes people forget that research can be done in many fields. The most important thing is that you have to be passionate about what you do.
1984 Kak Khee Yeung born
2002-2010 Medical education VUmc
2004-2009 Research Student Vascular Surgery and Physiology
2009-2013 PhD Candidate (VUmc, thesis: Juxtarenal aortic aneurysms: aspects of treatment and reduction of postoperative complications)
2010-2015 Resident Surgery
2015-2017 Senior Resident Vascular Surgery
Sept-Dec 2017 Fellow Vascular Surgery (Chang Gung Memorial Hospital)
2012- currently Research Coordinator and Principal Investigator Vascular Surgery (VUmc)
2016- currently Council member European Society for Vascular Surgery EVST
2018- currently Vascular Surgeon (Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc and AMC, and Zaans Medisch Centrum)