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University of Limerick research features in first edition of Gray’s Surgical Anatomy

Pictured at the library in the Clinical Education and Research Centre, UHL, were Dara Walsh, Prof John Calvin Coffey and UL GEMS third year medical students Olwyn Conlon, Ross Book and Sophie Sabherwal
Mon, 16 Dec 2019

A pioneering surgeon and medical illustrator based at University of Limerick are among the contributors to the first edition of Gray’s Surgical Anatomy.

Prof John Calvin Coffey, Foundation Chair of Surgery, Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick and Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, UL Hospitals Group, made global headlines in late 2016 when he led a team of researchers in reclassifying part of the human digestive system known as the mesentery as a new organ.

Their work has led to updates in some of the world’s most prestigious medical textbooks, including Gray’s Anatomy.

Gray’s Surgical Anatomy (2019) includes a chapter on the Peritoneum, Mesentery and Peritoneal Cavity. Listed with Prof Coffey as a contributor is Dara Walsh, a medical illustrator from the University of Limerick, who is also based at University Hospital Limerick. 

Mr Walsh’s work has featured in such prestigious journals as The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology and now also, Gray’s Surgical Anatomy. 

The impact of Prof Coffey’s research is ground-breaking.

He stated: “Identifying the mesentery as an organ clarifies what we are as humans and how we are made up. It re-orientates human biology in general, and clinical practice in particular.  Dara Walsh’s illustrations have made a once complex field easy to understand and study for all.”

Better understanding of the mesentery and its functions has already led to improvements in surgery with fewer complications, speedier recovery for patients and reduced costs to healthcare providers.