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The EAU Hans Marberger Award: Kindling for my next pursuits

By Dr. Riccardo Campi
Unit of Urologic Robotic, Minimally-Invasive Surgery and Renal Transplantation
Careggi University Hospital (Florence, IT)

On 13 December 2022, I received an email from the EAU Central Office. It was the kind of email one immediately opens. It stated that my paper, “Robotic Versus Open Kidney Transplantation from Deceased Donors: A Prospective Observational Study” garnered the prestigious EAU Hans Marberger Award. It is given to the best European paper published on minimally invasive surgery in urology in honour of Prof. Hans Marberger’s pioneering achievements.

My paper centred on my team’s study, which is the first in the world to prospectively investigate the role of robotic surgery for kidney transplantation using grafts from deceased donors. The study provides the first preliminary evidence supporting the noninferiority of robotic kidney transplantation from deceased donors as compared with the gold standard open surgery in carefully selected recipients.

A deep sense of gratitude
On 10 March 2023 during the 38th Annual EAU Congress, Prof. Chris Chapple (GB) and Mr. Paolo Cantù (DE) of KARL STORZ SE & Co. KG handed me the award. I was overwhelmed with emotions. It was a huge honour. Receiving the award in Milan also meant a lot from a personal perspective: not only am I proud for being Italian, but my wife Bea and family could also come to see my awarding in person.

I felt a deep sense of gratitude for the EAU and the people who made this achievement possible. They inspired, supported, and kept believing in me. I tried my best to thank all of them in my speech during the opening ceremony.

An award to an individual is an award to a team. The study is the result of the collaboration among urologists, nephrologists, and other medical professionals involved in the kidney transplantation programme led by Prof. Sergio Serni (IT) at the Careggi University Hospital in Florence, as well as students, residents, and researchers who helped me collect and analyse patient data.

Kindling for more motivation
The EAU Hans Marberger Award supported my ambition to become a surgeon-scientist and inspired me to continue to work hard and maintain a resilient and flexible mindset. I strive to improve and contribute to advancements in urology in various scientific, clinical, and educational aspects. American author Simon Sinek once said, “Infinite-minded leaders understand that ‘best’ is not a permanent state; instead, they strive to be ‘better’. ‘Better’ suggests a journey of constant improvement and makes us feel like we are being invited to contribute our talents and energies to make progress in that journey.”

The EAU accolade also reinforced my passion for urology and kidney transplantation and reminded me that studies on unmet clinical needs have the potential to make meaningful contributions for patients and their families.

In pursuit of what’s next
My current and future priorities include:

  • Becoming a better, more experienced surgeon
    I am fortunate to work in a referral high-volume centre with many mentors who guide me.
  • Developing into a better scientist
    I strive to focus on unmet needs and high-quality research projects that may have meaningful impact on patients’ outcomes.
  • Advancing my knowledge and skills as an editor
    I aspire to contribute to the progress of urologic literature.
  • Improving my work-life balance
    I plan to spend more quality time with my family.

I hope that pursuing these goals will make me a better urologist and a better person in the future.

Choosing urology
Back in medical school, I have always been passionate about anatomy and surgery. I was particularly fascinated by how surgery could pragmatically treat patients by leveraging the beauty of human anatomy.

I find anatomic surgery striking. I also always appreciated that surgery is a complex task that can be divided into specific steps, and a fantastic mixture of intellectual reasoning and practical actions with the ultimate goal of treating a patient.

What I truly love about urology is that urologists treat diseases rather than just the organs. Throughout the disease journey (from prevention to treatment of advanced disease stages), urologists are the reference point for patients. The urologists integrate medical and surgical knowledge with the aim of providing the right treatment to the right patient. This philosophy accompanied me throughout my internship at the Department of Urology of Careggi University Hospital.

I am profoundly grateful to Prof. Sergio Serni (IT) and Prof. Marco Carini (IT), who inspired me to pursue a career in urology and mentored me during my residency. They offered me immense support and opportunities to appreciate the beauty of urology and its potential for continued advancements.

Other aspirations
I remember when I was in my senior year in high school, the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy organised an internship wherein students had the opportunity to meet professors from diverse disciplines (e.g. engineering, medicine, law, etc).

During this internship, students discovered their potential career paths and skills through specific surveys and tests developed by psychologists. I clearly remember how I felt when I realised I wanted to pursue a career that deals with people rather than things.

The professor representing the school of medicine told the students that patients are like black boxes and that the mission of clinicians is to carefully and respectfully interpret them.  I appreciated this concept immensely. Since then, I have always believed that being a doctor is a tremendous privilege and responsibility as it is a profession that can change other people’s lives and one’s own.

A year later, I had to take the highly competitive national exam to enter medical school. Back then I had no doubts about what I wanted to do professionally, but I was afraid of the possibility of losing the opportunity to become a doctor. While waiting for the results, I took the exam to enter a School of Physics.

Credos when facing challenges
Work challenges can include the complexity of the profession, the potential lack of facilities valuing surgeons’ wellness, the stress related to adverse events, and time management. In my practice, I have four closely interconnected credos:

  1. Believe in yourself
    Work hard with a humble mindset, know your limits, and try to bring the best out of yourself.
  2. Learn from the very best
    Have the highest quality reference of standards for your practice as a surgeon, clinician, and scientist, and do not accept compromises with yourself to change this attitude.
  3. Believe in the power of the team
    Be truly honest and transparent when collaborating with your team members. This improves the quality of work that your team produces.
  1. Last but not least, the patient always comes first
    One must not forget this ultimate aim despite potential competing interests and ambitions

Enjoying leisure time
I love spending time with my wife, my family, my close friends, and my dog. I am also passionate about photography because it gives me the opportunity to preserve memories. I love travelling as I believe it gives opportunities to discover the world and one’s self. I also go cycling/trekking when I can, and I plan to pick up playing tennis again.

When it comes to movies, my (and my dad’s) favourite is “Once Upon a Time in America” which was directed by Sergio Leone and based on Harry Grey’s novel “The Hoods”. The film explores childhood friendships, betrayal, broken relationships, and love. The plot, dialogues, and music by Ennio Morricone are astonishing.

Although I enjoy reading essays and books on psychology, leadership, and mindfulness nowadays, “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien is still one of my favourite novels as it narrates the timeless fight between good and evil, and highlights the power of love and friendship as weapons in ensuring a future for the peoples of Middle-earth.

About the upcoming EAU24 awards
The applications for the EAU24 awards will close on 1 November 2023 (23:59 CET). You are encouraged to submit your applications to any of the following awards mentioned below. For more information and instructions on applying, please click the links.

You can also contact your national society and ask for an endorsement letter in order to qualify for the coveted EAU Crystal Matula Award.

Leave your mark and make an impact in urology. Apply now!