First surgical 'Nobel Prize' goes to Danish Professor

​​Professor Henrik Kehlet from Copenhagen University Hospital - Rigshospitalet​ recei​ves a new, prestigious award ​in surgery for his lifelong work on patient care and Enhanced Recovery After Surgery(ERAS).


Photo: Professor Henrik Kehlet was selected from more than 70 nominees worldwide through a selection process similar to that of the Nobel Prize.

A group of international experts has selected Professor Henrik Kehlet as the first recipient of the new BJS Society Award in surgery.

Professor Henrik Kehlet, from the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Copenhagen and the Unit of Surgical Pathophysiology at Copenhagen University Hospital - Rigshospitalet, receives the award for his lifelong work on patient care and "Enhanced Recovery After Surgery" (ERAS), which has revolutionized clinical practices in several surgical fields and improved outcomes for patients worldwide.

​He became a professor of surgery in Copenhagen in 1991 before being appointed as a professor of perioperative therapy in 2006, a position he still holds.

"It means a lot to me to receive this award. I have always believed in the importance of looking at why patients are in the hospital in the first place and then working backward, step by step, to investigate the many factors that can affect patients' outcomes and healing process," says Professor Henrik Kehlet.

The honor is given to individuals whose exceptional efforts have significantly influenced the development of improved patient care. The award comes with a prize of 100,000 euros, which is the largest monetary prize of its kind in the surgical field.

Henrik Kehlet was selected from more than 70 nominees worldwide through a selection process similar to that of the Nobel Prize.

The organization behind the new award is the BJS Society, which owns several major surgical journals and works to promote research and development across all surgical fields. The Chairman of the BJS Society, Professor Anders Bergenfelz, justifies the choice of Henrik Kehlet as follows:

"In the description of the BJS Society Award, it states that the recipient should represent a discovery, innovation, or scientific investigation within the field of surgery that has changed clinical practice with a profound impact on patient care. It is obvious that Professor Kehlet's outstanding work meets all these criteria," says Anders Bergenfelz.

​Used in all surgical societies

Henrik Kehlet's research interests have focused on a wide range of specialties, all revolving around ensuring that patients have a smooth surgical experience - including surgical pathophysiology, acute pain physiology, and treatment, as well as postoperative fatigue. Over the years, his efforts have coalesced into the concept of ERAS, which consists of a series of protocols aimed at minimizing pain and risk during surgery.

These protocols are based on evidence-based approaches to patient care that can be applied before, during, and after surgery - supporting healing by reducing the body's stress responses caused by the operation.

ERAS protocols not only yield better results and faster recovery for patients but also offer significant economic benefits to the healthcare system. Henrik Kehlet's concept is now widely accepted and implemented in all surgical societies, and with around 300 million surgical procedures performed globally each year, the impact of ERAS has been considerable.

Throughout his career, Henrik Kehlet has published more than 1,250 scientific articles and has given over 300 presentations at international scientific meetings.​​

Further information about the BJS award can be found here​

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