2024 | Volume 25 | Issue 3


Dr Cheyaanthan Haran awarded the Professor Philip Walker Scholarship by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), expressed gratitude and acknowledges that receiving the scholarship has raised his expectations of himself.

“I’m very grateful to have received this scholarship when I know there are so many other researchers and clinicians out there who are more deserving for the work they do for the vascular community,” Dr Haran says.

A Vascular Surgery Trainee from Aotearoa New Zealand, currently training in Australia, Dr Haran is using the scholarship to work on his project entitled ‘Presentation and management of Acute Aortic Syndrome (AAS) in Aotearoa New Zealand’.

Dr Haran's project originates from an early collaboration with Dr Manar Khashram and his vascular research lab at the Waikato vascular department, Hamilton, culminating in a master's project at the University of Auckland.

“Little is known about AAS across the world, and what we know locally is mainly based on small retrospective studies. So, we embarked on a nationwide project with a huge team across all major vascular centres and provincial centres to quantify the disease burden across New Zealand,” he says.

Despite its rarity in Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr Haran and his team found that AAS exhibits high fatality rates—particularly among men, Māori, and Pasifika patients. Although they share similar classical risk factors with other countries, the elevated AAS rates were concerning.

A a result, a genetic testing program in the Waikato region was created, focusing on patients with undiagnosed genetic conditions, connective tissue disorders, and non-syndromic conditions. Among the local population, researchers found an alarming number of their patients have various pathological or variants of uncertain significance genes that might predispose them to AAS.

With this project, Dr Haran hopes to cater to each patient's needs by honing on specific risk factors and features. The aim is to use precision medicine so that specific management options can be offered to ensure positive aortic remodelling and improved patient outcomes.

At medical school, Dr Haran initially aimed for paediatrics but found a passion for various specialities during clinical placements. It wasn't until the final year that surgery became the clear choice.

“I realised surgery had everything I was after. I find surgical pathology and diseases fascinating, and that I can physically alter a patient's anatomy to make them instantly better off is very rewarding and satisfying. The best part of it is catching up with my patients in the clinic to see that they’re back to living their active lives with their loved ones,” Dr Haran says.

Another aspect that attracted him to vascular surgery is its diversity across the body, requiring comprehensive knowledge of anatomy and exposures.

“Vascular emergencies don’t choose the time or day they happen, so you’re always on your toes, ready to act swiftly. It’s a speciality embracing the 21st century as it pushes the frontiers of new technology and more minimally invasive approaches. Now more than ever, we’re doing unimaginable massive life-saving operations through tiny cuts, which has changed how and to whom we offer these operations,” he explains.

For Dr Haran the RACS scholarship program is “the friendliest body when it comes to supporting your research as they understand the significance, relevance, and impact of your work. So, there’s a mutual understanding when you apply”. He encourages others to apply.

When not working, Dr Haran enjoys outdoor activities. He typically mountain bikes or runs, but being in Port Macquarie this year, he is making the most of relaxing on the sunny eastern Australian coast. He loves watching Test cricket but guarantees he will continue supporting the Black Caps despite being on the other side of the Tasman.