Thursday 28 November 17:30 - 18:30

Lecture theatre G16
Sir Alexander Fleming Building
Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus

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Surgery, statistics and science

Science & Technology

The lecture is free to attend and open to all, but registration is required in advance.

A drinks reception will follow the lecture at 18.30 in the Sir Alexander Fleming Building Foyer


Mathematics is the fundamental basis of clinical decision making. In medicine, every day of the working life of a doctor is spent evaluating the probability of a diagnosis, estimating benefit of treatment, calculating the risk of harm, and predicting prognosis. As a doctors’ careers progress, clinical decisions are less reliant on textbooks and more on acquisition and synthesis of published evidence (evidence based medicine).

For many doctors, statistics was either not taught or presented from a pure mathematics perspective obscuring the link to medicine. As a result, many excellent clinicians do not recognise the importance of statistics in their clinical practice and have limited ability to evaluate the medical literature. Without a strong foundation, they will struggle to effectively discuss management options and involve patients in clinical decisions in a fast-paced world where applied statistics, coding and artificial intelligence becomes the norm.

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Lim will share how mathematics transformed his career from bewildered medical student to international clinical opinion leader. He will discuss difficulties doctors experience in making clinical decisions and the challenges they face in the interpretation and uptake of new medical information. He will provide views on the limitations of conventional (frequentist) statistics in medicine and the increasing role of artificial intelligence.


Eric Lim is a Professor of Thoracic Surgery at Imperial College London, a pioneer and specialist in minimally invasive (single-port) thoracic surgery. He graduated from Sheffield University, and completed a higher degree in Medicine and a Masters in Medical Statistics. His higher surgical training was undertaken at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge and the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

He authored two award winning textbooks on cross-sectional (differential diagnosis) and longitudinal learning (medicine and surgery) for undergraduate medicine and led multiple national and international guidelines for postgraduate thoracic cancer management.

His clinical research focuses on trials of surgical interventions to change the practice of surgery and he leads thoracic surgery research nationally through NIHR funded surgical trials (VIOLET and MARS 2). His translational research focuses on early cancer diagnosis with blood based biomarkers to improve the quality and length of life of patients with pre-clinical cancer.

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