Professorial Fellow in Surgery

Peter McCulloch

  • I’m a Scottish surgeon engaged in a slow Southward migration – from Aberdeen to Glasgow, to Liverpool, and 15 years ago to Oxford.

  • My research focuses on two questions: 1) How can we make surgery safer? 2) How can we conduct valid studies to find out how good (or bad) it is?

  • I am deeply concerned about climate change and engaged in activity to stimulate an urgent and sane response to it.

Peter McCulloch


I offer bedside teaching and exam preparation revision sessions for clinical students, as part of a network of clinical teachers. I developed the MSc course in surgical science and practice, which is intended to prepare senior surgical trainees for Consultant practice, and still teach on it. I supervise DPhil, MD and MSc students for dissertations and theses.


My specialist field is cancer surgery, particularly stomach and oesophageal cancer. My experience of conducting clinical research in this field convinced me that we need new approaches to studying surgery properly. Its inherent complexity makes it more difficult to test than medications, and as a result the evidence base for many operations is weak. I have developed an international group, the IDEAL Collaboration, which proposes and studies new methods for evaluating surgery and other invasive and complex treatments.

My other research group is focused on improving the safety and reliability of surgery. Mistakes and adverse events in surgery are much more often due to poor systems of work, weak teamwork, unhelpful cultural attitudes and communication errors than lack of technical competence. My group uses Ergonomics and Human Factors science to design and test interventions to address these issues and make the surgical process safer for patients.

Enthusiasm bias with novel robotic technology for surgery

Selected Publications

Morgan L., Benson D., McCulloch P., ‘Will human factors restore faith in the GMC?’, BMJ 364 (2019), l1037

McCulloch P., Feinberg J., Philippou Y., Kolias A., Kehoe S. et al., ‘Progress in clinical research in surgery and IDEAL’, Lancet 392 (2018), 88-94

McCulloch P., Morgan L., New S., Catchpole K., Roberston E., Hadi M., Pickering S., Collins G., Griffin D., ‘Combining Systems and Teamwork Approaches to Enhance the Effectiveness of Safety Improvements Interventions in Surgery: The Safer Delivery of Surgical Services (S3) Program’, Ann Surg 265 (2017), 90-96

Sedrakyan A., Campbell B., Merino J., Kuntz R., Hirst A., McCulloch P., ‘IDEAL-D: a rational framework for evaluating and regulating the use of medical devices’, BMJ 353 (2016), i2372

McCulloch et al., ‘No surgical innovation without evaluation: the IDEAL recommendations’, Lancet 374 (2009), 1105-1112

Professor McCulloch

No innovation without evaluation.