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Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellowships – boosting careers, changing lives

Every year the RSM awards the prestigious Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellowship. With awards of up to £15,000, the fellowships support senior registrars and early career consultants to undertake additional specialist training overseas.

A while back, we caught up with three former Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellows who described how winning a fellowship has helped their work and career development.

Learning 3D technology applications in orthognathic and craniofacial reconstruction

In 2019, craniofacial and paediatric plastic surgeon Juling Ong was part of the surgical team for two-year old sisters Safa and Marwa Ullah, from Charsadda in Pakistan, who underwent three major operations to separate their heads at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

An Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellow in 2014, Mr Ong went to Austin, Texas to train for a year in craniofacial and paediatric plastic surgery, working at Dell Children’s Medical Centre and Brackenridge Medical Centre, both level 1 trauma centres. There he gained significant experience in facial trauma as well as orthognathic surgery and the management of congenital craniofacial deformity.

He also became skilled in 3D technology and its applications in orthognathic and craniofacial reconstruction and subsequently developed an in-house 3D service at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. “3D technology played a significant part in the understanding of the unique anatomy and surgical planning in the separation of the craniopagus twins,” he explains.

Asked how winning an Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellowship helped develop his career, Mr Ong said: “In addition to a high-quality subspecialty training in craniofacial, cleft and paediatric surgery, the travelling fellowship made it possible for me to experience a difference health care system. This is particularly valuable in the management of rare conditions.”

Acquiring digital skills to deliver more effective care for patients

Dr Anatole Menon-Johansson was a specialist registrar in genito-urinary medicine in 2008 when he was awarded an Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellowship to study for a masters in Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

He says: “The support of the travelling fellowship allowed me to cross-register at the Harvard Business School for a course on managing medicine and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study biomedical computing. It was during this time that I developed an interest in using digital tools to deliver more effective healthcare."

Returning to the UK to complete his training, Dr Menon-Johansson subsequently secured a consultant post at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and in 2011 became the lead of the Sexual & Reproductive Health (SRH) department. “Over the decade, I brought in a number of digital tools to deliver more effective care for patients and worked with the department to create the first seven day a week SRH clinic in the United Kingdom.”

From 2019-2020 he was a Sloan & Legatum Fellow at MIT studying analytics, exploring novel diagnostic techniques and building up a range of entrepreneurial skills and tools to bring back to the UK to encourage the development of innovations for impact across the NHS. He is also focusing on scaling up his social enterprise to address sexually transmitted infection epidemics in the UK and abroad.

Rhinology and anterior skull base surgery in Vancouver

For Professor Carl Philpott, the Ellison-Cliffe Charitable Trust has marked two important steps in his career. The first was when he travelled to Vancouver in 2009 as an Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellow. Then in 2016 he was invited by the late Dr Carice Ellison-Cliffe to give the Ellison-Cliffe annual lecture with the title Smell and taste: The senses that man forgot.

Back in 2009 he went to Vancouver to undertake a fellowship in advanced rhinology and anterior skull base surgery, working in St Paul’s Hospital and False Creek Surgical Centre with some surgical cases undertaken at New Westminster Hospital and BC Children’s Hospital. “The travelling fellowship allowed me to bring back invaluable experiences to the UK,” he says. “I also acquired a lifelong friend and mentor in Prof. Amin Javer who trained me there.”

In 2017 he was awarded a chair at UEA as Professor of Rhinology and Olfactology and he is now the chief investigator of the MACRO trial which, as part of the NIHR funded MACRO Programme, is the largest trial to date into chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), a long-term sinus disease affecting 1 in 10 adults in the UK. “The trial includes endoscopic sinus surgery, thus utilising the skills I acquired in Vancouver” he says.

Apply for the 2021 Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellowship

Valued up to £15,000, the Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellowship is open to RSM Fellows who are of specialist registrar, lecturer grade or equivalent or who are consultants within three years of their first consultant appointment.

The award is designed to cover expenses for travel abroad to one or two centres, for a period of no less than six months, in pursuit of further study, research or clinical training.

Deadline for applications is Monday 4 October 2021.

Find out more and apply for the Fellowship.

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