Chris O'Brien Travelling Fellowship

The American Head and Neck Society and the Australian and New Zealand Head & Neck Cancer Society are pleased to announce the Chris O’Brien Travelling Fellowship, 2020

The Councils of the American Head and Neck Society and the Australian and New Zealand Head & Neck Cancer Society announce the Chris O’Brien Travelling Fellowship

The purpose of this fellowship is to encourage international exchange of information concerning the science, practice, and education in head and neck oncology and to establish professional and academic collaborations and friendships.

Basic Requirements
The Fellowship will be awarded in 2020, and the scholar will attend the Annual Meeting of American Head and Neck Society (AHNS).

The scholarship is available to members in good standing of the Australian and New Zealand Head & Neck Cancer Society in any of the specialties who meet the following requirements:

  • Has a major interest and accomplishment in clinic or basic sciences related to head and neck surgery
  • Actively engaged in the practice of Head and Neck Surgery with a commitment to research and teaching
  • Has no more than 10 years experience in their practice
  • Is enthusiastic, personable, and posses good communication skills
  • For purposes of the 2020 application, the candidate will travel to the United States and Canada and  must therefore be a resident of Australia or New Zealand

The Fellow is required to spend a minimum of two or three weeks in the United States.

  • To attend and participate in the annual scientific meeting of  the Tenth International Head and Neck Cancer Conference
  • To participate in the formal convocation ceremony of the meeting
  • To attend and present an oral presentation
  • To visit at least two medical centres in the United States before or after the meetings to lecture and to share clinical and scientific expertise with the local multidisciplinary head and neck cancer teams

The academic and geographic aspects of the itinerary will be finalized in consultation with and by mutual agreement between the Fellow and the President or designated representative of the American Head and Neck Society and the Australian and New Zealand Head & Neck Cancer Society.  The choice of head and neck oncologic centres is to be visited depends to some extent on the special interest and expertise of the Fellow and his or her previously established professional contacts with centres the United States.

His or her spouse is welcome to accompany the successful applicant.  There will be many opportunities for social interaction, as well as these professional activities.  

Financial Support
The American Head and Neck Society and the Australian and New Zealand Head & Neck Cancer Society will provide the sum of $10,000 U.S. to the successful applicant, who will also be exempted from registration fees for the meetings.  He/She must meet all travel and living expenses. The societies’ representatives will meet with the Fellow about the centres to be visited in the United States, the local arrangements for each centre, and other advice and recommendations about travel schedules. The Fellow is to make his/her own travel arrangements in North America, as this makes available to him/her reduced fares and travel packages for travel.

The Councils of the American Head and Neck Society and the Australian and New Zealand Head & Neck Cancer Society will select the Fellow after review and evaluation of the final applications.  The 2020 candidate will be chosen from Australia or New Zealand.  A personal interview may be requested prior to the final selection.  

imageProfessor Christopher O’Brien

Christopher O’Brien, A.O. graduated in Medicine from the University of Sydney in 1976 and then completed his residency and surgical training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH). He then completed clinical fellowships in head and neck surgery and oncology in England and the United States and, in 1987, returned to Australia, where he joined the staff of RPAH as a consultant head and neck surgeon. There he contributed to the expansion of the clinical service, making it one of the largest in the country.  He also established a comprehensive head and neck database, a basic research program and an international clinical fellowship program under the umbrella of the Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute, which he founded in 2002.

Professor O’Brien had two postgraduate degrees from the University of Sydney-a Master of Surgery for his basic research in microvascular surgery and a Doctorate in Medicine for his work on the management of metastatic cancer in the neck.

He had authored more than 100 scientific papers and 17 book chapters and had been honoured with invitations to many countries and institutions as a Visiting Professor and guest lecturer, including invitations to give numerous prestigious named lectures: the Hayes Martin Lecture in Washington in 2004, the Eugene Myers International Lecture in Los Angeles in 2005, the Inaugural Jatin P. Shah Lecture in Prague in 2006, and the Semon Lecture in London in 2006. He was awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in recognition of his contribution to the training of young British Surgeons.

In 1988, Profession O’Brien founded the Australian and New Zealand Head and Neck Society, a multidisciplinary society comprising surgeons of all disciplines, radiation and medical oncologists, and allied health professionals. He was President of the Society in 2004. The Society is flourishing and held its 12th Annual Scientific Meeting in 2010. Professor O’Brien was also a member of the American Head and Neck Society and was invited to join the Council in 2005.

In 2003, Professor O’Brien became Director of the Sydney Cancer Centre, based at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney, whilst maintaining all of his clinical, teaching, and research responsibilities.  He had developed a proposal to transform the Sydney Cancer Centre into a $150 million world class comprehensive cancer centre, and that project is moving forward with great momentum, named as The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Centre at RPA.

Chris O’Brien was widely known to the people of Australia for his many appearances over the last 12 years on the award winning reality television program RPA, and on Australia Day 2005 he was awarded Member  of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to medicine. He was a devoted husband and father with many interests, including skiing, reading and playing guitar.

Unfortunately, in November 2006, Professor O’Brien was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and despite receiving treatment, passed away in June 2009. Christopher O’Brien was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia posthumously "For continued service to medicine and to the community through advocacy and fundraising roles for the development of integrated care and clinical research facilities for people with cancer, particularly the establishment of the Lifehouse Centre at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital". 

Application Process

Applications for the travelling fellowship may be obtained from the American Head and Neck Society’s website at, the Australian and New Zealand Head & Neck Cancer Society’s website at, or by writing to the secretary of the respective societies. An application form is also attached to this announcement.

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is  to be advised. The successful candidate and an alternate will be selected and notified by (date to be advised).

Application for the American Head and Neck Society-Australian and New Zealand Head & Neck Society Chris O’Brien Travelling Fellowship for the year 2020.

A current (no more than 3 months old), detailed curriculum vitae, signed and dated by the applicant and including medical school, postdoctoral education, and past hospital appointments, plus a complete bibliography and record of meeting presentations are to be submitted with this application. All information is to be typewritten on A4 plain white paper. Applicants are to submit, in addition, an essay of no more than one page, stating how, in their opinion, they fulfill the requirements and their reasons for applying for the fellowship. Applicants are requested to type their names in the upper left hand corner of the essay.