Congratulations to the BCS/Heart Research UK Fellowship Award Winners

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The 2024 BCS/Heart Research UK Fellowships have been awarded to Dr Eldilla Rizal, a Consultant Paediatric Intensivist at East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre (EMCHC), University Hospitals of Leicester, and Dr Debbie Falconer, a Research Fellow and PhD candidate at University College London.

The Fellowships enable one team and one individual doctor to undertake a short international study visit to learn new knowledge, skills and techniques that they will share with colleagues on return to the UK.

Team Award

Dr Eldilla Rizal won the team award and will be taking colleagues to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the US to observe their cardiac arrest prevention program, under the supervision of Professor David Cooper, Medical Director of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and Professor of Pediatrics.

Dr Rizal’s team want to understand how the US hospital creates high reliability teams and enables efficient and safe multi/inter disciplinary decision-making processes. The team will also learn the most valuable outcome measures for peri-operative morbidity and mortality. On returning to the UK, they plan to implement a tailored version of the US program, leading to improved patient outcomes, reduced length of hospital stays, and an improvement in quality of care for children and families.

Dr Rizal said:
‘I am ecstatic and truly humbled to be awarded the fellowship on behalf of our team. It is a fantastic opportunity for our team to visit one of the world's leading children's heart centres in Cincinnati - to experience a world-class multi-disciplinary cardiac arrest prevention programme in situ. We look forward to bringing back elements of the programme to benefit children and families in the East Midlands. We aim to go in March 2024 pending necessary administrative processes.’

Individual Award

Dr Debbie Falconer won the individual award and will be travelling to the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Australia to expand her knowledge of CMR-based diagnosis and management of ICC, under the supervision of Professor Martin Ugander, Professor of Cardiology and Consultant Cardiologist.

Specifically, Dr Falconer will be studying the optimal CMR sequences for non-invasive diagnosis of inherited cardiac disease, understanding the latest CMR-insights that can aid risk stratification and guide management in cardiomyopathies, and exploring the CMR presentations and severity of rare conditions including Fabry’s disease. On return to the UK, Dr Falconer intends to use the advanced sequencing and mapping techniques she will experience (including blood-corrected T1 mapping in Fabry’s, and CMR biomarkers associated with ventricular arrhythmia) in her own practice and research, bringing this knowledge to her affiliated imaging centre, the NHS and the vast number of patients affected by cardiomyopathy.

Dr Falconer said:
‘I was over the moon to hear the news I had won, and genuinely amazed as the standards are so high. I will be starting the fellowship in April 2024 and spending my time in Sydney learning the latest CMR techniques in diagnosing cardiomyopathy and rare cardiac diseases.’
Both award winners also stressed the importance and benefits of establishing ongoing collaborative research links with their hosts, to spread best practice across the world. Both visits are expected to take place in Spring 2024. As part of the Award, Dr Rizal and Dr Falconer will provide a full report of their visit and present their experiences at the BCS Annual Conference in Manchester in June 2024.

Kate Bratt Farrar, Chief Executive at Heart Research UK, said: “We are pleased to fund these BCS Fellowships which will continue to support this groundbreaking medical training. It is amazing to see the awards being given to these exciting projects, which will enable best practice to be shared as widely as possible. We look forward to seeing the outcomes and learnings from this year’s cohort.”