Travelling Fellowships Blogs

Research fellow Javiera Martinez-Gutierrez recently visited the UK from Australia on a travelling fellowship to attend two CanTest events, as well as collaborating with UK-based research teams. Hear about the trip in her own words: I am an academic GP and started my appointment as a cancer research fellow in the Department of General Practice at the University of Melbourne under Prof. Jon Emery’s supervision in March 2020.  The traveling fellowship gave me the opportunity to attend the CanTest Primary Care Cancer Detection Summit, the 5th CanTest School, and visit colleagues across the UK to discuss our research.

Dr Javiera Martinez-Gutierrez, Melbourne – UK


Thanks to a CanTest Travelling Fellowship, I was able to go abroad for a research stay at Melbourne University to visit Professor Jon Emery and his team. This was a unique opportunity to build a network across borders and to create international collaborations with specialized expertise within my field of research.

Visiting Professor Emery and his team gave me the opportunity to discuss and explore my research with an international perspective and to gain new knowledge and ideas about improving early cancer diagnosis in Primary Care. Moreover, it was rewarding to experience a different research environment; it gave me scientific and cultural experiences that are valuable for my project and career.

Dr Astrid Boennelykke, Aarhus – University of Melbourne 2020


I’ve long been interested in what we can learn from research in other countries which share similar challenges in improving cancer outcomes. While attending the CanTest International School in cancer detection I was lucky to meet colleagues from the United States, including Elizabeth Sarma from the National Cancer Institute and Ashley Meyer from the Baylor College of Medicine & Veterans’ Administration.  The generous award of a CanTest Travel Fellowship allowed me to call on these contacts to arrange a visit to the United States to learn about cancer detection and health care in America.

Dr Stephen Bradley, Leeds – National Cancer Institute, Washington DC 2019


In August 2019 I attended the 20th Asia-Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference. The meeting brought together world leaders in prostate cancer care and research under the theme of ‘Together in discovery and care’. Numerous aspects of care for men with prostate cancer were debated, with the current challenges around accurate diagnosis a common topic. This included sharing the results of the first study from my CanTest funded PhD, assessing patient centred outcomes from diagnostic tests for prostate cancer.

Dr Sam Merriel, Exeter – Australian Prostate Centre, Melbourne 2019


A CanTest Travelling Fellowship gave me the opportunity to visit Professor Niek de Wit and his team at the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care in Utrecht in the Netherlands, for a month over the summer, to work on early cancer diagnostics. The stay was initiated in collaboration with CanTest as part of the PhD degree programme at the Graduate School of Health at Aarhus University in Denmark, where I am currently enrolled. All PhD students are recommended to go abroad for a research stay to benefit from the expertise in a different research environment.

Nanna Holt Jessen, Aarhus – University Medical Centre, Utrecht 2019


To take my recent  research on co-morbidities and cancer  further, I recently visited the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care at the University Medical Center, Utrecht, thanks to a CanTest Travelling Fellowship. It was a fantastic opportunity to exchange ideas with international experts on chronic conditions and cancer diagnosis in primary care. Through in-depth discussions with various researchers and clinicians, particularly Professor Niek de Wit and Dr Charles Helsper (pictured), we explored how we can use primary care and hospital data linked to cancer registration data for examining the timely diagnosis of cancer, diagnostic pathways and cancer outcomes in patients with chronic conditions.

Dr Cristina Renzi, UCL – University Medical Center, Utrecht 2019


Although one could argue that there are great differences in how primary care is structured and work in the UK and Sweden, our countries have one main thing in common – the patients. After finishing my PhD on how to identify earlier cancer patients in primary care and developing a risk assessment tool (RAT) for non-metastasized colorectal cancer, I thought it would be a piece of cake to implement the tool into Swedish primary care. It wasn’t and the tool is still not implemented. So I was very grateful to receive a CanTest Travelling Fellowship to learn more about the work of Professor Willie Hamilton’s CanTest team in Exeter…

Dr Marcela Ewing, Sweden – University of Exeter, University of Cambridge 2019


Thanks to CanTest Travelling Fellowship, I was able to attend the 11th Cancer and Primary Care Research International Network (Ca-PRI) conference in Toronto in May 2019. This meeting brings together multidisciplinary researchers in primary care cancer from across the globe. Aside from the high-quality research presented, it is also a fantastic opportunity to catch up with international colleagues and build collaborations across the world. During the conference, I presented a study we are carrying out at the University of Exeter evaluating faecal immunochemical tests (FITs) in symptomatic primary care patients…

Dr Sarah Bailey, Exeter – Ca-PRI conference, Canada 2019


Ultrasound has been described as the stethoscope of the future. Portable units are becoming more affordable and basic training is now included in the undergraduate medical curriculum. This raises the question of whether GPs could use ultrasound during consultations to help them rule in or rule out some types of cancer. Denmark and Norway are leading the way in researching ultrasound in primary care. Therefore, sponsored by a CanTest Travelling Fellowship, I travelled to Aalborg, Denmark, to learn more…

Dr Erica di Martino, Leeds – 21st Nordic Congress of General Practice 2019


The challenges faced by GPs and primary care clinicians within the NHS across the cancer continuum from prevention and early diagnosis to survivorship and end of life care are not unique to the UK. Cancer affects people from all walks of life around the globe. In Australia, the types of cancers most often diagnosed are similar to that of the UK, with prostate cancer by far having the highest incidence of all cancer types amongst men in both countries…

Dr Sam Merriel, Exeter – University of Melbourne 2019


CanTest travelling fellowships give opportunities for primary care cancer researchers to embed themselves in a primary care research unit at another institution to learn and build networks and collaborations. Its gives a unique insight into how other research groups pursue their goals of improving cancer outcomes for primary care patients through research and education, and access to methodologists and experts in the field. I was fortunate enough to receive a CanTest travelling fellowship and spend a week with Dr Fiona Walter and her Cancer Group, within the Primary Care Unit of the University of Cambridge…

Dr Sam Merriel, Exeter – University of Cambridge 2019


Every year in the UK alone 4000 women die from ovarian cancer, a disease which is usually caught late. While tests for ovarian cancer are available in primary care our understanding of how these tests are used and how good they actually are at picking up cancer is limited. The use of databases of routinely collected data, such as GP requested blood and imaging test results, could be key in helping us understand how ovarian cancer is currently detected and how we might pick up more cancers earlier…

Dr Garth Funston, Cambridge – University of Exeter 2018



Having recently started my PhD, I was eager to learn more about cutting edge ovarian cancer research and also about the approaches to detection taken by other countries. Through the CanTest Travelling Fellowship, I was given the exciting opportunity to spend time with Prof Matthew Thompson at the University of Washington – a leading centre for both primary care and ovarian cancer detection research. I worked closely with Prof Thompson and his colleagues to explore how routinely collected data, such as imaging test results, can be used to investigate the use and effectiveness of ovarian cancer tests in primary care…

Dr Garth Funston, Cambridge – University of Washington 2018