Head & Neck Surgical Oncology Fellowship

Drs. Jonathan Irish & Kevin Higgins

General Description

The focus of the Fellowship is head and neck oncological extirpative surgery, reconstructive surgery with an emphasis on micro free tissue transfer and endocrine and salivary surgery. The Fellowship Program is tailored to the needs of the perspective fellows as well as the needs of their site of proposed practice. Sinai Health, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and the University Health Network (Toronto General Hospital/Princess Margaret Cancer Centre) are teaching hospitals within the University of Toronto health sciences complex. Over the past 15 years, the Department of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Toronto has developed a highly integrated multidisciplinary Head & Neck Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program incorporating these three campuses. The Toronto Western Hospital, where neurosurgical expertise is concentrated serves as the site for any surgery involving the skull base.

This program is recognized internationally for patient care, research, and education, principally involving the disciplines of radiation, medical and surgical oncology; the program interfaces with diagnostic imaging, pathology, dentistry, speech, nutrition, nursing, social work, psychiatry, and research scientists. The program provides well-balanced exposure to all areas including skull base surgery, microvascular surgery, endocrine surgery and innovative head and neck research.

Fellowship Type (Clinical %, Research %)

Although basic science and clinical research are a component of the program, there is no protected time for this as the emphasis of the fellowship is clinical; however there are opportunities in both of these arenas for research.

Fellowship Director(s)

Drs. Jonathan Irish & Kevin Higgins

Participating Faculty

Drs. Dale Brown, John de Almeida, Danny Enepekides, David Goldstein, Ralph Gilbert, Patrick Gullane, Christopher Yao, Kevin Higgins and Jonathan Irish.


  1. To acquire clinical and technical skills in managing patients with head and neck neoplasms.
  2. To acquire knowledge and research tools to understand prevailing paradigms regarding head and neck neoplasms.
  3. To acquire teaching tools in order to assume an academic instructional responsibility.

Principal Locations

Sinai Health, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University Health Network.

Duration of Fellowship

One year in duration with the option for a two-year program.

Number of Fellows Accepted Per Year

Six clinical positions (4 of these under the auspices of the Advanced Training Council of the American Head and Neck Society by way of its matching program; 2 candidates are accepted outside of the match)

One research position

Required Prior Residency Training

Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, General Surgery, Plastic Surgery

Foreign Graduate Eligibility Requirements

All clinical fellows require licensure by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), the body which regulates the practice of medicine in Ontario. A key requirement for the licensure of clinical fellows by the CPSO is that the candidate must be recognized as a medical specialist in the jurisdiction where the candidate has been practicing medicine prior to the clinical fellowship.

Detailed information about basic application requirements for clinical fellows is accessible through the Post MD Education Office website at http://pg.postmd.utoronto.ca/applicants/apply-for-fellowship-training/.

Additional Benefits (e.g. meetings, housing)

There is ample opportunity to attend local, national and international meetings and Departmental support will nurture fellows’ attendance at these forums.

On Call Responsibilities

The fellow is expected to act as a junior faculty member and provide backup call for the residents approximately one night or weekend in seven.

Case Mix

There is a prodigious volume of head and neck oncological surgery done at the University Health Network, Sinai Health and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where it is expected that the fellow will participate in many of these procedures. In addition, there are numerous academic rounds in which the fellow is expected to participate and present. There are a number of outpatient clinics specializing in oncological patients and again the fellow is expected to attend in these.

Typical Weekly Timetable

Variable according to assigned campus.

Duties and Responsibilities of Trainees

The program broadly encompasses a wide variety of neoplastic head & neck diagnoses. The major subsites include all head & neck mucosal malignancies. Other subsites include salivary glands, thyroid, complex head & neck skin malignancies, and head & neck sarcoma that are managed by the head & neck surgical group in collaboration with the respective radiation oncology and medical oncology site group members. During the one or two year fellowship program, the clinical rotations include the University Health Network, Sinai Health, and/or Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

The duties of the Head and Neck Oncology Fellow are as follows within the respective institutions:

  • Participate in outpatient clinics pertaining to the head & neck.
  • Participate in surgical procedures pertaining to the head & neck.
  • Completion of at least three clinical-oriented research projects that results in peer-reviewed publications. Opportunity is available for basic science projects. Support is available for project methodology and for travel associated with presentation.
  • Attend weekly interdisciplinary Tumor Board Rounds at The University Health Network, Sinai Health or Sunnybrook.
  • Present at least one Grand Rounds per year related to the Head and Neck Program and participate at all Tumour Board related rounds at the University Health Network, Sinai Health or Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
  • Present a seminar on a relevant topic the first Monday of each month—rotating with other fellows.

Application Deadline

May 1st of application year

Decision Deadline

June 15 of application year

Additional Features of the Fellowship

Many of our fellows are sponsored by academic institutions and have gone on to important academic portfolios.

As a condition of their medical educational licensure, clinical fellows must register with the University of Toronto’s Post MD Education Office.  An Orientation Handbook can be downloaded from the homepage of the Post MD Education Office’s website at http://pg.postmd.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/OrientationBooklet_WEB.pdf. The Handbook contains useful information for new fellows, including a timeline for the registration process.

How to Apply

Fellows are chosen thought the matching system of the American Head and Neck Society (check the Society’s website for eligibility criteria at:


After the match some fellows are chosen from applicants from those countries ineligible for the match.

Postgraduate training agreements are currently in place between the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and sponsoring agencies from a number of countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. Applications for fellowship training from citizens of these countries must reach the Post MD Education Office directly from the sponsoring agency. For details, please consult the Post MD Education Office website at http://pg.postmd.utoronto.ca/applicants/apply-for-fellowship-training/.

To All Applicants:
If you have also applied to the U.S match through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), please be advised that the University of Toronto is a participating institution and adheres to the match policy. The policy states that "Applicants who have matched to a program or have accepted a position during the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP), shall not apply for, discuss, interview for, or accept a concurrent year position in another program prior to the NRMP granting the requested waiver." More information is accessible at https://www.nrmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2022-MPA-Institutions-1.pdf

Current Fellow

  • 2023-24 Dr. Elliot Yuk-Gai Koo, Dr. Tiziana Mondello, Dr. Esmat Najjar, Dr. Alon Pener Tessler, Dr. Leba Michael Sarkis, Dr. Joaquin Ignacio Ulloa Suarez

Previous Fellows

  • 2022-23 Drs. Abdulrahman Alenazi, Michael Hajek, Shayanne Lajud Guerrero, Mohammed Mamdani, Esmat Najjar, Sharon Tzelnick, Joaquin Ignacio Ulloa Suarez, Dr. Alessandra Ruaro
  • 2021-22 Drs. Timothy Eviston, Leonardo Franz (Research), Mirko Manojlovic Kolarski, Susannah Orzell, Axel Sahovaler
  • 2020-21 Drs. Michael Au, Ilyes Berania, Michael Blasco, Donovan Eu, Wael Hasan (Research), Tommaso Gualtieri (Research)
  • 2019-20 Drs. Ashok Jethwa, Andrew Sewell, Konrado Deutsch, Wael Hasan, Stefano Taboni (Research)
  • 2018-19 Drs. Marco Ferrari (Research), Mohemmed Khan, Axel Sahovaler, Carissa Thomas, Felipe Cardemil, Catriona Douglas
  • 2017-18 Drs. Gian-Marco Busato, Felipe Cardemil, Sam Flatman, Ryan McSpadden, Wael Hassan, Peter Vosler
  • 2016-17 Drs. Jeffrey Blumberg, Mohammed Bu Abbas, Caitlin McMullen, Matthew Mifsud, Lenka Stankova, Han Zhang
  • 2015-16 Drs. Jonathan Berstein, Gilad Horowitz, Nidal Muhanna
  • 2014-15 Drs. Eric Arruda, Jon Chan, Daniel Rocke
  • 2013-14  Drs. Luk Czerwonka, Jonathan Bernstein, Andrew Foreman, Hussain Alsaffar, Samip Patel,
  • Nidal Muhanna, Paul Walker
  • 2012–13 Drs. Mathew Magarey, Dev Kamdar, Bradley Johnson
  • 2011–12 Drs. Teresa Kroeker, Stephen Haerle, Ben Dixon, Jason Rich, Stephanie Johnson, Babak Givi
  • 2010–11 Drs. Raefe Gundelach, Eric Bissada, Mark Smith, Yves Jacquet, Bret Miles, Marc Cohen
  • 2009–10 Drs. Manish Shah, Ramez Nassif, Dae Kim, Bret Miles, Boban Erovic, Kevin Wong
  • 2008–09 Drs. Sendia Kim, Perminder Parmer, Dan Novakovic
  • 2007-08 Drs. Kristen Otto, Nitin Pagedar and Raj Patel
  • 2006–07 Drs. Mark Shrime, Peter Walshe and Moshe Yehuda
  • 2005–06 Drs. Rick Payne, Dietmar Thurnher, Jonathan Clark
  • 2004–05  Drs. Jonathan Clark, Jason Franklin, Michael Odell, Roy Cheung