ONLA Awards

ONLA is passionate about supporting ONLs in their future endeavours, whatever their stage of life. Each year we offer a number of financial awards for travel and academic purposes.

If you are an ONL and would like to apply for these awards, please complete one of these forms:

Travel Award         Travel Award Application Guidelines

Academic Award   |Academic Award Application Guidelines

The Barbara Nathan ONLA Award

Barbara Nathan (née Michaels, ONL 1954) died, aged 73, on 8 February 2016. Barbara was Vice-President of ONLA from 2009 to 2016 and was a member of the ONLA Committee for many years. She was particularly passionate about the ONLA Awards and we have decided to name one of these awards in her honour.

From 2017 the Barbara Nathan Award will be given each year to the ONL applicant whose endeavours most capture the spirit of the School and the ONL community.

Please contact the Alumnae Office for more details.

Read the stories of recent ONLA Award winners:

Barbara Nathan Award Recipient - Anandi Thakrar (2013)

Navchetan School, Bhuj, India

 In June 2017 I led a group of students from the Universities of Nottingham and Warwick out to Bhuj in India to teach in a school for children with disabilities. This was my second time volunteering at Navchetan School, where the volunteers teach lessons in Gujarati, English and sign language to classes with a mix of disabilities. Unsurprisingly, the students surpassed our expectations in a variety of ways. The deaf students were extremely skilled at dancing, despite not being able to hear the music, and were speedier than us at arithmetic. Moreover, the blind children had flawless singing voices and the physically disabled were able to play cricket and badminton better than I could.


As most of the students board at the school, we also provided pastoral care, which I could tell had the most impact, as so many students remembered me from the 2015 trip. Thank you to ONLA for the generous donation, which helped towards my travel costs and to buy many resources for the children. This ranged from sports equipment and fancy dress to more basic items such as pens, paper and glue sticks.

Travel Award 2017: Kyla Lief (2012)

Medical Elective in the Philippines

 This February I embarked on my medical elective placement to the beautiful island of Palawan in the Philippines. Myself and four other final year medical students from King’s College London were welcomed with open arms at Palawan Baptist Hospital for a month to help with medical duties. The hospital has 12 inpatient beds, an area for accident and emergencies, a room for outpatient appointments and one doctor who is effectively on duty 24/7. Living on site we immersed ourselves in the everyday life at PBH, starting with the 5:30am wake up calls from the roosters, followed by the daily devotion ceremony and then we began attending to our patients. One minute I would be monitoring a patient suffering from a tropical disease and then the next I was helping deliver a baby! After a four- year-old girl was brought in having drowned in her bath, we took it upon ourselves to visit all the local schools and teach basic life support skills to the students to prevent this happening again.

The Philippines does not have a free national health care service so patients either pay for everything out of their own pocket or pay a monthly sum into the ‘PhilHealth’ insurance scheme. Claims are often denied, meaning patients end up having to sell their belongings to pay for treatment or in a lot of cases, they leave an ‘I owe you’ note for the hospital. I observed a 65-year-old smoker with symptoms suggesting lung cancer refuse to have a chest x-ray because he couldn't afford the investigation itself, let alone the future treatment he might require.  

My last few days were spent on a 'medical and dental mission' providing healthcare to those who, due to financial and geographical constraints, are not able to visit a hospital. We set up clinics in rural community centres and helped over 300 patients, some of whom had never seen a doctor before. Without access to investigations, we had to rely on our clinical judgement to reach a diagnosis. Thanks to the Barbara Nathan Award for ONLs, the treatment on this mission was provided free of charge and our patients could not have been more grateful.


Despite difference in resources, cultural and medical practices, my time at this tiny rural hospital made me realise that compassion is the universal language of medicine and I hope not to lose sight of this during my career as a doctor.

Academic Award 2017: Saarah Ebrahim (2008)

Department of Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery, Baltimore

My sub-internship was at the world-renowned Department of Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. For most of my time I was under the supervision of the Assistant Professor for the regional burn centre of five states. The division oversees 500 cases per year and I was involved with all aspects of patient care. Within a two-month period I saw a large breadth of burns from 1% to 65% of the total body surface area and of different aetiologies (flame, scald, chemical and electrical). I was scrubbed into surgery three days a week, excising and debriding burnt tissue, applying allograft and harvesting split thickness skin graft. The other days were spent in clinic where I would see patients independently, manage their next steps and write up their cases.

I also carried out a clerkship under the Director of Oncological Reconstruction and Associate Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Here, I assisted in complex breast, craniofacial and microsurgical reconstruction. Once a week, I attended the department Grand Rounds where influential speakers gave talks on their area of expertise and emerging research.

In addition to the clinical aspects, I had abstracts accepted as poster presentations at the Eastern Great Lakes Burn Conference in New York and the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, National Undergraduate Conference. Furthermore, I have been working alongside a Burns Fellow and a PhD statistician, to create an extensive database on inhalational injuries. We have used this data to submit an abstract to the American Burn Association Conference in Chicago, with a series of papers based on National Burn Data, to follow.


This experience has provided an extensive insight into burns and plastic surgery. I found my time to be thought-provoking, and this has fortified my resolve to commit myself both academically and professionally to a career within Plastics. I am grateful to ONLA for providing sponsorship for this enriching experience.

Academic Award 2017 : Ushani Srenathan ( 2010)

Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies 2017 Conference in Chicago

 I was awarded an ONLA Academic Award to attend the FOCIS (Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies) 2017 annual scientific conference in Chicago. This meeting focused on clinical immunology whilst emphasising the importance of bridging the gap between immunological research executed by scientists and the treatment of immunological diseases in hospitals. As an immunology PhD student researching the contribution of a novel cell subset to causing psoriatic arthritis, attending this meeting was an instrumental opportunity to help further my scientific knowledge for my research. I was honoured to attend talks by some of the scientists at the forefront of developing treatment for immune-mediated diseases.

Each day was packed with sessions dedicated to studying cell types in the context of therapeutic development for immune-mediated diseases namely cancer, arthritis, psoriasis, and many more. In the evenings, there were poster and networking sessions where I presented my poster showcasing recent data I generated in the lab and received invaluable feedback which has helped me design further experiments. Attending FOCIS 2017 was an unforgettable experience.

Academic Award 2017: Wakana Taranaka (2009)

Delirium diagnosis

 ‘Delirium’ refers to acute confusion caused by an underlying illness and affects a high percentage of patients admitted to hospital. It is a complex and multifactorial problem which can slip by unnoticed through medical assessments, cloud clinical judgement and delay effective treatment.



It is particularly common in elderly people who have sustained a hip fracture, a cohort I treated as a junior doctor in Spring 2016. Despite the high incidence there is no single diagnostic test that is effective and used universally. I decided to carry out a project comparing existing and new ways to detect delirium to see if one was more accurate than the other.


I found that a new questionnaire was able to diagnose delirium more sensitively, even in those with severe dementia whose baseline function may be so restricted that it is difficult to distinguish acute deterioration from the norm.


The potential of this test, once standardised, is that all members of a multidisciplinary team caring for a patient can perform it and work together for a better outcome. This could mean improved post-op mobility; shorter hospital stays; less risk of developing hospital-related complications and, ultimately, it could maximise the patient’s independence once discharged. This independence is no doubt the most important goal for the patient and their family.

I had the opportunity to give a poster presentation of my findings at an international fracture conference in November 2016. Since this new test was devised in the UK many foreign teams have not yet incorporated it into their practice. Moving forwards, I hope my project will benefit patients and medical teams through a potentially long and difficult rehabilitation process, and I will continue to explore other aspects of geriatric medicine, which I wish to pursue in the future.