2024 | Volume 25 | Issue 1

Dr Vikram Padhye, a recipient of the 2022 RACS Marjorie Hooper Scholarship, emphasises the pivotal role it played in bridging funding complexities, enabling him to delve into groundbreaking techniques in sleep apnoea management. Additionally, it positioned him as the first Australian to undertake the Stanford sleep surgery Fellowship.
“The Marjorie Hooper Scholarship unlocked the opportunity by allowing me to bring my own funding to Stanford University. Without it, this experience would have been very difficult," he says. The award is especially meaningful as funding U.S. fellowships is challenging for Australians.
Currently at Stanford, a global leader in sleep surgery, Dr Padhye, an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon, specialises in sleep surgery—a subspecialty within ENT. His focus is on implantable neurostimulation therapy, present in the U.S. market for about eight years.
“I learned the procedure, surgical techniques, and device use, as Stanford has been using it for quite some time. Immersing myself in the implant service here is crucial during this exciting period of innovation and development in the field," he says.
Describing it as an upper airway stimulation device, similar to a pacemaker for the tongue, he explains the surgical process involves placing a small electrode around the hypoglossal nerve in the neck and connecting it to an implant which senses breathing in the chest—an alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines.
Dr Padhye’s initial plan to return to Australia in July 2023 was delayed and extended, given the ongoing learning opportunities at Stanford—an offer he gladly accepted. “Fellowship opportunities for subspecialty training in sleep apnoea are limited both in Australia and worldwide. Stanford has long been a pioneering leader in this field, offering valuable training opportunities,” he says.
After completing his surgical training in Adelaide, Dr Padhye lined up two international Fellowships. The first was the University of Toronto Fellowship in sinus and skull base surgery (2019 - 20), with a plan to transition directly to Stanford. But the move to Stanford was unfortunately disrupted by the pandemic.
This unplanned hiatus led him to start practice in Adelaide, where he worked at the Royal Adelaide, Modbury and Lyell McEwin Hospitals, along with private practice. Fortunately, his Stanford supervisor supported his decision to delay his start until the pandemic settled.
This unexpected break provided valuable insights into the environment I would return to—a unique perspective not everyone gains before a Fellowship,” he says.


Unlike the typical Fellowship experience focused on widespread learning, I already knew my destination and the potential challenges of Australian practice compared with the U.S.experience. 

Armed with clear questions, I directed my Fellowship towards a higher level of understanding. I focused on the techniques applicable and emerging in Australia, aiming to establish a multidisciplinary sleep apnoea service within the Australian healthcare framework.”

Dr Padhye discovered his love for surgery during his medical school days. "I had a feeling I was leaning towards surgery, especially after my surgical rotations. Professor Suren Krishnan in Adelaide was a significant mentor who inspired me with his practice and dedication to patients. That's when my interest in ENT surgery was sparked."
Returning to Australia, Dr Padhye aspires to establish a dedicated sleep apnoea surgery service in South Australia, building on the work initiated by colleagues. His vision includes integrating a multidisciplinary team and introducing advanced therapies, such as upper airway stimulation devices, thus providing a spectrum of options for patients.
Dr Padhye encourage others to apply for RACS scholarships. “I was unsuccessful with my first two applications, but I really believed in the work I wanted to do and its benefits for Australian patients."
Beyond his professional journey, Dr Padhye values family and a balanced lifestyle. "I am lucky to have a wonderful family and love spending time with them. We enjoy travel, outdoor activities, exploring national parks, and of course, enjoying American sports," he shares.