Dr. Cameron Elliott

Top 40 Under 40 2016

Photography Curtis Comeau

Age: 32

Job Title: MD, PhD and Neurosurgery Resident, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research and Innovation, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta

Why He’s Top 40: He’s using his knowledge to advance the field of neurosurgery in the city.

Guilty Pleasure: “Gelato. My wife and I have a three-year-old and a five-month-old. My oldest rides on the back of my bike and we often go for gelato.”

Cameron Elliott points to an MRI picture on his laptop, an image of a child’s brain with a tumour near the area responsible for speech. But thanks to his research, removal of the growth without negative impacts will be much easier.

Elliott is a neurosurgery resident who is pursuing research for a PhD in Experimental Surgery program. He has a few projects on the go, including the Preoperative Advanced Brain Tumour Imaging Program, which has allowed for 40 brain tumours – like that of the image on his computer screen – to be safely removed from difficult locations. During surgery, the brain moves, so this imaging helps to determine where important parts are in relation to tumours, allowing for less chance of damage.

Elliott originally wanted to be a general practitioner, but after his first elective focusing on neurosurgery, he was enthralled with the specialty. “I rescheduled everything and spent all my elective time in neurosurgery,” he says.

Some of that time was spent in Zambia, during a two-month elective at a hospital where Elliott was one of two surgeons serving a population of about 15 million people. Supplies that are disposable in Canada were extremely rare and sometimes barely functioning in Zambia. After his return, Elliott, along with his mentor, sent a package of surgical equipment back to the facility where he served.

Elliott’s passion for medicine is obvious, but he recognizes the need for balance, which is why he organizes a yearly neurosurgery resident retreat with a focus on wellness. “It’s incredibly important for people in the medical field to recognize stress and fatigue,” says Elliott. 

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