19 March 2024

The College runs 2 annual essay prizes for undergraduates and foundation doctors – the Paola Domizio Undergraduate Essay Prize and the Hugh Platt Foundation Essay Prize. They present a unique opportunity to discover more about pathology and hone your writing skills.

Both essay competitions are currently open for 2024 submissions. The winning essays will be published on our website and in our membership magazine, the Bulletin.

The winning essay for the 2023 Hugh Platt Foundation Essay Prize was written by Dr Sally Ashton, exploring how pathologists will shape healthcare over the next 75 years. Sally was formally presented her award at the most recent New Fellows’ Ceremony in February. We caught up with her to find out some more about her background, why she entered the competition and her thoughts on the award.

edited_Sally Ashton - Hugh Platt Foudnation Essay Prize winner 2023.jpg

Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what drew you to pathology?

I am a graduate medic, and previously worked as a translator before studying medicine. I am currently an FY2 doctor in paediatrics in Swansea, but during my FY1 year I took part in the Longitudinal Integrated Foundation Training (LIFT) programme. This enabled me to spend 1 day a week for the entire year in histopathology. I was drawn to this programme because at medical school there was not much exposure to pathology and I wanted to find out more.

Can you tell us what inspired you to write the essay?

I think that, as with the NHS and many medical and surgical specialties, pathology is at a turning point. This is largely thanks to developments in technology and changes in demand to the service. With this in mind, it was interesting to imagine where we would be in the coming years.

One of the things that draws me to pathology is the wide range of specialties and subspecialties that it encompasses, so it was a lovely excuse to explore all these areas and think about where they might be in the future.

Can you tell us a couple of your main points from your essay?

In my essay, I explore the future of preserving and modifying blood products so that they can be used in areas without good supply chains, and/or can be given to any patient regardless of their blood type. I find the idea of this so interesting as it could revolutionise healthcare in developing countries and remote areas.

I also looked at how we are researching the effects of nanoplastics on the human body using histopathology. This piqued my interest, as it ties in with concerns about how environmental changes may affect humans.

Dr Sally Ashton receiving her award at the New Fellows Ceremony in February

How did it feel to find out that you had won the Hugh Platt Essay Prize?

I was very surprised to win but was also really happy. I spent a lot of time researching and writing the essay, so it was really motivating to find out I had won.

And lastly, what are your hopes for your future time at the College?

I am still not 100% sure which specialty I would like to pursue in the future but I am interested in histopathology, infectious diseases and haematology, as well as a few other medical specialties. I hope to continue engaging with the College to enhance my knowledge of pathology, and hopefully to clarify the route of my future career.


Are you an undergraduate or foundation doctor and want to try your hand at the College's essay competitions? Please see below for more information on the prizes and how to enter:

Essay competitions

The deadlines are Monday 8 April 2024 for the Paola Domizio Undergraduate Essay Prize and Wednesday 8 May 2024 for the Hugh Platt Foundation Essay Prize.