Meet Helen Papadaki, our January volunteer of the month
- Can you tell us what you do for EHA and when you started?
I am currently a Councilor of the EHA Board for the period 2016-2020, chair of the EHA Membership Committee and vice-chair of the Scientific Working Group (SWG) on Granulocytes & Constitutional Marrow Failure Syndromes (G&CMFS). I have been involved in EHA’s educational activities during the EHA conferences for many years as a speaker or an abstract reviewer.
Recently, I have contributed to the educational program “Highlights of Past EHA” (HOPE) Latin America 2019 as a speaker and EHA representative and to the two-day EHA-SWG Scientific Meeting on G&CMFS 2019 as a co-chair and a speaker.
As chair of the EHA Membership Committee, I have been involved in the implementation of the Joint Membership that represents an EHA-National Societies Associate Membership aiming to intensify collaborations between EHA and National Societies, to provide more training, educational and research opportunities to members across Europe and to strengthen the voice of hematology and hematologists in Europe. Also, I am contributing to the EHA’s efforts to collaborate with the National Societies for better understanding the hematologists’ needs in different countries.
I started to be actively implicated in EHA in 2006 following the invitation of Professor Jan Palmblad, Professor of Medicine at the Karolinska Institute & University Hospital, to become a member and vice-chair of the newly established at that time-point SWG on Granulocyte and Monocyte Disorders. Until then, I was an EHA member for many years participating in the annual conference.
- How did you become a volunteer? Who helped/encouraged you to become one?
It was Professor Jan Palmblad, Professor of Medicine at the Karolinska Institute/University Hospital who encouraged me to support the newly established SWG on Granulocyte and Monocyte Disorders in 2006. I next became the chair of this SWG for 3 years and I remained an active member of the steering committee all these years until its current extended form as SWG-G&CMFS. In 2016 I had the privilege to be elected as Councilor of the EHA Board. The people in the EHA Board and Office are always so enthusiastic, supportive, openminded with many novel ideas that stimulate further the volunteering in several fields and projects.
- What is your motivation on volunteering for EHA?
I really appreciate EHA’s dedication in promoting excellence in patient care, research, and education in hematology trying also to give opportunities to clinicians, researchers, scientists within and beyond Europe. My main motivation on volunteering for EHA is the capability to be involved in the activities that aim to homogenize education and patient care across the world. This is really fascinating as we know that there are major differences between countries and therefore activities that bring hematologists together are of particular importance. I also think it is very important to distribute the knowledge to the others, particularly to the young generation or hematologists from countries with less opportunities, as well as to share/exchange the knowledge within networks for the study of diseases, particularly rare diseases. It is also the EHA’s “atmosphere” and the “passion” of people in the Society, the Board and the Office that further motivate and inspire me to contribute in our Society in any way I can.
- Why you choose to serve EHA?
As a European hematologist, I feel EHA as a big Family and I have the feeling that by serving EHA I contribute to EHA’s policy and tasks that include among others, the advocation and connection of hematologists and harmonization of education and patients’ care across Europe. It is also an honor and privilege to have any volunteering role and opportunities to support the most important Association in the field of Hematology in Europe
- What does volunteering for EHA give you/do to you?
It is the satisfaction that you are a member of an important Association and you support its activities and tasks. It is also the experience you get not only in the fields of education and research but also in management and administration. EHA also offered me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with role-models but also with hematologists from different countries and cultures. The collaborations within EHA gave me unique networking opportunities. Thus, in collaboration with EHA partners from 29 different countries and with EHA’s support, we applied and got funded for an EU COST project on the diagnosis and treatment of neutropenias (EuNet-INNOCHRON 2019-2023) that will further promote the research in this field.
- What would you say to others who would like to volunteer for EHA as well?
Go for this fascinating experience! Any trainee, clinician, scientist or researcher in the field of hematology can find their own active role within EHA and get the satisfaction to work for the others but also the benefits that EHA offers. At the end, the more you are volunteering, the more you are getting better in your field of work whereas, in parallel, you strengthen the efforts and potential of EHA, our own Society!