Meet Irene Roberts, our September volunteer of the month
- Can you tell us what you do for EHA and when you started?
I joined EHA in 2003 and shortly afterwards I was lucky enough to be elected as a member of the EHA Board. This was a very exciting role because EHA was much smaller at the time and offered lots of opportunity for trying out new ideas and initiatives, especially as a member of the Executive Board which I joined in 2005. I've also served on the Fellowships and Grants Committee, the Research Committee, the Communications Committee, the Nomination Committee and the Scientific Program Committee for the 12th EHA Annual Congress, which I chaired in 2007. I also had the honour of being the Congress President for the 16th EHA Annual Congress in London in 2011- after that this role was abolished, which I hope was a coincidence! At the moment, I am a member of the EHA Global Outreach Program Committee.
- How you became a volunteer? Who helped/encouraged you to become one?
I was encouraged to become a member by my then boss, Prof John Goldman, who was committed to EHA from its very earliest stages. He soon persuaded me to run for election as a Board member. At the time, I was a junior faculty member at Imperial College London with a very busy clinical job and 2 young children. John assured me that being a Board member just involved one meeting a year in Schiphol Airport! Funnily enough, this proved to be an understatement. But I have never once regretted the decision to go ahead.
- What is your motivation on volunteering for EHA?
Two things in particular. The first is that EHA has always put a major emphasis on science and research in hematology. I feel strongly that this is essential for us to continue to make improvements in clinical care. The second is the focus on collaboration, working across national lines. This is not only essential in small specialities like mine (pediatric hematology), but also increasingly for clinical trials in all specialties as Precision Medicine approaches define specific subsets of hematologic disorders.
- Why you choose to serve EHA?
Every EHA committee that I've been part of has really made a difference. It's a great way to work with interesting and expert colleagues from countries throughout Europe and, in particular to interact with young clinical and scientific colleagues who will form the next generation of leaders in our field. EHA has pioneered interactive approaches to education in hematology- one of the highlights from my point of view is the biannual EHA Focus in Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Course that we have been running since 2003 and that is inspired by combining close interactions between the participants and the teaching faculty, a strong emphasis on real cases and the scientific basis of disease and its treatment.
- What does volunteering for EHA give you/do to you?
- Interacting with inspiring colleagues
- Opportunity to make a difference and to give something back
- Constant learning
- To my surprise, it also turned out to be fun.
- What would you say to others who would like to volunteer for EHA as well?
Please give it a go! I have never regretted it.