Remembering Ton Hagenbeek

T Hagenbeek

 

The EHA community has received sad news that Ton Hagenbeek has passed away. Ton was 73.

In his professional life, Ton greatly advanced his field of expertise, immune gene therapy of hematological malignancies (leukemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma). He obtained his PhD in Rotterdam in 1977, “Extracorporeal irradiation of the blood in a rat leukaemia model”, under the guidance of his promoter, Prof dr DW van Bekkum. Ton held positions at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, and the Amsterdam University Medical Center, the Netherlands. He became Professor in 1997, and emeritus Professor in 2013.

From the founding of EHA in the early 1990s, Ton was an active member, and established long-time friendships with founding members Bob Löwenberg, John Goldman, Laurent Degos and Dieter Hoelzer. His life touched many other EHA members and colleagues in the field.

He has fulfilled various roles within EHA, including an esteemed EHA Board position, Congress President in Amsterdam 2006, member and chair of the Communication Committee, and faculty and committee member for the Outreach Program, traveling around the world for tutorials. He was instrumental in setting up Clinical Research Training in Hematology, and remained actively involved for years, serving as a source of inspiration for many alumni. He was the driving force for “Fresh Blood: Celebrating twenty-five years of the European Hematology Association”, the EHA history compendium, published in 2015.

Ton was press liaison for many years, moderating press briefings at physical congresses. He was much appreciated by returning media representatives, and set the mark for moderators. Always well prepared with abstracts printed (and read), Ton notoriously labelled and highlighted sections and deftly handled proceedings.

Ton was a pioneering member of EHA’s European Affairs Committee, established in 2010. He would remain a strong voice for patient engagement on access issues. It was his strong conviction that pricing of medicines should not be left only to pharmaceutical companies, but required policymaking and coordination at the European level. As chair of EHA’s Task Force on Fair Pricing, he advocated in particular for making market access conditional on not only safety and efficacy, but also affordability and availability. The goal was, and is, to ensure that medical innovation becomes available for patients across Europe. Ton Hagenbeek rotated off the European Affairs Committee in October 2020, just after the publication of the new EHA position paper on Fair Pricing of Innovative Medicines in HemaSphere, of which he was the lead author.

He had been greatly looking forward to chairing a session on pricing at the EHA2021 Virtual Congress. His presence and influence will be greatly missed.

A vibrant, charming personality with a special love for his family, roller coasters (yes, roller coasters), soccer and a good glass of wine, Ton was always easy to spot in a group of people. With his remarkably deep voice and laughter, Ton stood out in a crowd.

He will be dearly missed.

 

On behalf of the EHA Board,

John Gribben
EHA President

 

“Ton Hagenbeek was a great ambassador for patient engagement within the clinical community. He worked hard to strengthen the collaboration between healthcare professionals and patient community through EHA’s European Affairs Committee, EHA’s Patient Organizations Workgroup and HemaSphere. His determination to spotlight challenging topics such as pricing and access, to suggest solutions and to develop consensus was outstanding, while never losing his good sense of humor even if discussions got tough. The patient community will miss Ton as a top expert, a passionate collaborator and a dear friend.”

– Jan Geissler, co-founder of the CML Advocates Network, member of the EHA Patient Organizations Workgroup and former member of the EHA European Affairs Committee.

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