June 12, 2017
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Over the last three years, the SIOP Young Investigator Network has been constantly growing thanks to the hard work of Young Investigators, the SIOP board and many enthusiastic senior SIOP members who supported us on our way to establish a platform made by and for Young Investigators.

I am writing these lines to encourage Young Investigators reading this to become active in our network and to take away the doubts about the work load the active membership brings with it. To do this, I would like to give a bit more insight into the structure of the SIOP YI network. The network is headed by the SIOP YI board, several Young Investigators (currently 6) who discuss progress monthly via teleconference and who are also the connection to the SIOP board. Most of our active YI members are part of one or two subcommittees, reaching from social media, the collaborative event or for example the organization of the educational day or the mentorship program. Every committee contains at least one board member which connects again the work performed in the subcommittee to the Board and vice versa. In general, I can say that many of the tasks demand either the writing of e-mails, blog posts, brainstorming concepts or reporting our progress and future directions. In addition, the phone conferences need you to be active during the calls as we often discuss new projects and distribute tasks. Sometimes, monthly phone conferences demand a bit more scheduling, but the ultimate reward for this is worth the effort. To date, we have always managed to find a time and date to cover all the different times zones of the committee members.

I started as an active SIOP YI member during the SIOP 2014 in Toronto, when the awardees of the YI award where asked by the SIOP Board to set up a SIOP Young Investigator Network. As I had just finished the first year of my PhD training, I was completely overwhelmed by this project and was seriously afraid of how much time and energy this would cost me. In hindsight, becoming active in the YI Network was one of the best professional choices I have made. Next to the possibilities of networking with colleagues and outreach, I obtained many useful skills over the last years including organizational, communication and discussion skills as well as a deeper insight into the structure of SIOP. On an academic level, the YI Network gave me the chance to think out of the box. Being in the last year of my PhD training as cancer cell biologist focusing on leukemia, I was sometimes so focused on my field of research that I barely spoke to people from other disciplines. Talking to clinicians and epidemiologists significantly helped me gain a broader knowledge about pediatric cancers. As a pure lab scientists, I never had direct patient contact in my life and it was therefore interesting to learn from my colleagues “at the front line”.

Invest into the future - SIOP Young Investigators

Invest into the the future - SIOP Young Investigators

The other unique opportunity was the “Young” Aspect. Normally, during a congress you barely dare to speak to other colleagues when you are still a rookie (See my blog entry: Survival tips for a congress”), but the SIOP YI network helps you to integrate into a group of young Researchers/Clinicians who all have the same ambitions. You can discuss both your plans for the future, but also your daily struggles with your peers and share your experience with them.

I have had the honor to work and connect with many different Young Investigators from different disciplines and nationalities over the last three years and had a lot of fun.

At the end, I would like to kindly invite all of you Young Investigators to make an active contribution to our group: contact us on twitter, approach us during SIOP meetings or at the education day or if you feel like it, be a guest writer in our own SIOP YI Blog. Cheers! Rene

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