Dear members, family and friends of the pediatric oncology community,
If there’s one thing we all know, all too well, it is how time flies… It’s now been a year since I first took up this position – a year since I ended my shadowing of former president, Professor Giorgio Perilongo, whose patience and guidance I remain incredibly grateful for.
Looking back at the past 12 months, the first thing that comes to mind is: this is no part time job. Not a day goes by where I don’t wish I could do more. Our field knows so many urgent needs, it seems only fair that there be, in tandem, so many amazing advances in oncology: targeted treatments, checkpoint inhibitors, CAR-T Cells, whole genome sequencing…
Concretely, though, how do these advances translate in improvements in survival? And how do they impact care for children in countries with limited health care resources? Ultimately, what is the most urgent need facing our community: to research and promote new treatments for the few… or advocate for access to essential treatment for the many?
Answering this last question has been one of the greatest challenges in my presidency. In many ways, I suppose, this challenge was expected: the disparity between high income and low-income countries is hardly new, and the advocacy for a better and more equitable healthcare worldwide, an endless battle…
In this context, a number of initiatives have been launched, in order to improve access to SIOP and SIOP meetings… for all. Our newly approved membership structure presents a great opportunity for us to reach more members. Feel free to spread the word, as access to SIOP has now been made more affordable than ever before! We are also discussing, with a number of potential partners, opportunities to support important SIOP activities, such as the Young Investigator program or the annual scholarships.
Throughout these discussions, we hold our breaths as we wait for the outcome of the WHO application, expected in January. Regardless of the result, we would like to both acknowledge and thank Professor Gabriele Calaminus and Julia Challinor for their work and dedication to this project (and should their application bear fruit, we promise to share its more practical implications …in the next newsletter).
Beyond the busy, day to day launch of various initiatives, this second year of my term has also been characterised by a strange feeling of “in between”. After two years of close collaboration with Giorgio Perilongo – one as president elect for me, and one year as past president for him – I will have to be a “stand-alone president”, waiting another year before discovering the new president elect.
I am not the only one facing new transitions: Susanne Wollaert is returning to the SIOP administrative support, after giving birth in April to little Luisa Alexandra. During her absence, she was replaced by Laurie Tufts, whose amazing work myself and the members of the board are incredibly thankful for. As our group’s needs become increasingly complex and challenging, the board is also working to improve the SIOP administrative support. More to come soon!
Finally, while many of us look forward to a relaxing holiday period, others are busier than ever. In particular, Dr. Nakagawara and his team have been working tirelessly to make the Kyoto meeting an amazing 50th edition of the SIOP congress. Please, mark your calendars, as the days of November 16-19, 2018 will feature – beyond the usual, and ever impressive, scientific program – a special celebration of our SIOP community!
Wishing you a peaceful holiday season,