Interview with: Antonia V. Bennett, PhD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Antonia Bennett, PhD, has been active in ISOQOL for many years and most recently served on the ISOQOL Board of Directors from 2019 to 2022. With her term as a Director-at-Large having concluded following the Annual Conference in October, ISOQOL would like to thank Dr. Bennett for her involvement and dedication to the Society.

In an interview with QualityTALK, the departing Director-at-Large talks about her experience with the Society and lets members get to know her better.

What does serving on the ISOQOL Board of Directors mean to you?

Antonia Bennett (AB): I have been able to give back to ISOQOL as one of many people serving on the Board and we do our best to provide helpful, mission driven input to the executive committee. In preparation for board meetings, we read a lot of documents, such as conference plans, SIG reports, financial statements, etc., and it is great to see all the ways ISOQOL is thriving.

What is your favorite thing about ISOQOL?

AB: One is seeing the work that everyone is making progress on year to year, and the other is getting together with colleagues and keeping in touch with people as we move through our careers and our lives.

How long have you been a member of ISOQOL and why did you join?

AB: I joined ISOQOL in 2006. I think the first conference I attended was London 2010, when I was in the first year of my post-doc. I remember being out for drinks with Roxanne Jensen and Bellinda King-Kallimanis. I joined ISOQOL because it is the home for a lot interesting work on quality of life assessment in academic and industry research.

What do you love most about HRQL research?

AB: The overall project of aligning improvements in health care with the lived experience and goals of patients is compelling to me. I also like the multi-level nature of the work – there are the profound things patients say in interviews and the window they open into their day to day lives, there is the abstract nature of conceptual models, instrument validation and trial design, and there is the integration of this work into the complexities of clinical care and regulatory decision making.

What’s your biggest (or one of your biggest) professional accomplishment(s) so far?

AB: I am serving as the PRO / survey methodologist on three long term studies that may influence clinical practice guidelines for breast cancer, start new discussions on the patient-centeredness of clinical trial endpoints for AML, and potentially increase the affordability of drugs for blood cancers in the United States.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

AB: Something I learned from Donald Patrick is that carefully defining the concepts of interest is the foundation to any project, and if a project has become stuck, going back to that will help you make progress again. In addition to that, when I am working with a clinical investigator who is having trouble formulating their exact research question or specific aims, it’s usually helpful to say “Let’s step back a minute. What is the clinical problem you are trying to solve?” It’s a variation on “start with the end in mind.”

What’s one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month?

AB: The food scene in Portland, Oregon (USA) includes truly delicious vegan ice cream and all kinds of spicy food.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

AB: In the past few years I have become very interested in opera – the arias in particular, and with YouTube, you can see performances of rising stars from around the world. Is tenor Pene Pati the new Pavarotti? Pumeza Matshikiza is also phenomenal. Maybe in my next life I will train to be an opera singer. Maybe I will start now.

This newsletter editorial represents the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ISOQOL. 

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The International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL) is a global community of researchers, clinicians, health care professionals, industry professionals, consultants, and patient research partners advancing health related quality of life research (HRQL).

Together, we are creating a future in which patient perspective is integral to health research, care and policy.