Interview with: Kathrin Fischer, MSc PhD
Boehringer Ingelheim

The Emerging Leader Award was established in 2011 to honor and commemorate past-President Donna Lamping’s contribution to the leadership of the Society. It is awarded to members showing exceptional leadership skills and potential by playing a key role in initiating and/or steering a specific ISOQOL task or project to successful completion.

In 2022, both Kathrin Fischer, MSc PhD, and Manraj Kaur, PT PhD, received the Donna Lamping Emerging Leader Award at the Annual Conference in October.

In an interview with QualityTALK, Dr. Fischer talks about her experience with the Society and lets members get to know her better.

How long have you been a member of ISOQOL?

Kathrin Fischer (KF): I joined ISOQOL in February 2015, so I am a member for almost 8 years now.

Why did you join ISOQOL?

KF: When I started my PhD, right on the first day, my PhD advisor told me that she would like to take me to this great conference of an organization called ISOQOL (to be honest, I had not heard about the society before). She was very enthusiastic about ISOQOL and all the great opportunities the society offers to (new) investigators in the field of quality of life research – and she was right, I’ve been a member ever since.

What does this award mean to you?

KF: It is a huge honor to be one of the recipients of the Donna Lamping Emerging Leader Award and to be acknowledged for the work that I have done over the past years. But for me the award is not only about the past; I also want to live up to the award and continue to grow my leadership skills within ISOQOL!

Can you tell a little about your journey to the award, how you got here, who was important to the process, etc.?

KF: My journey started right after becoming a member of ISOQOL. My PhD advisor, who was at that time one of ISOQOL’s board members, suggested to put my name forward as co-chair of the New Investigators SIG – to be honest, I was a bit hesitant, as I just started my PhD and was so new in the field, but I also saw that this was a great opportunity to grow and learn. I was very lucky that I had fantastic co-chairs, who were with me in this journey. It was also during that time that I was invited to join ISOQOL’s strategic planning committee as a representative of ISOQOL’s New Investigators – an amazing opportunity to learn about strategic thinking and leadership! These two were definitely the starting point of my journey, and over the past years, I had the chance to contribute to ISOQOL as part of the communication task force that later became the communication committee, as the co-chair of the education committee, as member of different judging panels and as the scientific program co-chair of the 2022 Annual Conference. There were many members of the society who were important to this process – those who served with me as co-chairs or members on various committees and task forces, those who I could reach out to for advice, including the fantastic ISOQOL stuff, but most importantly my PhD advisor Sandra Nolte, who was and still is an amazing mentor.

What is your favorite thing about ISOQOL?

KF: My favorite thing about ISOQOL is definitely the members of the society! It is so inspiring to meet all those passionate individuals, who advance the field of quality of life research and patient-centred outcomes research.

What does being an ISOQOL member mean to you?

KF: Being an ISOQOL member means a lot to me. It is a great way to get an overview of what is happing in the field of HRQL research, what are the current hot topics and future directions in the field, and to learn about new approaches, methodologies and tools. I really appreciate the networking and educational aspect of ISOQOL.

What do you love most about HRQL research?

KF: I truly believe that we as a research community can contribute to make the individual (patient) perspective an essential part of health research, care and policy. While the field is evolving and made great progress over the last decades, there is still a lot to do to advance the science of quality of life and related patient-centered outcomes.

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

KF: That is a difficult question, as some of my professional accomplishments that felt very big at that time, retrospectively do not look that big anymore, for example when my first manuscript was published in a peer-reviewed journal.

One big accomplishment in the recent past, was the work on the scientific program for the annual conference together with Lene Kongsgaard Nielsen, while starting a new job and moving to another country. Experiencing the great energy at the conference felt like a big accomplishment to me.

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

KF: I was very lucky to have great mentors over the years. It is hard to say what the best piece of career advice was, but among the different advices one that was very helpful to me was: “There are many ways to achieve your goals – there is not one right way to do it – it is about finding your own way!”

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

KF: One thing I learned is how challenging it can be to work in the rare disease space, and how important partnerships with patients and experts in the field are.

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

KF: Once I took a one-day course “How to walk in high heels 101” in Paris. At the end of the day, I got a certificate (I guess the fact that I did not break my neck was enough to pass the course), but coming from a small town plastered with cobblestones, I am definitely more the person wearing flats.

Is there anything else you would like to share with ISOQOL membership (e.g., current projects you are working on)? 

KF: It is not really a project, but as mentioned above, working in the rare disease space, I face challenges that are new to me and I want to learn more about best practice, pragmatic approaches etc.

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.