Interview with: Manraj Kaur, PT PhD
Harvard Medical School

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

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

How long have you been a member of ISOQOL?

Manraj Kaur (MK): I have been a member of ISOQOL since 2015. The first conference that I attended was in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Why did you join ISOQOL?

MK: I was introduced to ISOQOL by my doctoral supervisor, Dr. Anne Klassen. My motivations to join and for ongoing engagement were to be a part of a learning community led by world leaders in HRQL research and to establish a network of peers, colleagues, and mentors. It has been incredibly helpful to receive feedback on my research and to learn from others in the field.

What does this award mean to you?

MK: It is so humbling to be recognized for my contributions to date. To me, being nominated and winning the 2022 Donna Lamping Emerging Award meant being acknowledged for my service to the ISOQOL community and HRQL research overall. The award strengthens my commitment to society, academia, and my peers. On a personal level, it is inspiring that so many women whom I admire for their intelligence, methodological rigor, leadership, and mentorship have won this award in the past. It is also a pleasure to share this award with Kathrin Fischer whom I had the honour of co-chairing the New Investigator SIG with. The award is an encouragement to continue creating positive ripples within and beyond ISOQOL. I cannot thank ISOQOL enough for this incredible acknowledgement.

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

MK: The two people that were pivotal in my journey toward this award are Drs. Bellinda L. King-Kallimanis and Anne Klassen. Dr. Anne Klassen provided the framework for how to make the most of a conference in terms of academia and networking and supported my attendance at the Annual meetings. I would not be where I am today without her.

I met Dr. King-Kallimanis at the 2016 conference Mentor-Mentee session, and she (un)knowingly carved the path for me to win this award providing examples of how to get involved and contribute to the society. I shadowed the New Investigator SIG leaders for a year to understand their roles before I ran for the co-chair position. In the last 7 years, I have been a co-chair of the New Investigator and Health Preference Research SIGs, and I currently sit on the Communications Committee. In all my interactions, I have tried to be responsive to the unique needs of the group that I serve and to ISOQOL’s vision. I have played a role (albeit small) in building a sense of community by organizing team meetings outside of the conference and by collaborating on a manuscript with other SIG members.

There are many others who I would like to acknowledge, including my co-chairs, SIG members, ISOQOL leadership and administrative staff (special shout out to Colleen Pedersen).

What is your favourite thing about ISOQOL?

MK: The people! ISOQOL is by far the most inclusive, diverse, and trainee-centred community that I have been a part of to date Being an ISOQOL member is not only about learning about the cutting-edge, state-of-the-art research in HRQL, but also about connecting with a global network of mentors and colleagues and making new friends.

What do you love most about HRQL research?

MK: I love the person-centred nature of HRQL research and its direct impact on everything we do (health-related or otherwise). I love that at the heart of HRQL science is measurement. I also love that the field is evolving in terms of how we conceptualize HRQL and HRQL changes. There is much we don’t know about how to best measure HRQL and how to use data to benefit all members of society. It is such an exciting time to be working in this space and to have the opportunity to contribute.

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

MK: My biggest and most rewarding accomplishment so far has been my contribution to the development of the GENDER-Q, a patient-reported outcome measure for individuals seeking gender-affirming care.

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

MK: I have been fortunate to have so many mentors who have shared much practical and experiential advice. If I had to pick one – and I am still learning to apply this fully professionally and personally – it would be “Heck Yeah or No.” It is basically a simple guide on how to prioritize opportunities and time. All the things we do should be a “heck yes.”  By learning how to say “no,” we have more time for other things we value in life.

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

MK: I am learning R programming and integrating it into my workflow (i.e., to conduct analysis, create visualizations, and write manuscripts). It’s an incredibly powerful tool and I am so excited to learn a little every day.

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

MK: I love reading and have taken speed-reading courses. I usually read 4-5 books at a time, both fiction and non-fiction. I used to be a historical fiction fan, but lately, I am totally into mystery and literary fiction. I am currently re-reading “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens and “Scattered Minds” by Gabor Maté.  I enjoy connecting with people who have read and enjoyed the same books as me. Another fun fact is that I love building LEGO sets with my almost 5-year-old!

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

MK: I would just like to say again that I am very honoured to win this award. I look forward to Calgary and meeting up in Canada!  I’m easy to find on Twitter @DrManrajKaur or via email

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.