Interview with: Lene Kongsgaard Nielsen, PhD MD, and Kathrin Fischer, MSc PhD
2022 Annual Conference Co-Chairs

The ISOQOL Annual Conference offers opportunities to learn about the latest developments in HRQL research, as well as network with fellow colleagues, new investigators, and leaders in the field. The 2022 Annual Conference will be held 19-22 October 2022, in Prague, Czech Republic.

The theme for this year is Redefining boundaries – breaking new ground in patient-centered outcomes research. Registration for the conference opens early June, so stay tuned!

The 2022 co-chairs have been working with ISOQOL staff over the past year and a half to bring this meeting to fruition. The co-chairs manage the scientific content of the conference, including developing the theme, inviting plenary speakers, and soliciting presentations to develop a diverse scientific program.

In an interview with QualityTALK, the 2022 Annual Conference co-chairs talk about their experience with the Annual Conference and let ISOQOL members get to know them better.

Lene Kongsgaard Nielsen, PhD MD, has been an ISOQOL member since 2015. She currently works in the Quality of Life Research Center at Odense University Hospital in Odense, Denmark.

Kathrin Fischer, MSc PhD, is a PCOR Scientist at Roche Products Ltd in Welwyn Garden City, United Kingdom. She has been a member of ISOQOL since 2015 as well.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to becoming a co-chair of the Annual Conference?

Lene Kongsgaard Nielsen (LKN): I became a member of ISOQOL in 2015 as part of planning for my PhD project. I was received with open arms by the community and felt so welcome, which resulted in no doubts when I was asked to become a SIG co-chair. The role of being a SIG co-chair was enriching and therefore I had no doubts when I was asked to become the co-chair of the Annual Conference.

Kathrin Fischer (KF): It is difficult to say when the journey actually started; I guess the first step towards becoming a co-chair was by volunteering as a co-chair of the New Investigators SIG back in 2015 and staying active within the ISOQOL community, i.e. as member of various committees and task forces. However, I have to say that I was a surprised and of course honored when ISOQOL asked me to become a scientific co-chair for the annual conference 2022.

What does being a co-chair of the conference mean to you?

LKN: Being a co-chair of the conference means a lot to me. I get the chance to meet other engaged people from around the World with the same area of interest as myself. In addition, I get the chance to expand my knowledge to other areas of quality of life – areas and knowledge I didn´t knew existed. 

KF: It is a huge honor to be the scientific co-chair of the annual conference. For me personally it also means to step out of my comfort zone and offers me plenty of learning opportunities.

Would you recommend serving as conference co-chair to other ISOQOL members?

LKN: I would definitely recommend serving as co-chair to other ISOQOL members, but I would also let the ISOQOL member know about the time consumption.  

KF: I would absolutely recommend it to ISOQOL members! It is an amazing opportunity to collaborate with the amazing ISOQOL staff and colleagues across the globe in order to put together a great conference program. Similar to most new projects, the amount of tasks seems to be overwhelming in the beginning, but the ISOQOL staff is doing a fantastic job in guiding us and making sure that we are on track.

What is your favorite thing about the Annual Conference?

LKN: Spending 3-4 days with full attention on QOL. 

KF: That is a tricky question. I am always impressed by the high quality workshops put together by colleagues and whenever I have the opportunity, I try to join a workshop. If I have to decide, I would say that the networking opportunity is my favorite part of the conference.

What does ISOQOL’s Annual Conference mean to you?

LKN: Networking, getting inspired and extending knowledge and meeting new people!

KF: For me the AC is a great way to get an overview of what is happing in the field of HRQL research and where the field is heading in a condensed way. I very much value the learning opportunities in combination with the great networking opportunities.

Why did you join ISOQOL?

LKN: I was about to initiate my PhD project, which was a survey among patients with multiple myeloma, as part of Danish Myeloma Study Group. None of the other members of the group had specific expertise within quality of life measurement.

KF: When I started my PhD, right on the first day, my supervisor told me that she would like to take me to this great conference of an organization called ISOQOL. She was a board member back then and she was very enthusiastic about ISOQOL and outlined the opportunities of the society for new investigators in the field – and she was right, I am a member ever since.

What do you love most about HRQL research?

LKN: The fundamental idea of the patient being in the center.

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 and we have to “redefine boundaries and breaking new ground in patient-centered outcomes research” – this is what lead us to this year’s conference theme.

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

LKN: The challenges in measuring the effect of Child Health Services.

KF: We started to have regular meetings with the plenary speakers and I can say that I learn a lot from the experts that we invited for the plenary sessions, but I don’t want to spoil anything. So, I would say the one thing that I learned last month is that things are more complicated than they seem.

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

KF: As a teenager, I was a big fan of the Backstreet Boys (a boy band that was pretty famous in the 90s/00s), but never made it to a concert with my friends, as we could not find an adult to accompany us. Guess what – the Backstreet Boys are going on tour this year, and we got tickets!

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.