ISTH Professional Success Stories – How the ISTH Can Help Advance Your Career
By Renee Eslick, M.D.
“Inspiration is the word,” mused Saskia Middeldorp, M.D., Ph.D., when reflecting on what the ISTH has contributed to her career. She is now Professor of Internal Medicine at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and has been elected as an incoming member of ISTH Council. It is a theme repeated by many leading experts in the field, who credit their engagement with the ISTH as an invaluable asset in advancing their career.
Many have been attending ISTH Congresses since the very early stages of their career.
Nicola Mutch, Ph.D., a molecular biologist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, recalls her first Congress fondly.
“My relationship with the ISTH began when I was a Ph.D. student, and I still remember my first Congress,” she said. “I was absolutely blown away by the science, the exhibition and poster hall and the people. I loved every minute.”
Mutch is now the Chair of the Scientific and Standardization Committee (SSC) of the ISTH, among multiple other leadership roles.
Similarly, Pantep Angchaisuksiri, M.D., cites the ISTH as being highly influential in his own career. He is currently the Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Unit in Ramathibodi Hospital in Thailand.
“I have participated in all ISTH Congresses since I finished my hematology fellowship training,” he said. “I have met many experts in the field. This has enabled me to build a wide network of contacts.”
Middeldorp has also attended every ISTH Congress since her first meeting in 1995.
“My first was in Jerusalem. I was a resident in internal medicine. I was very, very junior,” she said. “I remember the atmosphere, the science. I was looking at people in the Congress, and I had only seen their names on papers. I didn’t even have a poster; I was so lucky to come!”
Middeldorp now makes a habit of taking all her Ph.D. students to the ISTH Congress every year, so they can be similarly inspired.
“This is the professional society where I feel at home, and I think it is because of that early experience,” she said.
The ISTH offers an invaluable opportunity to engage with leading experts, form mentor relationships, and collaborate on research with the international scientific community.
“There are wonderful mentors within the ISTH and being a part of this community allows you to connect with others and build a body of contacts,” Mutch explained. “This will facilitate your career and open up new avenues to pursue. Interacting with known experts in the field can be daunting when you are at an early stage, but don’t let that put you off! Everyone is friendly and importantly want to help and expand opportunities for early career researchers.”
Angchaisuksiri agrees. “At the ISTH Congresses, don’t be shy to approach the person whom you want to get advice from or possibly collaborate with,” he said. “Don’t give up, and keep working hard at this. You will find that your efforts will pay off in the long run.”
The opportunity to meet and collaborate with others in the field is often cited as one of the key features offered by the ISTH.
“Attending the ISTH Congress and associated meetings is like being part of a very large family,” Mutch said. “It is so great seeing so many friendly faces, and it is so easy to strengthen existing [relationships], and create new friendships and collaborations.”
Participation in formal ISTH committees and panels is strongly encouraged.
“Get involved and don’t be shy of signing up to committees and panels,” Mutch advised. “Remember your opinion is really valued.”
Middeldorp also encourages more junior members to engage with the ISTH Early Career Committee. With so many opportunities afforded by ISTH membership, there has never been a better time to engage with the society and advance your own career.
If you are not already a member, consider joining at isth.org/membership.