Here follows a short interview where Kees-Jan discusses his motivations, proudest achievements and some of the fascinating challenges moving forward in the world of healthcare.
How did you become interested in (pediatric) oncology?
- The simple answer is that I wanted to work with children and that I was interested in oncology. The biology of normal and neoplastic cell regulation have interested me for a long time and this has been driving me in my research with a main focus on the blood cell system. Of lately, I have also become more interested in consequences, or side effects, of the heavy treatments that we give the children at our ward. One of the reasons to work within pediatric oncology is that I am drawn to work with very ill children, that are really sick due to the underlying disease as well as the heavy treatment we give, but where we after all cure many of these patients. The fact that the field of oncology still is under development, with for instance the increasing usage of genomics in daily care and more and more modern treatments that we give our patients, is another reason why I want to work within oncology.
What part of your past/current work are you most proud of?
- I think that am most proud of the fact that I have been able to contribute to a positive and educative climate in my work environment, both in my research and the clinic. In the clinic, I am proud that we have been able to cure most of our pediatric patients with cancer, and that we have been able to offer a high standard of palliative care to those children that could not be cured. Further, I am proud that I have been able to perform both clinical and experimental research, parallel with my clinical duties, as I find this combination to be rather difficult. Also, I am proud that I now have a rather central role in deciding how children with acute myeloid leukemia are treated in large parts of Europe, as well as some countries outside Europe, though my work in some international working groups.
What are you looking forward to about your new position?
- I will be heading the Section for Pediatric oncology, Hematology, Immunology and Nefrology. It will be interesting to learn more about how the healthcare system works, apart from the healthcare close to the patient. This section is performing a lot of highly specialized healthcare, and it will be exciting to at least maintain and hopefully further develop this. A lot of research is already performed within our section, but I think this could be even better. For instance, I would like to see if we can perform more research that involves both clinicians, clinical and preclinical researchers as I think we can learn a lot from each other.
What are the biggest current challanges in this area that you will be facing?
- I will be Section Head only during 50% of my time, the rest is mainly for research and a bit of clinical work. So I think it will be a challenge to combine this. I am also honestly not so interested in economy, but I have realized that this is an important part of my new position and I think the challenge is motivate myself to do a good job there. There is a lack of personnel in healthcare, and it will therefore be difficult to find, and keep, good people that work in the clinic, and also have the time to perform research. Another challenge will be that healthcare in Sweden is being reorganized with the identification specific diseases that are to be centralized to a limited number of hospitals, so called highly specialized care. Within my section, 3 such disease groups will be the subject of national evaluation very soon; primary immunodeficiencies, some rare pediatric kidney diseases and coagulopathies. So, in the near future, we will have a lot of work to motivate why we think that we at Skåne University Hospital should continue to treat such patients, and possibly increase the influx of such patients from other regions.
How does being a member of WCMM in Lund affect your work as an oncologist?
- For me it is positive to meet clinical and preclinical researches from other fields. This gives sometimes some new angles and thoughts for ideas that I had not thought of before. This also helps me to kind of remain connected to the revolution of techniques in experimental research that has accelerated during the last years. I find it also very giving to discuss the challenges that come when combining clinical work with research with other clinical fellows.