Professor Heinrich Heimann was awarded the prestigious "Gisbert Richard Lecture" last weekend at the EURETINA 2021 meeting. EURETINA 2021 Virtual was held from 9th–12th September across 5 channels. The programme of events included 4 Keynote Lectures (one of which was the Gisbert Richard Lecture), 16 EURETINA Sessions, 22 Symposia Sessions, and 44 Instructional Courses. It is the largest retinal surgeon meeting in Europe with close to 10,000 attendees, and is rapidly becoming the most important global meeting for this speciality.
Professor Heimann is a Consultant Ophthalmologist specialising in vitreoretinal surgery and ocular oncology at St Paul’s Eye Hospital, at the Liverpool University Hospital Foundation Trust. He leads the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Clinic, one of the three supraregional adult eye cancer centres in England. He holds an Honorary Professorship with the University of Liverpool, and is active in both basic and translational research.
The European Vision Institute is thrilled to announce the “TOP LIST of excellent Women in European Vision Research and Ophthalmology 2021”. See full article
Q1: Although their presence has grown steadily for the past 3 decades, women hoping for a career in Vision Research and Ophthalmology still face many obstacles. What would be in your opinion the three most important steps to make the field more diverse?
a) Encourage Vision Research and Ophthalmology at the very earliest levels of education – i.e. in secondary schools in all socio-economic areas and countries, as well as undergraduates in medicine and biology.
b) Inform the public and their families about the wonders (and the importance) of the eye at outreach activities, e.g. museums, interacting with people of all ages, particularly the young school pupils and undergraduates in medicine and biology.
c) At the above events, provide flyers or interactive media, which show photos of women in vision and ophthalmology and people of diverse backgrounds, as surgeons or as leading lab scientists (not only as nurses), to provide an image of possible attainment to the audience.
Q2: What is your professional achievement you are most proud of?
Being awarded the Naumann Prize for Ophthalmic Pathology in 2018 in Barcelona at the WOC. This is given out only every 4 years, after selection by an international committee.
Q3: To what extent do you have to blend your personal and your professional life to achieve a balance? What should change?
My professional and personal lives do indeed blend: it is difficult sometimes to draw boundaries between the two, particularly during the covid pandemic when virtual meetings are scheduled at all hours of the day! And yet it is important to do so, to maintain the success of both. One way I try to achieve a balance is by undertaking a range of outdoor activities – e.g. cycling or walking – which takes me away from my desk and enables me to be ‘unplugged’ for at least an hour a day!
Q4: The next time you talk to a 12-year-old girl who shows a passion for science and medicine, what would you most want her to know?
I would want her to know that it is not only possible for her to have such a career, but she could also be the best and a leader in either of these fields.
Prof. Sarah Coupland, MBBS, PhD, FRCPath
George Holt Chair of Pathology
Consultant Histopathologist @ Liverpool Clinical Laboratories
Vice President for Communications, Royal College of Pathologists
Lead of the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Research Group (LOORG)
With restrictions eased Sarah finally gets to meet our wonderful donors from the charity Wendy's Wish. Whilst in Yorkshire Prof Sarah Coupland visited Bill and Jill Harker at their home on 16 August to deliver more clothes for their charity, and to personally thank them for the incredible amount raised so far.
Bill and Jill are photographed (left) in front of a forest pansy planted in memory of their daughter Wendy who lost her life to metastatic uveal melanoma in 2017.
Once again, a sincere thank you, to both yourselves and all your donors for continuing to support LOORG so generously.
The Power List 2021
Welcome to our annual celebration of the great and inspirational minds that underpin the medical laboratory
The Power List 2020
From motivating mentors to trailblazing innovators, social media gurus to laboratory medicine heroes, it is the inspirational individuals who make laboratory medicine such a fantastic field. You nominated and our expert judging panels deliberated – and now, we proudly showcase this diversity of talent in The Pathologist’s 2020 Power List.
The Power List 2019
Trailblazers of the Lab
Breakthroughs at the bench, in the clinic, and in every facet of the laboratory have helped diagnostic medicine grow from strength to strength. But whom do we have to thank for those breakthroughs? After months of collating reader nominations and judging by an expert panel, we proudly present The Pathologist’s 2019 Power List, featuring 100 of the industry’s top trailblazers.
On Thursday 29th July 2021, Unilever set a challenge to walk a half or full marathon to raise money for the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Research Group in loving memory of Renée Metroka.
Liverpool Ocular Oncology Research Group (LOORG) supports life-changing clinical research into the pathogenesis and treatment of adult ocular tumours to improve patient care and survival. Our journey began with LOORG over three years ago when we sadly lost our dear colleague Renée Metroka. In her memory, we wanted to create an event that reflects her personality and to raise funds for LOORG, who supported Renée and her family through a difficult time. We call this The Great Walk.
The Great Walk is an annual event, where Unilever come together to do good whilst doing good for others, by walking a full or half marathon and raising money for charity. In two years, Unilever have raised more than £100,000, connected over 500 walkers from across our UK & Ireland sites, and increased awareness of the pioneering research by LOORG.
Your sponsorship means so much to us. Thank you!
Sitting Down With… Sarah Coupland, Professor and George Holt Chair of Pathology at the University of Liverpool, leader of the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Research Group, and Honorary Consultant Histopathologist at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, UK
What inspired you to the ophthalmic field?
My father was a medical oncologist and my mother was a nurse, so I grew up with “medical speak” over the dinner table – it became second nature to me. After graduating from medicine in Sydney, Australia, I moved to Berlin, Germany, and began a PhD in ophthalmology. I examined the immune mechanisms involved in corneal rejection, which meant performing corneal transplants in rats followed by histological and immunohistological examination of their eyes. And that’s how I rediscovered my enthusiasm for the morphological understanding of disease mechanisms.
After completing my PhD, I did a three-month elective with William Lee in Glasgow,UK – a period during which I finally made the decision to specialize in histopathology.
I then spent seven years training in general pathology with Harald Stein at the Charité Benjamin Franklin in Berlin – at that time a referral centre for lymphomas, head and neck surgery and ophthalmic tumors – and emerged with a number of pathology subspecialties under my belt.
You make it sound straightforward, but there were a few “bumps in the road…”
I’ve not encountered what I would consider true adversity, but I have experienced a number of challenges along the way. Learning German in my mid-twenties to a sufficient standard to work as a pathologist, write complicated medical reports, and teach students was particularly demanding. To complicate things further, human anatomy in the German medical system is still described in Latin, so I had to learn that as well!
The most dramatic (and literal) bump in the road was my pregnancy with triplets near the end of my pathology training. Unfortunately, my contract was due to end during my maternity leave, and there was concern that I would have a job to return to, in order to complete my training! Luckily, I was able to organize a phased return to work and I completed my training, two years after the children’s birth (despite the complication of HELLP syndrome (severe pre-eclampsia), which put all four of us in intensive care for a few weeks). After my final exams, I went on to submit my
Associate Professor thesis, becoming the first female “Privat Dozent” from the Stein lab.
I went on to submit my Associate Professor thesis, becoming the
first female “Privat Dozent” from the Stein lab.
What is unique about ophthalmic pathology?
As an ophthalmic pathologist concentrating on ocular oncology, I interact closely with clinical teams. Ophthalmological diagnoses are very reliant on morphology and images. The beauty of the eye – and the surrounding structures – is the ability to see many pathologies in situ in the patient, which can allow for easier interpretation of the samples. That being said, many cases are difficult because the eye samples can
be tiny! For example, intraocular biopsies of the choroid or vitreous can be very demanding; one is expected to ‘squeeze out’ as much information as possible: morphology, immunophenotype, and genotype.
My favorite aspect of the work is making a difficult diagnosis in a timely manner to improve a patient’s outcome. The typical scenario would be a vitreous biopsy for suspected vitreoretinal lymphoma. These are notorious for the fragility of the tumor cells and the relatively high rate of non-diagnostic samples. By working closely with the vitreoretinal surgeons, we have been able to make recommendations with respect to how the sample is taken, transported, and processed in the lab to improve the diagnostic yield. And that is essential because vitreoretinal lymphomas are highgrade tumors where diagnostic delays must be avoided.
If you could change one aspect of your field, what would it be?
I was taught that the pillars in the understanding of medicine are the “three Ps”: pathology, physiology and pharmacology. If we are to make progress in the understanding of the pathogenesis, prevention and treatment of disease, we have to invest in these cornerstones of scientific medicine. Academic pathology is one of the most fragile subspecialties in medicine at present, and we have to increase awareness of its importance and create initiatives to make it attractive and prevent its complete disappearance.
What can be done to make the ophthalmic field more diverse?
Surgical specialties all suffer from a male/female imbalance. This may be due unconscious bias within the individual, society, and within institutions. The issue must be addressed head-on, with women of all backgrounds being encouraged to enter ophthalmology and associated specialties, to take this career into consideration even when they are at secondary school before progressing into medicine at university. Through programs such as Women in Vision UK and ARVO’s Women’s Leadership Development Program, women can be supported through their entire clinical and research careers. Mentorship programs or networks should also be available, acting as a buddying system, so that women can tap into these whenever problems arise. Finally, male colleagues should be made aware of what obstacles are still present for progression of female ophthalmologists, and should be enlisted to help overcome these.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
Receiving the ICO’s Award for Ophthalmic Pathology in 2018 at the World Ophthalmological Congress in Barcelona. This award is given out only every four years to someone who has consistently supported training and research in Eye Pathology. It was instigated by the late Gottfried (Fritz) and his wife, Lieselotte Naumann, of Erlangen, Germany, and involves an international competitive selection process. Together with William Lee from Glasgow, Naumann was one of my mentors during my training as an eye pathologist. To be chosen amongst the previous awardees was a great honour for me.
How has your life changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has actually brought me closer to my research team. I used to rush between buildings, cities, and countries – but a lot of time can be saved through virtual platforms. I see my students and post-docs significantly more regularly than before.
If you could go back in time to give yourself some advice, what would
Pick your battles. Don’t waste time on things that take you away from science. And don’t spend too much time writing long emails!
Outside of work, what makes you happy?
My three children make me very happy and proud, and beyond them, I very much enjoy cycling, walking, photography, music, and delicious seafood (cooked by my husband)!
Well done Team LOORG! - members completed a 13mile walk on Sunday 18 July one the hottest days this year! Despite the heat there were smiles all round at the finish line. Many thanks to all those who took part and if you would like to donate please click here
LOORG team clocked up miles in support of this years Great Walk 2021 hosted by Unilever in London on the 29th July 2021 raising money for the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Research Group in loving memory of their dear colleague Renée Metroka.
We would like to wish good luck to all the Unilever employees taking part in the main event next week.
University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University has invited four recognised experts in their fields as visiting professors.
The expertise in the Flagship will be strengthened by Professor Petter Brodin, Professor Sarah Coupland, Dr Simon Goodman, and Professor Reijo Salonen. Their terms will last until the end of 2024. See full article