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Non-profit organization committed to improvement and dissemination of knowledge regarding the pathology and pathophysiology of renal disease


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion



September: Women in Medicine Month

Dear RPS members,

In 2022, the RPS would like to focus on embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion; and on broadening our international network.  One way to achieve this goal is to celebrate a semi-monthly calendar of observances and appreciations with 10-question interviews highlighting our diverse pool of members. 

This month we have two reasons to celebrate!  We retroactively celebrate Women in Medicine Month (September) and Global Diversity Awareness Month (October) with our longtime RPS member and current president, Dr. Ingeborg Bajema.  Dr. Bajema was recently appointed a full professorship in nephropathology at University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands.  The actual date of the appointment was 1st October: Diversity Day!

Women in Medicine Month | American Medical Association (ama-assn.org)

Global Diversity Awareness Month - The Diversity Movement


Please find her interview below:

 1. What is your name, where were you born, where do you work?

My name is Ingeborg Bajema, I was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and as mentioned in the introduction, I just took up a new position as professor in nephropathology in Groningen, the Netherlands.  

 

2. What is your number one topic of interest in nephropathology?

My focus has always been on ANCA-associated glomerulonephritis and lupus nephritis, but I also have a broad interest in immune mediated renal diseases in general. Much of my research is about classifying disease and how findings in the renal biopsy can contribute to patient management and outcome.

 

3. What is the thing you like most about your job?

The thing I like most is probably the continuous interaction with the nephrologists to discuss biopsy findings in relation to their clinical questions. I am convinced that patients will have a huge benefit from a good relationship between clinicians and pathologists, and finding out what the significance is of tissue changes in combination with clinical findings is always an exciting exercise.

 

4. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Time management! I really love my job, and I get enthusiastic about new projects quite easily – but finding the time to complete them can be challenging.

 

5. What did you want to become when you were a child?

I always wanted to become a physician – I think it had to do with my grandmother being admitted to hospital when I was 3 years old. She had a heart-attack and we were very worried about her. I was fascinated by everything the doctors and nurses were doing for her – and she lived for another 10 years afterwards and became 89.

 

6. What would be your wish for the future - in general or in relation to your work?

The ‘if you could make a wish question’… In relation to work, I would say my wish would be that we find the ultimate cure for kidney disease. The burden of end-stage renal failure is an underestimated issue and we must strive continuously to give our patients a better perspective.

 

7. Any special interests apart from Nephropathology?

Workwise: No! The kidney is my absolute favorite subject of the pathology field.

 

8. How do you think Pathology will look like in 10 years’ time? 

We are about to go through an enormous change because of the developments in artificial intelligence. There is a rapidly expanding literature showing how fast this field is moving, and I am sure that new techniques that have relevance for nephropathology will soon be implemented in our daily work. Although I think we could benefit from this and that it will make our work easier if we do not have to count glomeruli anymore or determine percentages of infiltrates and IFTA, I am also afraid that it may lead to a loss of human capacities and perhaps a loss of knowledge. Once we get used to rely on the data that will be provided to us in a split-second, we may invest less and less in how to identify certain tissue changes ourselves. But time will tell.

 

9. Who would you consider to be your mentor in renal pathology or pathology in general?

My mentor in renal pathology is Prof. Jan Bruijn. From the moment I attended one of his lectures in my second year of medical training, I became fascinated by renal pathology because of his very enthusiastic teaching, and working with him over the years – first as a PhD-fellow and later as a colleague - has always been a great pleasure. He is an excellent pathologist and has a very good view on how to perform research and how to educate our fellows.

 

10. What is your favorite non-work-related activity or way to spend your time?

We live near the sea, and love to take our golden retriever to the beach every weekend. I very much enjoy to see how the seaside changes through the seasons, and no matter what the weather is like, the sights are always beautiful. My other passion is gardening and I get lots of joy out of growing my own tomatoes, corn, beans, and cucumbers.

 

Bonus Question:   What have you found most challenging about developing your career as a woman in medicine?

Probably the most difficult issue about the position of women in medicine, is that it is considered a non-existing or otherwise “solved” problem.  The topic of equal rights for women has a ring of something from the past: women suffragettes from the 19th century and Dutch ‘Dolle Mina’s’ from the 1960s.  This surely sounds as if the battle must have been won by now. But this is overlooking that, in Europe, women are paid on average 15% less than men for equal job positions.   At universities in the Netherlands, only 25% of professors are women.  We now have 54% female students and 44% female PhD-fellows. Recent figures indicate that we will reach an equal number of male and female professors in 2040, and this will be driven mostly by the surplus of women on other levels – which questions whether equal numbers by 2040 represent real equality. Psychologists point out that when we make choices for job positions or otherwise, we subconsciously tend to choose someone similar to ourselves, and this could contribute to lack of diversity in general. It was therefore that I asked RPS membership at the beginning of 2022 to look around and choose ‘someone else’ – to become a member, a colleague or otherwise. It is all about daring to be different! 




About RPS


The RPS promotes excellence in diagnosis, fosters basic, clinical and translational research, encourages training and education in renal disease, sponsors US based and international conferences and symposia, and brings news and updates pertaining to renal pathology to its members around the world.

Mailing address:

1440 W. Taylor St. # 734, Chicago, IL USA, Fax: (312) 281-0029


Contacts



Office of the Secretary

Mei Lin Z. Bissonnette MD PhD
secretary@renalpathsoc.org

Office of the Treasurer

Kuang-Yu Jen, MD, PhD
treasurer@renalpathsoc.org


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