ESMO: Tell us a bit about your career so far
Kevin: I graduated as MD in 2010 at the Catholic University of Leuven. I did my residency Internal Medicine in University Hospitals Leuven and ZNA Jan Palfijn Antwerp, and finished my specialization in medical oncology at University Hospitals Leuven in 2016 where after I started as staff member medical oncology at the department of General Medical Oncology in University Hospitals Leuven. During my fellowship I was deeply involved in clinical cancer research through participation in multiple Phase 1-3 trials in solid tumor, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Patrick Schöffski. I attended the 2017 ECCO-AACR-EORTC-ESMO Workshop in methods on clinical cancer research in Zeist, which was an amazing experience in all aspects and led to a currently ongoing global phase III EORTC trial for which I serve as young principal investigator.
What is your current activity?
My main areas of interest in my current function as staff member are early and metastatic breast cancer and hereditary cancer syndromes. The multidisciplinary breast clinic of our hospital is led by my mentor Prof. Dr. Hans Wildiers, and is the largest breast clinic in Belgium with >650 new breast cancer patients yearly, with a very active clinical trial unit participating in >30 breast-specific clinical trials and involved in the majority of landmark Phase III trials in early and advanced breast cancer. My focus as principal investigator is triple negative breast cancer. Next to my clinical activities, I am currently working on a PhD with focus on single-cell multiomics in early triple-negative breast cancer.
Besides my involvement in the ESMO Young Oncologists and Resilience Task Force Committees, I am also an elected board member of the Belgian Society of Medical Oncology (BSMO) and active member of the EORTC Young Breast Group.
What motivates you?
The attracting fast pace of scientific progress in oncology, the ability to offer patients promising drugs in clinical trial setting and the boundless courage and gratitude patients can express towards treating oncologists.
Already in the first years of medical school, the treatment goals pursued in oncology seemed highly relevant to me compared to other areas medicine. I had a challenging but very fruitful scientific seminar led by Prof. Dr. Hans Wildiers where after my choice was clear to me. Regarding patient interaction, oncology is a specialty with an intense interaction between the patient and treating physician, which also was an appealing aspect to me.
What does your involvement with ESMO and the Young Oncologists Committee (YOC) mean to you?
Besides the unique educational opportunities ESMO offers, plenty of networking possibilities are offered by participation at ESMO events and online services as OncologyPro. Participation in the YOC intensifies the networking options which opens doors for collaborative research, and get me involved in the educational aspects of upcoming ESMO congresses and several other relevant professional opportunities within or outside ESMO.
Do you have some good advice you would like to share with your international colleagues?
Try to take enough time for communication with your patients and their families, it really makes a world of difference to the ones coping with the disease in all its aspects.