Professor Rod Baber is Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Australia, the Editor-in-Chief of the Society’s journal, Climacteric, and Past President of the International Menopause Society.
I’ve been reading
I’ve been reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This book describes the sad tale of an African American woman who died of cervical cancer but whose donation of cells (unbeknown to her) prior to her death established the HeLa cell line, the oldest and still most commonly used immortal human cell line. Scientists are estimated to have grown over 20 tonnes of cells from HeLa for multiple scientific purposes, the first of which was the development of the Salk Polio vaccine. This prize-winning book is notable for its reflections on ethics as well as its ability to explain scientific processes to non-scientific readers.
We are about to start a mixed-methods multi-ethnic study on women’s experience of menopause and aging, in collaboration with The University of Tasmania.
My team is small but busy, comprising three consultant gynecologists with a particular interest in menopause, menstrual disorders, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, and psychosocial issues. We also have two research fellows and, most importantly, our Nurse coordinator without whom nothing would happen.
When I was a young research fellow, I presented a free communication at an international meeting on research that I had done with my boss. In the audience was one of my boss’s mortal enemies who, in question time, did his best to discredit everything I had said. After the session, as I sat shell-shocked in the auditorium, the chair of the session reminded me that ‘if you swim with sharks you must expect to get bitten’. It taught me not to take these things too personally or too seriously. It’s sometimes just part of a game.
An interesting case
All of our referrals are tertiary and all are ‘interesting’, but I think those which challenge me most are the women who need ongoing care after surviving hormone-dependent cancers. These women need a ‘conductor of the orchestra’ to balance the views, wishes and priorities of all the different health-care professionals involved in their ongoing care.
I'm worried about
I’m worried about running out of time – time to do all the work I still want to do, time to spend with my amazingly tolerant and loving wife and time to spend with children and grandchildren (still waiting for them).
I’ve been thinking
I’ve been thinking about how we might achieve more collaboration between scientific communities, groups and researchers, how we might celebrate the opportunity to investigate new and sometimes confronting areas of research and, of course, how we might funds those dreams.
In my spare time
Spare time means first and foremost family time, followed by exercise and golf – a good walk spoiled.
A thorn in my side
The thorn in my side is when individuals or groups confuse the positivity of our competitive nature, without which we would achieve very little, with the negativity of disruptive obstructive behavior and personal self-aggrandisement. We can all achieve more if we work together.
What challenges me
What challenges me most is fitting everything into my day, meeting my own, sometimes ridiculous expectations and finding the right balance between personal and professional life.