This year, as part of the ESO monthly newsletter, we are featuring individuals who have demonstrated enthusiasm and motivation to take on tasks, join a committee and make a mark on the organisation all while growing their careers.

Mirjam Heldner

This month we interviewed, Dr. Mirjam Heldner, Deputy Head Neurovascular Outpatients Clinics and Consultant Stroke Center at Inselspital, University Hospital of Bern. Mirjam is a member of the ESO Board of Directors as well as the Education Committee. In addition, she is co-organiser of the ESO Department to Department visits and ESO ESMINT ESNR Winter School at Inselspital.

When did you first join ESO? Was there a person or event that encouraged you to become a member?

I first joined the ESO as a junior member in its founding year. My supervisors and mentors have strong bonds with the ESO community. Therefore, it was natural for me to get involved in ESO at my early stroke career stage already and to participate at the ESO Stroke Summer School, which was a fantastic experience and definitely encouraged me to engage within the stroke field and within the ESO community in the years to come. As a young strokologist I was really delighted by the broadening of my horizon I experienced at the ESO Stroke Summer School. I enjoyed meeting many young strokologists from around Europe, many of which became good friends and collaborators. Also, the ESO Stroke Summer School revealed, that despite different cultures and backgrounds in different countries, we are all aiming for lowering the burden of stroke.

What are you currently working on that you would like to share?

I am currently working on different research projects, which are about cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, minor stroke, intracranial atherosclerosis, acute management or secondary prevention.

From a clinical point of view, I am deputy head of the neurovascular outpatient clinics at the Inselspital, at the University hospital of Bern. Also, I am teaching at the University of Bern (clinical and neurosonography skills training, tutorials, seminars).

At ESO, I am fellow and member of the education committee and of the board of directors. In those ESO positions, my priorities are the implementation of the ESO European Stroke Action Plan, secondary stroke prevention and promotion of junior strokologists – especially those from middle- and low-middle-income countries – and gender equity. I am also co-organiser of the ESO-ESMINT-ESNR Stroke Winter School and the ESO Department-to-Department visits at the University of Bern.

How do you balance ESO with your work and personal obligations?

I am curious, adventurous, persistent, open- and strong-minded, idealistic, genuine, ambitious and efficient. I enjoy the colorfulness, diversity, challenges, freedom and chances of my academic and ESO activities. My family, social network and hobbies are important for me. I like exploring and travelling worldwide – to broaden my horizon and to get insight into different cultures. I enjoy spending time in nature. I do sports, especially skiing, swimming and hiking. I enjoy thought-provoking conversations and lectures, visiting museums, reading good books of all sorts, attending cultural events and classical music concerts and taking photographs.

Do you have any advice for young researchers and physicians?

If you are naturally drawn towards engagement in the stroke field, just go for it.