Advocacy Working Group – Biographies

Helena Ullgren, Sweden (Co-Chair)
Helena has been an oncology nurse since 1995, and has regional responsibility for head & neck cancer in Sweden, Regional Cancer Center, Stockholm-Gotland. She is also a nurse leader in research and development in the cancer clinic at Karolinska Comprehensive Cancer Centre. Helena has an MSc in palliative care and is a PhD student at Umeå University. She is the president of the Swedish Cancer Nursing Society, with a special interest in advocacy. Personal interests are symptom management, integration, health care systems and patient safety.

Merel van Klinken, the Netherlands (Co-Chair)
Merel van Klinken graduated as a nurse in 2006. She has been working as a registered oncology nurse since 2009 and is currently also working as a palliative care nurse in a specialised oncology hospital in the Netherlands. She holds an MSc in nursing sciences and is looking to improve the quality of palliative care in her own hospital setting and in the Netherlands. She’s passionate about safety for patients and nursing staff and building resilience among young cancer nurses. She teaches within the speciality training for cancer nurses in her own hospital. Merel has been an Executive Board member since February 2021.

Dr Lena Sharp, Sweden (Co-Chair)
Lena Sharp is the Head of Cancer Care improvement, Regional Cancer Center, Stockholm, Sweden. She was previously the Chief Nursing Officer and Patient Safety Coordinator at the Department of Oncology, Karolinska University Hospital and has a long experience in cancer nursing, clinical work, leadership, teaching and research. Lena’s main research focus is Health Care Communication and Patient Safety. Lena has a PhD from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden. Lena is the current Advocacy Working Group Chair and Past President of the European Oncology Nursing Society.

Fernanda Conceição, Portugal
Fernanda has been a cancer nurse since 2004. She worked in the Portuguese Oncology Institute, Lisbon, until 2016. During that time she postgraduated in Oncology Nursing in 2008. In 2016, she moved to the oncology clinical center at the Champalimaud Foundation. Progressing to a leadership role as head nurse in the critical and recovery area, she is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Healthcare Management. She is also focused on the promotion of patient- and family-centered quality care and the better performance of teams. The impact of health financing and promotion/prevention policies is a growing interest.

Dimitrios Protogiros, Greece
Dimitrios is a cancer nurse and holds an MSc in Oncology Nursing and Palliative Care. He has worked in different areas of cancer nursing, clinically and as a researcher, and was actively involved in the education of undergraduate nursing students in Greece. Since 2020, Dimitrios has been involved in major national projects for the control and management of the COVID-19 pandemic and the reform of the primary health care in his country. He serves as a board member in national Nursing and interprofessional health care societies for the progression and recognition of cancer nursing and palliative care in Greece. He is an alumni of the European Cancer Leagues’ Youth Ambassador programme, and he is the representative of the Advocacy Working Group in the EONS Young Cancer Nurses Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @demetrios_gr

Dr Julio Cesar de la Torre, Spain
Julio de la Torre works as Associate Professor at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Spain. He was previously Study Coordinator and Study Nurse at the Department of Oncology, Hospital Clinico San Carlos and he has experience in cancer nursing (chemo administration from 1998), research and educational programs. Julio’s main work focus is patient quality of life, safety, experimental drugs, and access to medicine. He is a board member at Spanish Society of Oncology Nursing and the director of SEEO Official Journal. You can follow Julio on twitter at @julio_delatorre

Gianluca Catania, Italy
Gianluca graduated as a nurse in 1996. He worked as a registered oncology nurse since 1997 in inpatient and outpatient units. In 2006, he held a master’s degree in oncology and palliative nursing care, and he started working as a research nurse. For 5 years he took care of lung cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials. Then he moved to the palliative care area and focused his PhD program on improving quality of life of patients with palliative care needs. In 2014, he started his academic career at the University of Genoa (Italy) and ever since, in addition to all his teaching commitments he has conducted many research studies in the field of healthcare quality and safety, and palliative and cancer nursing care with a history of over 90 publications in peer reviewed journals. In 2017, he was granted with the Fulbright Research Scholarship from the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission and moved to Philadelphia where he worked with Professor Linda Aiken and her staff at the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research (CHOPR) at the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. At the moment, Gianluca is Assistant Professor at the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Genoa and Senior Fellow at the CHOPR University of Pennsylvania (USA).

Nuno Salgado, Portugal
Nuno is a registered nurse, specialised in psychiatry and mental health nursing, with a master’s degree in health sociopsychology, a graduation in citizenship, violence and intervention and a differentiated added competence in clinical supervision conferred by the Portuguese council of nursing. Currently he is researching for a master’s in psychiatry and mental health nursing. He has worked at the radiotherapy department of the Portuguese Oncology Institute, in Coimbra, since 2007 and has also collaborated with the Nursing School of Coimbra since 2014. Scientific Interests: symptom management, psycho-oncology, integrative nursing, complementary and alternative medicines, promotion of psychological wellbeing and advocacy.

Ana Rita Dias, Portugal
Ana Rita started working as a nurse in 2005 in the surgery area, but her major interest has always been the empowerment of those undergoing oncology treatment, their family and others close to them during the transition to home care, which ultimately led to change her intervention area. Since 2011, after finishing her specialised training and master’s degree in oncology, she started working as a cancer nurse in the haematology-oncology department at Centro Hospitalar Universitário de Lisboa Central, E.P.E. – Pólo Hospital Santo António dos Capuchos. Although her major interest is cancer nursing – reflected in several projects which she is involved in and managing – she maintains interests in other areas such as clinical supervision, in which she is a postgraduate.