Our History

Written by Helen McKinnon, Founder and first President of ISOPP and other contributors

ISOPP brings together dedicated professionals to share their knowledge, support clinical research and improve cancer treatment for patients around the world. It has a rosy future for its members, the best reward ever for its founder.

Below is a timeline of our history and achievements and a listing of Past Presidents.

1986: Helen McKinnon took leave from her work as an oncology pharmacist at Waikato Hospital in New Zealand to study the work of oncology pharmacists in USA and the UK. She was humbled by the very sincere welcome and help that she was given by pharmacists at each institution she visited. On the flight home, she dreamed of bringing those pharmacists together to share their knowledge and expertise with others.

1988: Helen McKinnon’s vision became a reality when the first International Symposium on Oncology Pharmacy Practice was held in Rotorua, New Zealand. One hundred and fifty people attended the Symposium, some of whom have attended all subsequent ISOPP Symposia. At the closing ceremony of this first meeting, which had proved so successful and valuable, Helen (who chaired the organizing committee) issued a challenge to overseas attendees to continue the concept of international oncology pharmacy meetings.

1990: It was Graham Sewell who responded to that challenge and organised the second symposium in Exeter, UK. Graham also devised the name "ISOPP II" for that meeting. Our ISOPP acronym has been used with pride ever since.

1993: The third Symposium, organised by Larry Broadfield, was held in Toronto, Canada, and it was at this meeting that the ISOPP Advisory Board was formed. This Board (Helen McKinnon, Chair, with Rosemary Bacovsky, Larry Broadfield, Bill Dana, Mel Davis, Rebecca Finley, Jim Koeller, Terry Maunsell, Klaus Meier and Graham Sewell) initiated and developed the notion of ISOPP becoming an incorporated Society. The Constitution and Rules were formulated over the next two years.

1995: At ISOPP IV, in Hamburg, Germany, ISOPP was launched as the International Society of Oncology Pharmacy Practitioners. Helen McKinnon was appointed Chair of the Interim Secretariat. The first Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice, subsequently known as JOPP, was published, with Barry Goldspiel, USA, as Editor and Graham Sewell, UK, as Associate Editor. Klaus Meier developed the first ISOPP logo.

1996: ISOPP was incorporated under German law by Klaus Meier.

1997: Our first elections were held. At ISOPP V in Sydney, Australia, organised by Terry Maunsell, Helen McKinnon was inaugurated as President. Klaus Meier developed the original website at www.isopp.org.

1998: The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, through Eleanor Hawthorne, President, presented an ISOPP Presidential Stele to Helen McKinnon to be handed to subsequent incoming ISOPP Presidents.

1999: The first ISOPP Newsletter was published with Jill Davis as editor. The first Australasian Regional Symposium was held in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia.

2002: The Publisher and Editorial Board of JOPP instituted two Best Paper Awards, one in Research and the other in Pharmacy Practice.

2003: The new ISOPP logo was released. Inaugural awards and grants including the ISOPP Research Awards, the Helen McKinnon Award, the Achievement Award, the Fellowship Award and Travel Grants were presented.

2006: Robert McLauchlan, Johan Vandenbroucke and Thomas Connor completed the ISOPP Standards of Practice. JOPP achieved indexing by Medline.

2010: The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP – USA and Canada) and ISOPP began the development of a new self-assessment tool for the evaluation of oncology medication safety.

2014: The new ISOPP logo and website were released. The ISOPP logo represents our organization’s past, present and future. It is an abstract representation of the ribbon and the serpent (elements from the previous logo), shaped to encircle and protect the globe. The logo was designed to demonstrate the possibility of the vessel providing resources for oncology pharmacists around the world to help individuals with cancer live better lives. The whole is a very deliberate and organized form, created to convey knowledge and wisdom, as well our Society's mission and vision.

The most recognizable iconic imagery in pharmacy is the Bowl of Hygieia. This symbol is a bowl or goblet with a snake wrapped around the base. The ribbon represents oncology. Add to this some form of global imagery to reflect the international scope of the Society, and we have the key elements we needed to build our brand.

The new logo has an updated look and a modern flair that captures the essence of the Society's mission. At the same time, it is designed to carry forward the familiarity and power from the original ISOPP logo. The colour palette is similar. The lavender is borrowed from the ribbon associated with cancer while the green is a color associated with nature – the source of many medications.

2016: In 2016 ISOPP turned 20 and if you thought we wouldn’t take full advantage of the opportunity to celebrate, you thought wrong. The big party happened at ISOPP 2016 in Chile (of which more in a moment), but we’re also celebrating our anniversary throughout the year. We want as many people as possible to know about the exceptional work ISOPP has done in the past two decades to promote and enhance the practice of oncology pharmacy as well as our exciting plans for the future. And so to Chile, where oncology pharmacy practitioners gathered in Santiago to hear about the history of our organization from its founder Helen McKinnon, enjoy the local food and wine, and watch performers from the Ballet Folklórico Antumapu, an outstanding artistic dance company dedicated to preserving Chilean folk culture. Oh, and you can’t have a party without cake. So, naturally, we made sure there was plenty on hand. 


Past Presidents


2020 - 2022: Shaun O'Connor, Australia
2018 - 2020: Alex Chan, USA

2016 - 2018: Harbans Dhillon, Malaysia

2014 – 2016: Moe Schwartz, USA
2012 – 2014: John Wiernikowski, Canada
2010 – 2012: Johan Vandenbroucke, Belgium
2006 – 2010: Carole Chambers, Canada
2004 – 2006: Graham Sewell, UK
2002 – 2004: Barry Goldspiel, USA
2000 – 2002: Larry Broadfield, Canada
1998 – 2000: Klaus Meier, Germany
1995 – 1998: Helen McKinnon, New Zealand