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Tribute to Dr Peter Sjöblom

Judith Menezes

Fertilitetscentrum Stockholm, Sweden

17 November 2012

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I had the pleasure of working with Peter Sjoblom in my early years as an embryologist.  I remember meeting him at my job interview at IVF East in Sydney back in 2000 and my first impression was that he seemed so calm, friendly and a very comfortable person to be around.  It was in our working years together following this initial meeting that I found Peter wasn't only one of the nicest people I'd ever met, but also a scientist with a huge amount of knowledge and integrity.

He has shaped me into the scientist I am today and I credit him with setting the high level of work ethics and dedication that I strive to work towards.  He valued honesty, accountability, respect and making sure all work of an embryologist was done in the best interest of the patient.  I hope I have been able to pass on these ideals to other scientists I have trained over the years as they have always been important to me in my work.  I'm very grateful I was able to be influenced by Peter professionally so early in my career.  He was a wonderful man and good friend.
Lisa Cummins, IVFAustralia, Australia

It was a huge shock to hear the news that Dr. Peter Sjoblom had passed away. To recollect my memories........ I first met him at the FSA conference in Melbourne .He was very soft spoken and the first impression that I got was that he was a polite person who was very down to earth sort of personality. When I moved with my family to Australia  I had applied for a position in IVF East in Sydney. I received a letter of offer signed by Peter who was the Scientific Director of the clinic.  After a while I joined IVF East and was blessed to work with Peter for few years.  He never approached us as a boss. He was a real people person as he respected everyone and tried to do the best for others. He was easy to approach for any discussion. It was the real memorable period in my life as I worked with Peter and the wonderful team. I still treasure these memories. He was knowledgeable, helpful and taught us a lot in managing the lab. He appreciated us and made us feel valuable. Though he moved to Sweden later I continued to have contacts with him. He always advised me to walk towards danger without any fear. He was a mentor all the while in my life as he was for many others. I met him in Sweden during ESHRE meeting in 2011 and I never had a clue that he is going to be missed so soon. I was devastated by the news that he is no more. I still can’t believe it. He even replied to my e-mail just few weeks before his final moments. His nature was very well seen by this act and was admirable. My family and I feel very sad to miss Peter, a friend, a philosopher and a fantastic human being we were lucky to know in our lifetime. He still lives with us in memories. Our deepest sympathy for his family.
Lakshmi Mathialagan, Fertility East, Australia

I first met Peter when he came to work at IVF East and the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney. He was a quiet and thoughtful person who was always happy to impart his knowledge to those around him.
Peter and Yvonne were very welcoming went I went to Sweden and were wonderful hosts at many a dinner and great tour guides. Visiting the clinic I experienced firsthand “fika” which Peter had first introduced me to in Sydney.
 Peter always tried to make you think and work beyond what you thought you could and encouraged you to do more. This was one of his finest qualities, always encouraging those around him.
 I will always remember him with a smile.
 Sandra Emerson, Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney, Australia
Thinking of Peter Sjöblom I feel warmth and gratitude. He was my boss at the  IVF department at Karolinska Hospital,  Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden in the 90s and a dear friend. Everything I've learned about IVF I've learned from him and his wife Yvonne.
He was not only a kind and caring person (he supported me during a private crisis of mine) but he also had a wonderfull sense of humour. He was definitely not an ordinary boss!
Peter has my huge admiration for his knowledge and expertise and for his strength in struggling against his illness. 
Thinking of Peter today I feel sorrow and despair, but the feelings of warmth and gratitude will win. My heart goes out to Yvonne and Yvette.
Regula Balteschwiler, Switzerland

Throughout one’s career, one meets many people however few become true inspirators. Peter Sjöblom has been and always will be, one of these unique people who are an inspiration to me.  I met Peter when he was Managing Director at the Fertility Center (Fertilitetscentrum ) in Stockholm 2009.  Peter was not only Managing Director but also head of the lab. I am a gynecologist and, at the time we met, had a little over a year’s experience in the field of Reproductive Medicine. I had just begun my PhD work and was a little hesitant about accepting the position as it meant I would need to commute about 2 hours each direction daily. Many others I spoke with before accepting the position, praised Peter’s research and encouraged me to join him.
Though Peter and I only worked together half a year before he moved to Nottingham, I learned an amazing amount from him. He was very good at explaining the intricacies of embryology, making it seem easy. Peter was always very easygoing and open which made it very easy to ask any question and I learned quite a bit about IVF and embryology from him. Peter was always knowledgeable and up-to date about current IVF research which always made for very interesting discussions. Even though I was the youngest physician on staff, Peter always made sure I was included in discussion about such things such as ethics, business strategy, working conditions, etc. Thus, I learned not only quite a lot about embryology, I learned about ethics, how an IVF unit could be managed, etc. We also had many interesting discussions about research and Peter gave me excellent advice about my PhD work.
 Because Peter was so caring to everyone on staff, I feel that everyone working at the Fertilitetscentrum in Stockholm felt a part of the team. Though Peter was the Managing Director, it felt as if he was not only the boss but also a co-worker at the same time.  The atmosphere among  the staff was very open and everyone was encouraged by Peter to voice their opinion. He truly cared that everyone was happy in the workplace. He was able to avoid potential problems by coordinating with different staff members. He had an inspiring way of making everyone want to achieve their best. He was a unique boss as he could utilize the strengths in each of his staff members.
 He cared immensely for the couples we worked with and the embryos he was responsible for.  Peter was able to apply current research into the lab, making it one of the most modern labs in Sweden .  
We kept in touch sporadically after Peter moved to Nottingham. He continued to act as a mentor, always giving very good advice when needed. I will miss our friendship as it was always so easy just to pick up where we left off. His passion for learning and improving IVF in order to improve the lives of patients continues to inspire me in my work. He was a great role model. I will never forget how kind and generous he was to each and every one he met.
 I extend my deepest sympathies to Peter’s wife Yvonne and daughter, Yvette. I am truly thankful for Peter’s friendship and how he continues to inspire me.
Dr Sarah Nordqvist, Sweden

I felt privileged knowing Dr. Peter Sjöblom.  As part of Professor Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson’s research group at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm,  I  enjoyed the research collaboration  I had with him, which was initiated when he was Scientific Director at Fertilitetscentrum,Stockholm. This collaboration is still continuing and is growing strong with the years. It was always enjoyable discussing the challenges faced in IVF and infertility with Peter. He was there always with a smiling face to share his knowledge, give critical analysis during scientific discussions and help whenever there was an opportunity, even after he left for  Nottingham, UK. We will miss him terribly. Our sincere sympathies go out to his family.
 Dr. Lalit Kumar, Stockholm, Sweden
Peter Sjöblom was the laboratory chief when I started my career as an embryologist at Karolinska Hospital Fertility center,Hudddinge , Stockholm.He was the best chief you could find, always standing up for his colleagues and coworkers. He was always so jovial, joking and laughing! Peter had tremendous knowledge of fertility treatments, gametes and the lab. When he moved to Australia I could always turn to him with my questions. He helped me a lot when I moved to another clinic and needed help and guidance. We lost a very nice, wise and wonderful man all too early. He still had so much left to give to the world. We miss him very much!
Sirpa Lundman, IVF kliniken ,Stockholm , Sweden
The passing away of Dr Peter Sjöblom, Unit Manager, NURTURE, Nottingham, has left a huge void in the lives of many. He meant so much for so many people.  I was privileged to know and work with him thanks to Embryo Mail. Several years ago when I was looking out for a job as an embryologist when I moved to Australia, one of my Embryo Mail friends, Regula Balteschwiler, who was his former colleague at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, insisted that I get in touch with him and his wife Yvonne du Plessis, a former renowned embryologist who had worked with the pioneers of IVF in Australia. A few months later I was offered a job at IVF East where Peter was the Scientific director. I opted to work there even though I was offered another job with a much higher salary and I have never regretted my decision. Working with Peter was wonderful- he had the amazing ability to bring out the best in people.  Along with my fellow embryologists, Lisa Cummins and Laxmi Mathialagan, those were the golden years of our careers and we moved from strength to strength. Peter was so kind, caring and friendly and never behaved like a typical 'boss'. We enjoyed every moment that we worked with him and no work was 'too much'.  He had a wealth of knowledge and experience and together we were able to achieve remarkable improvements in the IVF lab as well as do research.

Another special quality of Peter's was his humility. He always admitted his mistakes and took responsibility for it. He was fearless and continuously strived for those who worked under him to have the best. He always acknowledged and appreciated every single contribution from his colleagues and friends.

Peter continued to be a mentor and friend even after he moved back to Melbourne and joined Monash as the Coordinator of the M.Sc program in Clinical Embryology.  Since there were many overseas students doing the course, Peter became a source of inspiration to them. They are all very indebted to him. Most of them  now have rewarding careers and have continued to stay in touch with him

I was even more fortunate as I was offered a job again some years later in Stockholm when Fertilitets Centrum, founded by Dr Matts Wikland opened a new clinic in Stockholm where Peter was Scientific Director.  Peter always advised me that having international experience working in the field of A.R.T was a huge asset. It was a difficult decision to make the move from Australia to Sweden, but  an opportunity I did not want to miss.  I moved to an entire new world of A.R.T. and Peter had the additional task of being my Swedish teacher as well. He put in tremendous effort to maintain the highest standards in the laboratory and the clinic which was evidenced by the results obtained.  Peter later became the Managing Director of the clinic as well and everyone who worked with him have been unanimous in saying that he was the best chief they have ever had.

After Peter moved to Nurture in Nottingham in 2009, we continued to keep in touch and collaborate. He always offered help when needed and continued to guide me and push me beyond my limits to do better. He also encouraged me to continue research alongside routine embryology work and present at international conferences like ESHRE.

It was a cruel stroke of fate that he was snatched away when at the peak of his career. He suffered bravely without complaining and continued working till the very end, which is something that amazed everyone. He did not want anyone to fuss over him just because he was ill and forced himself  to go about everything as normal. Only a person of his calibre could do that.

I  had the opportunity to visit Peter in Nottingham two months ago and also visit the NURTURE IVF lab which was impressive.  I knew it was probably the last time I would be seeing him and the picture of that early August morning when he stood with his wife and waved goodbye is imprinted in my memory.

Though Peter's passing away has left a terrible void in our lives, I am extremely grateful for all the years I knew him and worked with him. He was a wonderful mentor and friend. My deepest sympathies go out to his wife and daughter who have to come to terms with this unbearable loss.
Those of us whose lives have been touched by Peter will surely continue to strive in his footsteps.
Judith Menezes, Fertilitetscentrum, Sweden


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Date Added: 17 November 2012   Date Updated: 17 November 2012
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