Cell Therapy Virtuoso

Sitting Down With... Catherine Bollard, President of the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT).

February 2017

What inspired you to follow a medical career?

When I was 18 years old, I had to decide between medical school or opera singing. I chose medicine, thinking that I could revisit singing after qualifying – and I continued my voice training throughout medical school. After obtaining my medical degree, I moved to London to continue my opera training at Guildhall. But my husband was a musician too, and it was hard for a couple of poor musicians to live in London! I did a locum at St Bartholomew’s in pediatric hematology and oncology – and I absolutely loved it. One day, when I was exhausted after being on call for 96 hours, my music teacher told me that I had to give up medicine. Medicine or singing? It was heart-wrenching, but I opted for medicine. I still keep up the music as a hobby – and I think the characteristics of a good doctor are similar to those of a good musician: one fixes the body and the other mends the soul.