ILA Board



Tobias Bertsch, President

MD, Dr. med. Dipl. Soz-päd.; Senior Consultant for Internal Medicine at the Foeldi Clinic in Germany, European Centre of Lymphology.

From 2016 to 2019 Dr. Bertsch served as a Secretary General of the German Society of Lymphology. In 2019 he was the Congress President of the German Congress of Lymphology. He is the founder of the International Lipoedema Association (ILA), a global network of renowned health care professionals from 22 countries, including Europe, Canada, the USA,  Australia and South America.

He has been an invited speaker at many prestigious conferences in Europe, the US, South America and Australia.  

Dr. Bertsch is the leading author of the article series "Lipoedema - myths and facts". These five articles have spread worldwide and contribute to an essential amount to the paradigm shift we currently see in diagnosis as well as in treatment of lipoedema. The former European Lipoedema Forum created a Consensus and Best Practice Document on Lipoedema which has been published in February 2020. Together with the psychologist Gabriele Erbacher, Dr. Bertsch also is lead author of the International Consensus Document on Lipoedema which was published in October 2020.

In 2012, Dr. Bertsch earned Specialist Certification of Obesity Professional Education (SCOPE), the only internationallyrecognized certification in obesity management for health care professionals. SCOPE was an outcome of the 2002 European Union Obesity Summit that highlighted the need to improve clinical management of obesity.

Dr. Bertsch works at the Foeldi Clinic in Germany, European Centre of Lymphology. In addition to the treatment of inpatients he offers outpatient consultations for patients with Lymphedema, lymphatic malformation and Lipedema - covered by the German health care insurances. He and his team consult with approximately 4000 patients per year.

Kristiana Gordon, Vice President

Dr Kristiana Gordon is a Consultant Physician and Associate Professor in Dermatology & Lymphovascular Medicine. She is Clinical Lead of the Lymphoedema Service at St George’s Hospital in London, where her team cares for thousands of patients with lymphoedema and lipoedema.  She is also a Foeldi-certified lymphoedema therapist.

Dr Gordon has completed a doctorate in the genetics of primary lymphoedema and imaging of the lymphatic system.  She continues to pursue her research interests within the rapidly developing field of lymphovascular medicine and lipoedema. She has been involved in several studies looking for a genetic cause of lipoedema. Her team’s recent research findings have been published and they continue to research this exciting aspect of lipoedema.

Dr Gordon is the patron of LipoedemaUK, and champions for women with lipoedema to receive an early diagnosis and management to reduce unnecessary suffering. She is involved with medical education and NHS / NICE consultations to raise awareness of lipoedema amongst the medical communities.

Denise Hardy, Patient Liaison

Denise has had an interest in the field of lymphology since 1984 when working in a local hospice, she realised that the distressing symptom of lymphoedema was widely ignored. By 1998 she had secured funding for the first purpose built lymphoedema clinic in the UK - over seeing treatment for patients suffering from lymphoedema of any pathology, and lipoedema.

She now works independently in the Northwest of the UK, setting up Kendal Lymphology Centre in 2005 where she has won numerous awards for her service and dedication to her work.

She is passionate about education and has presented widely; participated in various research trials and had numerous articles published. She is an active member of various groups including the Children’s Lymphoedema Special Interest Group (CLSIG); Lymphoedema Support Network (is a Trustee and Nurse Advisor); ILF and the BLS.

Being the co-chair of the UK Best Practice Guidelines for the Management of Lipoedema, she is privileged to have been one of the founder members of the International Lipoedema Association.

Robert J. Damstra, Treasurer

Robert J. Damstra works since 1992 as dermatologist at the Nij Smellinghe hospital Drachten (Netherlands) in a team with 6 dermatologists, 2 vascular surgeons and many paramedical specialists.

In 2009 he obtained his PhD with the thesis “diagnostic and therapeutical aspects of lymphedema” at Maastricht University (Prof. Dr. P. Steijlen).

 In 2005 he founded the Dutch expert centre for lympho-vascular diseases (ECL) in Drachten, which expanded to a centre with annual 500 new tertiary referrals, an outpatient clinic which thousands of patients, a clinical department for 12 patients providing both interdisciplinary diagnostics, operative and conservative treatments. He was chair of the first (2003), second (2014) Dutch guideline working group on lymphedema and in 2023 the third guideline is planned to be published.

In 2015 the ECL Drachten is recognized by the ministry of health as national expert centre for primary and paediatric lymphedema. The ECL became member of the European Reference Network (ERN) in the VASERN-group (See He is chair of the primary and paediatric working group (PPL-WG). Together with expert centres all over Europe they cooperate to enhance cross border healthcare, improve quality of care and provide information for patients in Europe. Multicentre research is planned. Finally, in 2021 he became member of the founding board of the International Lipoedema Association (ILA) and worked with other under the lead of T. Bertsch MD PhD on the European consensus document for lipoedema.

Ad Hendrickx, Scientific Committee

Ad is working as a physical therapist and researcher in the Dutch Center of Expertise for Lymphovascular Medicine in Drachten. He is specialized in lymph- and lipedema, geriatric related problems and chronic diseases. Related to chronic diseases his main focus is the group of patients with cancer related disabilities. As a researcher and board member of the Expert center, he is responsible for education, research & development.

One of his main achievements in the recent years was the introduction and implementation of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health in daily care in the Expert Centre and their network of care, including the use of customized clinimetrical instruments. Self-management and the optimalisation of interprofessional collaboration are other main fields of interest.

Ad has been a teacher at the Dutch Paramedic Institute since 2015. He has been a speaker and chair at conferences in Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the US. Cherry on the pie is his current appointment as a PhD candidate at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen. His research topics are related to lymph- and lipedema.

Ad was member of the working group for the development of the Dutch guidelines for lymphedema and lipedema in 2013 and 2014. He is a member of the Dutch Expert Group for Lipedema, the advisory board of NLNet, the Dutch Patient Association for lymph- and lipedema. Since 2018 he has been closely involved in the development of the European consensus document on Lipedema.

Gabriele Erbacher, Scientific Committee

Gabriele Erbacher is senior psychologist and psychotherapist. She treated cancer patients including patients with secondary lymphedema since 1995. Already in the last year of her studies at the University of Freiburg she carried out one of the first studies at that time examining the effectivity of an integrative and holistic approach in the rehabilitation treatment of cancer patients of the Tumor Biology Center Freiburg (Germany) – the results had been presented at the 3rd World Congress of Psycho-Oncology in New York in 1997.

Gabriele started her career at the institute for rehabilitation research and quality management Scheidegg and in parallel in the oncological Paracelsus Clinic in Scheidegg (Germany), where she offered psychotherapy to cancer patients as well as supervision for physio- and lymph therapists. Her special interest was - and still is - to improve treatment by practice-orientated research.

Since 2007 she is working in her own practice providing psychotherapy and supervision and workshops for therapists of several professions. Since 2013 she is a psychologist in the Foeldiclinic – European Center of Lymphology. Building on the results of her study on lipedema and pain Gabriele implemented the first psychologically guided group therapy model for lipedema patients. It is part of the interdisciplinary therapy concept of the Foeldiclinic based on the paradigm shift of the European Consensus on Lipedema.

She lectured nationally and internationally at various conferences e.g. in Poland, Switzerland, Great Britain and in the USA. Gabriele is the co-author of several articles she published together with Dr. Tobias Bertsch including the series of articles "Lipedema – myths and facts” and author of articles on lipedema and pain.

Since 2020 she has been a member of the steering group of the guideline commission ‘Lipedema’ of the DGP.

Guenter Klose, Education Committee

Guenter Klose received his initial training in Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) and Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) at the Földi Clinic, Hinterzarten, Germany. He continued there as therapist and instructor until he came to the United States in 1990 to assist Dr. Robert Lerner in training lymphedema therapists and establishing the first CDT treatment centers in the U.S. for patients with lymphedema.

In 2003, Guenter established his own lymphedema training and consulting company, Klose Training & Consulting, LLC dedicated to providing the highest-quality lymphedema therapy training available. Klose Training has since trained over 4000 therapists.

In 2010, Guenter began creating advanced online lymphedema treatment courses and has continued to innovate in the delivery of these courses. Guenter also organizes biennial lymphedema conferences that attract lymphedema experts from around the world.

Guenter is a leading advocate for quality lymphedema treatment. He has videotaped opinion pieces and patient stories and lectured extensively in the United States and abroad, at National Lymphedema Network (NLN) Conferences, therapist and physicians' meetings, and lymphedema support groups.

Guenter is a member of the ISL and a founding member of the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA) for which he served on the Board of Directors from 1999–2004.

Kathleen Francis, Education Committee

Dr. Francis received her medical degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.  She completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UMDNJ/Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, following a transitional internship at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

She is a diplomate of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

Until her retirement in 2020 Dr. Francis was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and had a private practice, Lymphedema Physician Services PC, in Livingston, NJ, specializing in evaluation and management of lymphedema, venous edema, and other forms of peripheral edema.  She also served as Medical Director of the St. Barnabas Lymphedema Treatment Center at the St. Barnabas Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, NJ.

Dr. Francis serves as Medical Director of Klose Training and Consulting LLC, a training and certification school for lymphedema professionals. She is also a member of the steering committee of the American Lymphedema Framework Project. She was a long-time member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the National Lymphedema Network and served as Chair in 2009-2010.

Dr. Francis has frequently appeared as an invited lecturer at lymphedema meetings and conferences throughout the United States.

Christine Moffatt, Board Member

Christine is Professor of Clinical Nursing Research at the University of Nottingham School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy and holds other visiting chairs at the University of Glasgow and Cardiff University Medical School Wound Healing Institute. She is also nurse consultant at the Royal Derby Foundation NHS Trust Lymphoedema service in which she leads a research team as well as undertaking a clinical consultancy role.

Christine is currently the Chair person and Director of the International Lymphoedema Framework. She has been involved in wound healing research and practice for 25 years and Lymphoedema for 10 years. She has undertaken extensive research in this field using mixed research methods including running national and international clinical trials.

Her areas of research include compression therapy; service development and evaluation; psychosocial impact of disease; chronic wounds and lymphoedema. She has presented and published internationally.

She was awarded a CBE in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List and made a life fellow of the Royal College of Nursing that same year. She has received several life time achievement awards in recognition of her work, the most recent being presented by the World Union of Wound Healing Societies in June 2008. In December 2008 she received a Nursing Times Diamond 20 Award as one of the 20 most influential nurses in the last 60 years.

Håkan Brorson, Board Member

Professor Håkan Brorson, MD, PhD is Senior Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden. He is Professor of plastic surgery at Lund university, Lund, Sweden and Professor at Esculera de Graduados, Asociación Médica Argentina (EGAMA), Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received his Medical Degree and PhD at Lund University. Specialist in orthopaedic and plastic surgery. American National Board Exam (VQE) 1983. Consultant plastic surgeon/licensed Surgeon to Children’s Hospital, Little Rock, Arkansas, 2003. Board certified, Board of Registration in Medicine, Massachusetts, USA and Faculty License, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, 2005 - 2006.

In 1987 he defended his thesis: Liposuction and Controlled Compression Therapy in the Treatment of Arm Lymphedema Following Breast Cancer in 1998. His research is focused on the formation and distribution of adipose tissue in lymphedema using CT, MR Imaging/Spectroscopy and Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry for gross anatomy; microarray and RT-PCR for genetic studies, as well as metabolomics and lipidomics as well as incidence of erysipelas after liposuction. He has trained several teams around the world to treat lymphedema with liposuction, a treatment that he developed over 30 years ago.

Scientific secretary 1998-2005, and President of the Swedish Association of Plastic Surgeons 2008-2010. Executive Committee member of the International Society of Lymphology, the European Society of Lymphology, and the Swedish Lymphology Society. Editor, co-editor, and editorial board member of 10 journals/books and referee to 41 journals.

He was President of the 29th Congress of the European Group Lymphology’s Congress 2003 and the 23rd World Congress of the International Society of Lymphology in 2011, both in Malmö, Sweden. President of the International Society of Lymphology 2013-2015.

In 2015 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and the same year awarded Outstanding Paper Presentation at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Plastic Surgery the Meeting.
Member of 12 International Advisory Boards. Special adviser to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, the Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care, the Danish Cancer Society, and the Swedish Cancer Society.

He has given 291 invited keynote lectures, master classes and invited lectures. He has received 21 national and international awards and is author and co-author of over 200 original papers, reviews and proceedings, editor/co-editor of 6 books, and author of 55 book chapters.

He has trained 42 teams around the world to treat lymphedema with liposuction.