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Welcome to part two of SDS career adviser Sue Berry's blog about her precision medicine placement. She learned so much we had to split her excellent insights in to two parts! Part one can be found here.  With John Swinney recently announcing a significant investment in this important area of healthcare, it's clear there will be some amazing career opportunities for digital humans in precision medicine going forward. 

The visit to the Imaging Centre of Excellence - ICE – in Glasgow gave me context of how precision medicine works in practice. The “triple helix” partnership a combination of the University, the NHS, and private industries, is unique.

As I walked through the campus, which is a part of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the towering cathedrals devoted to health care filled the skyline. The day consisted of meeting people with responsibilities for the research and innovations in precision medicine, with the aim of having a global impact on healthcare.

ICE is a key place for developing technologies that will stimulate economic growth in the life sciences cluster at QEUH. People working there introduced us to the fascinating worlds of science, innovation and medicine.

Prof David Porter spoke to us about MRI scanners, a bank of images depicting brain scans showed us the importance of artificial intelligence, motion correction and fast scanning methods taken by MRI scanners that aid diagnosis and treatments for patients.

scanner

His colleague Dr Graham Keith was working on the new 7 Tesla scanner . The scanner is one of the most advanced scanners in the world, and it looks at layers of neurons in the digital images allowing surgeons to see detail with incredible precision and accuracy.

In the adjacent area Dr Shajan Gunamony specialised in designing radio frequency coils for magnetic resonance imaging applications. Gleaming copper wires, circuitry and elaborate fusions and combinations are formed to create bespoke kits for recording brain images. As this is being written a person is being recruited as a Modern Apprentice into the intricacies of delicate welding and electronics to begin a unique career.

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"I feel I've lost touch with opportunities for our young people and become perhaps a little disillusioned. This placement has given me so much hope. It has shown me that with a solid STEM foundation people have such varied options open to them. But they need to be brave and open minded and reach out for opportunities with a growth mindset."
Teacher and placement participant
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Kirsten Flegal, a neuroscientist, was researching neuro imaging and provides links between clinical and translational applications. Part of her work is contributing to the development of interventions looking at cognitive defects in brain injuries, psychiatric disorders and normal ageing.

Prof Matthew Walters, Head of the Medical School spent time explaining to us about the recruitment of students and their subsequent training. It is highly  competitive, and care is taken to recruit from those who would normally have limited opportunities, but with the ability to succeed and flourish after the course.

It was both rigorous and fascinating as he compared training in the past with that of today, and the fast-changing face of medicine. In particular global links are now seen as essential, and students are encouraged to study in an overseas placement as part of the course.

medical dummy

Part of this training includes the simulation suite, a rather strange and surreal (but highly effective) world where lifelike dummies are used to recreate clinical situations so students can practice diagnosis and treatment before going on to a ward.

Marion Mitchell gave us a tour of the labs where machines scanned and analysed tissue samples, combined with powerful software, to extract information which would benefit the greater understanding of medical conditions. I was genuinely amazed at the volume and depth of work being done to combat disease.

John Zurowski is a project manager for the industrial centre for artificial intelligence research in digital diagnostics, otherwise known as iCAIRD. This Scottish centre of excellence focuses on the application of AI in digital diagnostics. AI enables better and earlier diagnosis, and the more efficient treatment for patients. It is also predicted that iCAIRD will create new jobs centred around AI and digital technology in healthcare.

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"It was so good to be able to get out of  the school environment. What an inspiring place. A key message to deliver to my school is that skills development is paramount, and although we are bound by national qualifications to deliver content heavy courses, we must shift some of our focus to supporting the development of relevant skills in our pupils......oh, and Computing Science should be compulsory!"
Teacher and placement participant 

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My placement over three days was intensive, but so enjoyable. It was amazing to see the different career paths and different combinations of roles, knowledge, and skills that are used in the dedicated pursuit of relieving suffering, and bringing new treatments and deeper diagnosis for patients.

At whatever entry point someone makes into the field, whether it is an undergraduate or modern apprenticeship, it is clear there are plenty of opportunities for “digital humans” in precision medicine……there is no wrong path.

An interest in biology and software engineering is a winning combination of study, while postgraduate degrees and courses are available in Precision Medicine. Software engineers are in demand to create programs for AI and imaging. People supporting colleagues in research and development are needed in information technology support desks, business applications and administration. The complimentary disciplines working in teams are a key to this industry, which is set to grow at an exponential rate as Scotland becomes a leading global player.

DH metaskills

Crucial to that success will be ‘metaskills’ such as collaboration, creativity, communication skills, curiosity, critical thinking and leadership. These will much needed and much in demand if we are to solve the complex healthcare problems which confront our generation, and the ones to come.

Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technology are poised to bring about a new revolution in medicine. The impact of which will benefit the individual, the professional, researchers, and the greater economy.

SDS recently worked with the Digital Health & Care Institute to produce a report about the skills required for the sector as part of of the "industry 4.0" revolution. 

The video below shows the Canon Medical imaging technology in action. It offers a more photorealistic view of human anatomy, providing the most advanced 3D rendering seen to date. Using the latest complex shading and lighting techniques, you can edit, segment and capture incredible naturalistic images in real-time. Some of Canon's medical customers have said it’s like looking through a human body.