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Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences


In 2015,  Professor Fiona Gilbert, Honorary Consultant Radiologist with Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Professor of Radiology at Cambridge University's School of Clinical Medicine, successfully applied for a grant from our Research Exchange scheme to carry out collaborative work with iThera Medical, a Munich-based spin out company from the German Research Centre for Environmental Health.

The funding meant that Dr Stefan Morscher from iThera Medical could travel to Cambridge on a fortnightly basis to help Fiona’s PhD student, Oshi Abeyakoon, develop a prototype optoacoustic breast cancer imaging device for use in the clinic, including a user friendly functioning analysis package.

Abeyakoon told us “We had an existing connection with iThera Medical having purchased the optoacoustic imager from them already. However, there was a lot of optimisation and development work to be done to make it suitable for use in the clinic; with the company located in Germany, obtaining hands on technical support was difficult and the clinicians had limited knowledge on carrying out work over the phone. So being able to bring Stefan over to Cambridge was really crucial to move this project forward.”

Professor Gilbert added “It was so important for Oshi and Stefan to find common ground, particularly around the technical language used on both sides of the clinician/engineer collaboration, and this was expedited by Stefan’s visit to Cambridge. Without this, progress to testing the equipment on healthy volunteers and patients could easily have dragged out over years.”

iThera Medical noted significant benefits from the exchange as well: “A lot of knowledge gained from the exchange has been fed back to R&D activities in hardware and software” said Stefan. “I was very happy with how everything went and I believe the aims of the exchange were fully achieved.”

Morscher continues to visit the team in Cambridge every 4-8 weeks to continue developing this collaboration and further evolving the use of optoacoustic imaging in breast cancer applications with optimized algorithms and analysis software.