Jean Daemen and Kevin Groot Lipman both graduated cum laude (and with a grade of 10) from the Master’s programme in Technical Medicine. They are only the 4th and 5th students in the entire history of the Technical Medicine programme to be awarded this grade. Their supervisor, Dr Marleen Groenier, notes that “Both students have distinguished themselves not only on an academic and technical level, but also in terms of their clinical performance and of the clinical impact of their technical work”.
Both were awarded a grade of 10 for their graduation internship. For ten months, Jean Daemen worked in the thoracic surgery department of the Zuyderland Medical Center in Heerlen. His research there concerned the use of three-dimensional imaging in patients with a funnel chest. Kevin Groot Lipman’s research involved the use of artificial intelligence for imaging in patients with asbestos-related diseases. His internship was at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital in Amsterdam.
The tens are a reward for the great strides they have made in adapting the techniques they worked on for use in clinical settings, and for the way in which they personally applied these techniques to actual patients. During his graduation internship, Jean worked on an imaging technique that involved the use of 3D photographs. These were used to gauge the depth of the indentation in a funnel-chest patient’s ribcage. “Nowadays, CT scasans and X-rays are commonly used for this purpose. However, many of these patients are young people, for whom the radiation exposure involved might be harmful in the long term – so we sought an alternative”, says Jean. Parts of his research have already been published.
During his internship, Kevin worked on several different AI applications for imaging techniques in patients with lung damage resulting from contact with asbestos. These were used to automatically detect any lung damage. “The lung damage caused by asbestos can be difficult to identify, and it takes physicians a long time to assess such patients. Using physicians’ findings from existing CT scans as input, my model learned to accurately recognise any damage.”
In just ten months, they demonstrated the added value that Technical Physicians can bring to their hospital teams. “As a practitioner of Technical Medicine, your job is to translate pure technology into something better suited to everyday practice”, says Jean. “You first examine a problem critically, then you go looking for a solution, while being careful not to lose sight of the patient’s interests.”
Navigating that translation step is not always an easy matter. “You can’t just wave your technical expertise in people’s faces and expect to solve all of the world’s problems by yourself. During my internship, I learned to listen carefully to everyone around me and to become part of the multidisciplinary team. That is the only way we can succeed in pushing the envelope”, says Kevin. “Medical professionals often have little time to spare, which makes it all the more important to quickly get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet”, Jean adds.
Both men have decided to combine their internships with a PhD project. Initially, neither the Netherlands Cancer Institute nor the Zuyderland Medical Center had any vacancies for PhD students. However, because both Jean and Kevin had quickly managed to make themselves indispensable, funds were made available for this purpose. A great, extra reward to top off the grade tens they were awarded when they graduated.