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08 Mar

Meet Eliza Orasanu - CDT in Medical Imaging alumna

by Benedetta Biffi

After achieving her PhD in medical imaging in October 2016, CDT graduate Eliza Orasanu has since moved on to start a career in medical research for industry. Here, Eliza shares her thoughts on making the transition from academic to industry research, career aspirations and gender balance in the medical imaging field.

What is your current role?
I am currently a Research Scientist at Philips gmbh Innovative Technology in Hamburg, Germany, in the Digital Imaging Research Group.

Can you describe your research?
At Philips, I am working on brain and lung image segmentation from MR and CT, with applications in cancer radiotherapy treatment planning.

What did you study?
I finished my Bachelor’s ‘double’ degree in Physics & Earth and Space Sciences at Jacobs University Bremen in Germany, after which in 2012 I joined the CDT (back then called the DTP) in Medical and Biomedical Imaging at UCL.

What was the topic of your PhD project?
My PhD project looked at developing computational tools to investigate early brain development in babies born extremely premature. Brain development is a fascinating area since a lot is still not really understood, so I chose this project mainly for its challenging nature!

What inspired you to join the CDT in Medical Imaging?
During my studies in Bremen, I did an internship at Fraunhofer Mevis, on computational modelling of medical data. It was then when I realised how much I enjoyed medical image analysis so it came just natural that my next step will be to continue my studies in this field. When I came across the DTP/CDT, it just felt like the perfect match!

How did the CDT prepare you for starting your career in the medtech industry?
I think the most important aspect of the CDT were the conferences and their submission deadlines that supervisors push for. I cannot stress enough how much I think these deadlines prepare you for the real world. It makes you a more organised and responsible person. The possibility of attending conferences, which the CDT provides for the students, is also crucial for networking overall, seeing other people’s work from all over the world and introducing you also to the ‘dark’ side aka industry research.

What are your career aspirations for the future?
Right now I am trying to get used to industry research. It is a completely different environment than academia, with many more deadlines, meetings and less ‘freedom’ for research, since the most important goal is the client’s satisfaction with the product you are delivering.

My career can only go up from here. I want to understand more and more of what’s out there and provide as much support I can to improve healthcare. I think a consultancy position in the medical imaging field is something I am aiming for long term.

What do you think of the gender balance in medical imaging research?
In my research group at UCL about a third of the people were women, which is actually a lot for this field. This ratio is probably even worse in industry. What is more striking is not the ratio of women researchers in general, but the ratio of women researchers holding high roles.

I do think that the situation is slowly improving with the ratios, more women are attracted to this field, and I do hope that in a few years there will be a lot of women in high positions.

What advice would you have for a final year CDT student on starting their career?
Think early about what you would like to do next and make a plan. If you want to go to industry for example, don’t just settle for a post-doc because it is the easier no stress option. If you want to join a group in another city or university or even country, don’t just stay in the same research group and city only because you are already settled there. Don’t be scared to get out of your comfort zone!

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Benedetta Biffi

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