The TEDxAmsterdam iDiscover Workshop on October 13 was quite surprising to me and my colleagues. I am Massimo Mischi, associate professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology and I joined TEDxAmsterdam with my research on the localization on prostate cancer.
With this research I have obtained important national (STW VIDI) and international (ERC StG) personal grants that have permitted building a nice research team. At this point, I can therefore refer to “our” research, which is carried out in tight collaboration with the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam (prof. Hessel Wijkstra) and several other hospitals.
Prostate cancer is diagnosed in one in six men during their life time. It is therefore a serious societal problem. The current diagnostic means are unsuitable, requiring multiple distributed biopsies. With our research we have shown that the combination of ultrasound and contrast agents, together with our advanced signal analysis, permits a noninvasive, early localization of prostate cancer, possibly saving many lives. This method can also be used with other forms of cancer, such as breast cancer.
On October 13, I went to the workshop with Libertario Demi and Tamerlan Saidov, both postdoctorates working with me on this project, referred to as CU-Angio. As we arrived, we had no clue about what to expect. We woke up early on a Saturday morning with the hope that the workshop was really worth this effort. Our initial doubts turned soon into a very positive feeling.
We were immediately assigned a coach and we could learn about our own project thanks to the questions he addressed through a number of team exercises that were planned in the morning. We could also exchange our opinion and experience with several teams involved in very different projects. There was no competition, but a serious commitment by everyone present in order to bring our projects to a higher level, with a better view on the general project direction.In fact, engineers often tend to focus on specific technical problems, missing the overview level that is essential to position the entire project with respect to both society and market demands. This is essential to guide a project efficiently and successfully.
The afternoon was even more surprising. We could meet top professionals in several areas that provided a concrete contribution to our project. We have received important inputs to design our website and, together with a great designer, we have made a nice logo for our project, CU-Angio. The most astonishing and funny part has certainly been our project song. A professional singer and composer, Bernard Hering, was available to make a song in 30 min. We thought: “a song is the last thing we would do for a project on prostate cancer”. And our coach: “…that’s why you should definitely do it! You should be original…”. And so we did it. It was a very positive experience where our full team could work with enthusiasm on the text for the song, together with a great professional singer who was extremely supportive and creative.
Now we are very proud of our song, which we have already put on YouTube and linked to our website www.bmdresearch.nl.
Such an unusual day could not end with a more surprising reception. I was about to put my fingers in a nut bowl when I jumped back recognizing that the bowl was filled with worms… and they seemed to move! There were also some other baked bugs offered with chocolate… Well, many colleagues enjoyed tasting these unusual dishes. I did not dare though.
To conclude, my colleagues and I are very grateful to TEDxAmsterdam for this unique opportunity to boost our project, learn from many top professionals, and team up with colleagues.
A number of other videos can be found here.