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Interview Dutch CardioVascular Alliance with 4TU researcher Jelmer Wolterink

Thursday, 7 October 2021

4TU.Precision Medicine researcher Dr. Jelmer Wolterink (University of Twente) is participating in the DCVA (Dutch CardioVascular Alliance) Leadership Program; a network of talented and dedicated people who are seen as leaders in the future cardiovascular arena. The DCVA interviewed him about his experiences with this program.

Source: Dutch CardioVascular Alliance


β€œ“I think the connection between technique and the more clinical expertise of other participants is essential"”
Dr. Jelmer Wolterink
Assistant Professor at University of Twente - Medical image analysis, machine learning

With a background in mathematics and computer science, dr. Jelmer Wolterink sees opportunities in working with the large amounts of healthcare data. We are very pleased that he choose to participate in this years leadership program. "We can learn a lot more from that data about what works for which patient, about early detection and about better prognosis in the event of disease."

How did you first hear about the DCVA Leadership Program?
β€œI received an email from the funding officer of our Technical Medical Center. She keeps researchers in the field of cardiovascular disease informed about interesting possibilities.”

When you received the email about this possibility, did you immediately think: I'm going to join?
β€œAt first I doubted whether I, as a technician, also belonged to the target group of the program. However, when I noticed that the 4TU is also a partner of the DCVA, I decided to be bold because I can also be a unique addition to the program from a technical perspective. My research is not directly involved in patient care, but the applications we develop using artificial intelligence could have a major impact on patients with cardiovascular disease.”

The kick-off meeting and the three-day training have now been completed. What did you think of the program so far?
β€œA full three-day program on location with a new group was intense but very effective. The three-day training was very professionally organized and very useful in terms of content. We were therefore guided by a professional trainer, Margreet van Rixtel, who presented the material very concretely and applicable. I will certainly include a number of points from the training sessions in my daily work. I also found it very interesting to get to know people who work towards a common goal from a completely different angle.”

Would you recommend the program to others?
β€œI would definitely recommend this program for people with a technical background and affinity with cardiovascular disease. The program offers a good opportunity for people who want to contribute to the goals of the DCVA from a different background.”

What do you bring for the DCVA?
β€œI think the connection between technique and the more clinical expertise of other participants is essential. Both for research with impact and for the mission of the DCVA. My added value is that I have a background in mathematics and computer science. As a result, I know a lot about artificial intelligence and how to deal with large amounts of data. For example, in healthcare, an enormous amount of data is collected and not always used optimally. We can learn a lot more from that data about what works for which patient, about early detection and about better prognosis in the event of disease.

A nice example of collaboration for me is with Dr. Kak Khee Yeung, vascular surgeon at AmsterdamUMC and also participant in the leadership program. We work together in the field of abdominal aneurysms and try to use AI to predict how an aneurysm will develop in a patient. Prediction models in this area are limited so far and with the help of artificial intelligence we can extract more information from the images and therefore make better personalized predictions. The clinical expertise of Dr. Yeung and my technical expertise can make this project a success, it would never work on its own.”

β€œI would definitely recommend this program for people with a technical background and affinity with cardiovascular disease. The program offers a nice opportunity for people with different backgrounds but the same interests.”

What does the DCVA Leadership Program bring you?
β€œIt brings me substantive connections with the other participants and thus a broader network, but also the opportunity to draw on the experience of the mentors in the program and the keynote speakers. In addition, the program offers the opportunity to learn more about leadership in everyday situations and to look at complex issues from a different perspective. Together with two other participants, we are working on an issue suggested by the partners of the DCVA, in which our multidisciplinary background results in fun and interesting discussions.”

When is the leadership program successful for you?
β€œOn a personal level, the program will have been successful for me when I have learned leadership techniques that I can apply in my daily work and organization. In addition, through this program I also want to contribute to the goals of the DCVA by connecting technology and care.”

Is there anything else you would like to add?
β€œIt's really nice that participants in this program have complementary backgrounds. That's really well chosen. In addition, I would like to mention the Precision Medicine program of the 4TU, in which I work daily on precision medicine for cardiovascular disease together with a large group of other researchers in the field of medical imaging, physics and artificial intelligence.


Also read the DCVA-interview with participant Margot van der Salm. "We need to focus more on the connection between the first and second e"