Monday 26th of February 2018
On 07th February 2010

An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Pascal Fallavollita

"If the faculty of MIT has unanimously voted to make any publications they produce Open Access, then I'm sure to recommend it!"

I am currently a Postdoctoral fellow at Queen's University, Canada, developing novel image analysis and modeling techniques for image-guided prostate cancer interventions. After having obtained a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, at McGill University, in 2002, I reoriented my career in biomedical engineering and completed a PhD at École Polytechnique de Montreal in 2008. My research interests lies in computer assisted surgery, a fascinating and complex field that covers navigation and surgical planning, visualization and medical imaging. Specifically, I have investigated techniques that will improve the clinical workflow for cardiac ablation, coronary angiography and prostate brachytherapy procedures.

How did you gain interest in Biomedical Engineering and Interventional Imaging?
In my final year as an undergraduate student, I had to design and build an experimental apparatus which is a bilateral electro-hydraulic actuator system designed to measure dynamic ankle joint stiffness in humans during upright stance (see link). This particular project sparked my enthusiasm and motivated me to pursue my studies in the biomedical engineering field; a step forward in hopefully contributing and improving the quality of life in individuals.

What trend do you foresee in the Biomedical Engineering and Interventional Imaging area?
The number of biomedical engineering jobs will certainly climb in the near future. Industry support of biomedical research has increased dramatically in the last decade and this is not surprising as there are a host of exciting biomedical discoveries and development of new biomedical technologies going on in collaboration with research universities around the world. The overall objective will continue to be to improve health and quality of life by developing innovative processes and informatics approaches to improve diagnosis and treatment of disease.

What did you investigate in your last publication?
My last accepted publication was at SPIE Medical Imaging, which is the premier conference for medical scientists, physicists, and practitioners in the field of imaging. I investigated and proposed 3D/3D multimodal fusion of implanted radioactive seeds inside the prostate and prostate tissue using ultrasound and fluoroscopy data to achieve dynamic dosimetry in clinic for prostate brachytherapy interventions.

How do you approach research?
Research is supposed to be fun and this helps me become motivated in tackling and resolving a specific problem encountered in clinic. Aside from journal or conference deadlines, research is not a race to the finish line. I believe it requires time to propose new and breakthrough methodologies and algorithms. The ultimate goal is to produce research of a high international standard and innovation in the biomedical engineering field and patience and determination are some of the qualities to achieve this.

What are the most interesting or surprising things you have learned about since your arrival at Queen's University?
The most interesting facet in my current workplace is witnessing first hand the synergy between our industry/clinic/academic partners on our current projects. Communication and leadership skills are vital for all partners so that a final working product can be achieved in a timely fashion. In short, being part of the bigger picture helps motivate me in doing things well and finding purpose in research.

What topics have you been teaching until now at Queen's University?
I've taught Procedural Programming in MatLab at the undergraduate level at École Polytechnique de Montreal. Most recently I gave lectures in the course: Computer Integrated Surgery at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

What was your most successful moment?
The completion of my doctorate degree.

Your recommendation and advise for young researchers who would want to pursue research in Biomedical Engineering and Interventional Imaging?
For those young researchers that would like to pursue a research career in the biomedical field then I would advise them to be passionate about their work, ask lots of questions, read literature, and publish! Above all, work with someone established or with someone with different skills from yours and who will be a mentor to you.

What are the current research projects you are working on?
My immediate tasks pertain to multimodal prostate image registration, and C-arm fluoroscopy pose estimation.

What is your feeling about open-access publication? Do you recommend it?
If the faculty of MIT has unanimously voted to make any publications they produce Open Access, then I'm sure to recommend it!

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