How to Pursue a Career in Regenerative Medicine

If you were to take a look at the educational and professional backgrounds of those apart of Celixir’s leadership – including its founders, board of directors and scientific advisory committee – you might be surprised by the variety you’d find.

Professor Sir Martin Evans, Celixir’s President, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder, attended Christ’s College (a constituent college of the University of Cambridge) where he studied zoology, botany, chemistry and biochemistry. After graduating with a BA, he moved to University College London where he worked as a research assistant and graduated with a PhD. Not only did Sir Martin Evans isolate the first embryonic stem cells, he’s also published over 120 scientific papers and is the recipient of a Nobel Prize.

This, compared with Celixir’s Chief Executive Officer and other co-founder, Ajan Reginald, whose background is in both science and business. Ajan holds four degrees and is an alumni of Harvard Business School, University of Oxford, Kellogg Business School and University of London. After serving as the Global Head of Emerging Technologies for Roche Group Research, he moved on to the Business Development Director at Roche Pharma. Since, he’s helped develop Celixir’s breakthrough technologies including Heartcel and Tendoncel.

Of course, this is all to say that the path towards a career in regenerative medicine is not necessarily a linear one.

The Field is Growing

While – compared to other fields – regenerative medicine is in its infancy, technological advances, ever-increasing funding and high demand have made it grow quickly.

What’s especially exciting, though, isn’t that regenerative medicine is a growing market. Instead, it’s the virtually limitless possibilities in terms of what scientists and researchers can achieve with their work. As the world’s population ages and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s remain untreatable, more and more people are looking towards this multidisciplinary field for answers to a number of medical questions.

Desired Interests, Skills and Expertise

Regenerative medicine attracts people across several different fields including engineering, business, molecular science, healthcare and even robotics. And, because regenerative medicine is focused so heavily on applying current (and creating future) technology to improve quality of life for patients, it’s an especially attractive field for those interested in actually making a difference.

Luckily, and as demonstrated by Ajan Reginald’s and Sir Martin Evans’ backgrounds, the skills learned in all of the fields mentioned above (engineering, business, molecular science, healthcare, robotics) can be applied to regenerative medicine. This is to say that functional expertise and not necessarily general knowledge about regenerative medicine is key. Imaging specialists, immunologists, bioengineers and transplant surgeons are all contributing to the advances being made, even if they don’t consider themselves specialists in regenerative medicine.

But, there are specific programs available at universities all over the world that act as a ‘direct’ gateway to regenerative medicine. That is to say that they focus on a specific segment of regenerative medicine, like tissue engineering.

Breaking Into the Industry

As mentioned, there is no linear path to break into regenerative medicine. But, there are a number of resources that can help.

If you’re a student, professors or other mentors within your university could provide networking opportunities. Alternatively, you could network at jobs fairs or other conferences like International Society for Stem Cell Research or World Congress on Regenerative Medicine. You can also apply to companies or universities directly.

Bear in mind that a career in regenerative can take a number of forms, from a research associate to lecturer to a project manager.

If you’re interested in stem cell research and regenerative medicine, keep up with the latest news on Celixir’s blog or follow Celixir on Twitter or Facebook.

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The Potential Impact of AI on Cell Therapy

Just under two years ago, Ajan Reginald, the founder, CEO and thought leader behind Celixir, sat down with IntelligentHQ.com to talk about current challenges and opportunities within the healthcare industry. While Celixir’s own Heartcel was of course discussed as a cutting edge innovation in life-saving, life-altering medicine, artificial intelligence (AI) and its role in healthcare was also debated.

At the time of this 40-minute interview, Ajan Reginald was especially excited about AI in that robots could potentially edit genes and inject cells with more precision than humans. For Ajan, breakthroughs in medicine come from increased patient benefit and he certainly saw the many benefits automation would offer. When you consider that the third leading cause of patient death is hospital error, it’s hard to disagree.

But, despite the obvious benefits, there were still a number of hurdles that had to be overcome, specifically in terms of data privacy and encryption. Scientists and researchers would have to work hard to develop technology that would ensure that the right patient got the right medicine in the right dose at the right time.

The question is, have the necessary advancements been made over the last 21 months?

On Our Way to AI-Dependent Healthcare

While healthcare providers and tech companies have been investing billions into testing AI-powered tools, the scientific and medical communities are still struggling to find solutions to data and privacy concerns. But, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been significant advancements with massive potential in terms of robotic surgery and image analysis.

AI-Assisted Surgery

Not only does AI-assisted surgery have an estimated value of $40 billion according to a report from Accenture, but, given robots ability to analyse data from pre-op medical records, they could be used to guide surgeons’ instruments during surgery, leading to a 21% reduction in patients’ hospital stays. This is clearly beneficial for the patient. Of course, less time spent in the hospital equates to reduced costs for insurance companies and hospitals, too.

AI-assisted surgery has also been proven to be more effective, with five times fewer complications compared to surgeons operating alone according to a study published in The Spine Journal.

Today, robots are being used in both eye surgeries and heart surgeries. The Da Vinci, the most advanced surgical robot, successfully operated on a human eye seven months ago. As Ajan predicted, the robot was able to perform complex procedures with greater control than conventional approaches.  

Image Analysis

Up until June of 2018, image analysis was incredibly time consuming. That’s because humans were doing the analysing and it could take two hours or more to see a change in 3D medical scans.

Now, thanks to an MIT-led research team, there is a machine-learning algorithm that can analyse 3D scans up to 1,000 times faster than was previously possible. The changes are essentially studied in real time, allowing surgeons to react more quickly during operations.

AI is also expected to help improve the next generation of radiology tools. Instead of collecting tissue samples through biopsies which has the potential to cause an infection in the patient, the AI-powered tool would show images with very close registration. Currently, these tools are just being piloted.

The Future of AI in Healthcare

AI in healthcare is in its infancy. But, it’s clear that AI tools and systems can help treat patients faster and with more precision than is possible for humans. While we’re still waiting to utilise robots in providing cell therapies, we’re sure to see advancements in how AI processes and interprets data to make the application and administration of medicine easier.

For more stem cell and regenerative medicine news, keep up with Celixir’s blog.