CACHET 2018 - Discussing challenges of inter-disciplinary research.

By Sigurd Melbye
Friday, 22nd February 2019
Filed under: ESRBlog

As a medical doctor I have not had a lot of technical training during my education and clinical residency. But I have had a lot of training in medical conditions and gained experience in communicating with patients and doing clinical assessment. These are skills that many technically trained researchers lack.

A good thing about TEAM and similar projects are that they bring people with different professional backgrounds together to make technical health solutions that patients and clinicians can benefit from. I really appreciate having the opportunity to meet people with different backgrounds, but similar goals with their research as me.

One of these similar projects is the Copenhagen Center for Health Technology or simply CACHET, which also holds several TEAM-ITN-members. CACHET aims to bring together top universities, leading research institutions, care organizations, and healthcare companies, with a clear vision to; “... promote and support healthy living, active ageing, and chronic disease prevention and management through personalized health technology.”

CACHET annually holds a Fall Seminar, and even though the Copenhagen weather this day reminded more of winter, there was a CACHET Fall Seminar this December. The scene was set to dig deeper into some of the conflicting interest between clinical and technical professionals regarding research on technological health solutions. I will briefly write about some of the topics that was on the agenda:

Over- or under-diagnosis: New technologies gives new opportunities for improved diagnosing. Every time a new diagnostic tool is being introduced factors like sensitivity and specificity must be taken into consideration. A good diagnostic tool should help individuals and the community, not lead to unnecessary worrying and unnecessary use of treatment resources. Medical professionals have traditionally had a conservative approach to new diagnostic tools and wants them to be grounded in scientifically strong evidence before implementing them into clinical practice. During this session there was two speakers with two different views presenting their thoughts and the sessions ended with a panel.

Clinical trials: Traditionally, RCT (Randomized controlled trial) has been the preferred study design for medical research. In a conventional RCT, the intervention of the study is defined before the trial and stays unchanged trough the trial length. These preconditions contrast with the traditions of most Computer science trials, which has to deal with the rapid changing world of technology. In relation to this issue, Maarten Rozing, Assistant Professor from the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen gave a talk about Adaptive Clinical trials, which can be viewed as a compromise as it uses the strict predefined measures of medical tradition and the adaptable approach from the computer science tradition.

The seminar ended with shorter presentations from the various young researchers affiliated with CACHET. And of course, in the end there was a network session where I got to meet other young PhD-students, among them my fellow TEAM-researchers Pegah and Giovanna. All in all, it was for me, a very educational day, and it gave me some insight into topics I was not aware of being so relevant for me and my research. Already looking forward to CACHET Fall Seminar 2019.

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