A day in the life... of Dr Benjamin Schmitt

Tuesday, 02 October, 2018

A day in the life... of Dr Benjamin Schmitt

Dr Benjamin Schmitt is Head of Collaborations & Research for Siemens Healthineers, Australia and New Zealand. His areas of expertise and professional experience cover research projects and application development in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Ben completed his PhD in Physics/Biophysics from the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg in 2011, focusing on the implementation of Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer Imaging on a clinical MRI platform. In his current position, Ben leads a team of five collaborations scientists working closely with Siemens’ research customers in the region, exploring the development and implementation of novel MRI scanning techniques in clinical routine.

6:30 Wake up, head to the gym for my morning workout to start the day.

8:00 I arrive at the office and check my emails that have come through overnight, I can guarantee there’ll have been activity from my colleagues in the German and American markets.

8:30 I have a teleconference with our global artificial intelligence (AI) research team in Princeton, US, to discuss a project proposal from one of our local academic customers that focuses on using AI for clinical decision support to transform care delivery.

10:00 We commence the daily team meeting with our scientists to discuss research and developments in progress. Today’s meeting focuses on one of our research projects with Monash University. The study is uncovering the secrets to super-ageing through a world-first technique of interpreting imaging data.

Facilitated by next-generation imaging technology, for the first time ever the researchers will be able to quantifiably measure an individual’s ‘cognitive reserve’ — a parameter that has the potential to show how much capacity a person has to maintain healthy brain function.

Dr Schmitt presenting on Siemens' involvement in the ARC Innovation and Translation Centre grant with the University of Queensland. Image credit: ©Siemens Healthineers.

11:00 Time to check in with our legal team. Here I help assess and refine our customer research collaboration contracts and streamline projects in order for them to become active and get underway.

12:00 Off for a quick bite with some colleagues. If I’m ahead of time I go for a 15-minute walk to clear my mind and return rejuvenated, ready for the afternoon ahead.

12:30 I begin reviewing results from one of our research studies with a collaboration partner in Brisbane that is using magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF) to quantitatively evaluate changes in the magnetic properties of tissue for characterising neurological disorders.

MRF is a potentially disruptive new approach to clinical diagnostic imaging, with the potential to quantitatively detect and analyse complex changes that can represent physical alterations of a substance or early indications of disease.

14:00 From here, I move onto reviewing collaboration opportunities to do research with our customers for improving patient experience and expanding precision medicine. I particularly look for research opportunities that are set to develop or validate new techniques that make medicine more precise and affordable for the general population, for example, through faster scanning techniques.

15:00 I begin preparing for my trip to the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) meeting in Paris, one of the many conferences I attend yearly. The ISMRM program always provides cutting-edge MRI research and insights, delivered by the most dynamic speakers in our industry.

This year I will be meeting with several key stakeholders as well as attending programs that delve into translational science and state-of-the-art clinical research.

16:00 Ahead of my trip, I review recent research achievements from our local collaborations and begin setting up meetings to discuss the findings of our customers with representatives from our global R&D network. All up I have about 25 meetings across the week with local customers and key Siemens Healthineers executives to discuss how our Australian research projects are impacting the global market.

17:00 I’m heading to Brisbane tonight, so I leave the office to catch my flight. I’m off to celebrate the launch of the Industrial Transformation Training Centre (ITTC) with the University of Queensland. The university has received a $4.7 million Australian Research Council grant to develop a centre that will prepare new scientists for the industry, and develop ‘smart’ imaging probes and scanning techniques.

Dr Benjamin Schmitt. Image credit: ©Siemens Healthineers.

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