Dennis is a member of the Academic Endoscopy Group
1. How did you become interested in translational gastroenterology?
I received my master's degree in computer science in 2015 and came to Oxford shortly afterwards to start on a DPhil. My background is with image analysis and machine learning, and I saw gastroenterology as an opportunity to apply my image analysis background for developing tools that can improve patient diagnostics, while at the same time working in an exciting multidisciplinary environment.
2. What are you currently working on and what importance does your work hold for current patients with gastrointestinal issues?
Barrett's oesophagus is a change in the lower part of the oesophagus from normal oesophageal tissue epithelium to a lining similar to intestinal tissue, and is a premalignant condition for oesophageal adenocarcinoma. During endoscopic investigation of a patient's oesophagus, endoscopists watch a live feed of video that is being captured, evaluates the potential progression of Barrett's, determines relevant sites, and taking of biopsy samples to be sent for further investigation.
We are creating video analysis tools for aiding endoscopists in practice. A 3-dimensional map of a patient's oesophagus is currently in development, to which is possible to map information such as regions of automatically detected Barrett's, taken biopsies, automatically suggested sites of biopsies and alerting of anomalies. The aim is that such a map will be able to aid endoscopists in training, allow for objective measurements of Barrett's progression, and easily link biopsy information to follow-up endoscopy visits and retrospective video analysis.
3. What do you enjoy most about scientific research?
The freedom to generate your own ideas, develop them together with people of very different backgrounds and complimentary skillsets, and then pursue them with state of the art methodology is a very stimulating and fulfilling process. Occasionally witnessing your ideas work as intended, or sometimes even unexpectedly well, leaves an incredible feeling.
4. What’s the best part of being an Oxford University TGU member?
Being a part of Oxford University TGU lets me have a very integrated position as a part of the project, as I have close interactions with endoscopists and pathologists where I get to observe their work in action to understand the setting where and how analysis tools are, or could potentially be used. Close collaborations between all different units in a project ensures that the project stays coherent and is on track for fulfilling desired goals. The people here are also very scientifically curious and open to new unexpected collaborations.