We weigh anchors. "Hola a tothom" from Barcelona!

Fresh start for our non-invasive tool to help clinicians treat AF

Me next to the UB Faculty of Medicine, my old faculty, next to my PhD office

My 25 started in a very exciting way: new home, new job, new project… new life! Add coming back home to this and you’ll understand even more my enthusiasm. After two years enjoying waffles, beer and french fries in Brussels I decided to go back home and get back to bread with tomato, cured ham and escalivada. So here I am, back to Barcelona!

This is not a full-stop from my Belgian adventure, though. Luckily I am now involved in PersonalizeAF, a project that will allow me to continue deepening into medical imaging analysis, the field I focused my studies on in Belgium, and to which I hope to contribute during my PhD thanks to the experience I gained in my years abroad. But let me tell you in detail which path have I walked on that brought me to have this wonderful opportunity.

As I said in the first paragraph, this is a return home for me, so you can imagine that I studied my BSc in Biomedical Engineering in Barcelona, more specifically in Universitat de Barcelona. During those years I could learn from the different branches of the field and I could move around the different departments of Hospital Clínic de Barcelona. This experience made me understand that my passion was towards the interpretation, analysis and improvement of medical images to help clinicians on the treatment and diagnosis of diseases with non-invasive techniques.

After this realization I decided to continue exploring where this passion could lead me, so I embarked on the journey of my MSc studies, where I could focus more deeply in the imaging field, both during my internship in Peru and my MSc thesis in UZ Brussel. In these projects is where I have been able to see firsthand how to work with clinical data, perform organized analyses with different image data and get used to clinical tools convenient to perform a proper evaluation of the studied data. I don’t think I am exaggerating if I say that this is the period of my life where I feel I have grown more professionally until this moment.

Of course, I say “until this moment” because I am currently starting another chapter in my life and I have the most advantageous chance to evolve and continue growing. During this past week I have started my PhD at IDIBAPS, in Hospital Clínic’s department of arrhythmias, and although I feel overwhelmed by the amount of new concepts I need to master, I am thrilled to face this challenge and learn as much as possible so that I can do my bit in improving the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF).

As you can see in the picture, I am currently lost in interpreting signals coming from the heart. I am being introduced to the treatments used for AF and other arrhythmias and the functioning of the different catheters used to treat these arrhythmias. I am also getting the concepts of the imaging techniques used to help clinicians treat these conditions and in operating the software tools that allow us to work with these images. I am as well practicing in the usage of these tools by performing atrium segmentations and other tasks that doctors use in their daily duties. So, you see that luckily for me the team is being very helpful in my first days. They’re showing and explaining a lot of things that I will apply in my project, which more specifically is about detecting and quantifying the fibrosis that are related to the induction of AF, and we aim to do so non-invasively by using cardiac MRI.

Contour of the left atrium in cranial view

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “To reach a port we must set sail – Sail, not tie at anchor. Sail, not drift”. And that’s what I pretend to do, so I am currently sailing near the coast of a sea I will try to navigate during these next years in order to reach a port and discover new ways to help in the treatment of AF non-invasively. If you want to join me and the rest of the network in our journey, you should follow us in our social media using the hashtag #PersonalizeAF. Come aboard, sailors!

Coast of Barcelona