Director of Research, Optos plc

Queensferry House, Carnegie Business Campus, Dunfermline KY11 8GR

Tel: +44 (0)1383 843300;

I direct the research at Optos plc, a Nikon company, founded and based in Dunfermline. My research group pioneers novel medical technology—software and hardware—for diagnostic retinal imaging. We collaborate intensively with academics, healthcare practitioners and technology businesses to mature technology into prototypes for clinical trials and then into commercialisation. Examples where we have succeeded to turn ideas into products include a new medical standard for anatomically-correct measurements on the retina [1], automatic montaging of ultra-widefield images [2] and ultra-wide indocyanine green angiography.

Back in 2009, I headed up a research group at the University of Edinburgh’s Informatics with a focus on data-intensive science. I took part in the inaugural Scottish Crucible where together with Dr Wendy Gidman and Alison Dawson we were awarded an interdisciplinary project. Soon after, I started at Optos and about a year later I heard about a new initiative, the Young Academy of Scotland. I immediately applied. Again, I found myself part of a diverse group of enthused and ambitious people that were part of a new venture. As my focus had shifted from research to business my main focus was on the industry theme, now more aptly named the enterprising theme. Through the Young Academy of Scotland mentorship programme I had the opportunity to join the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Business Innovation Forum, which I am still a member of today. This really suited my passion: interdisciplinary collaboration that spans both business and university. So much so that I applied to become a member of the Scottish Funding Council’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee. I now represent the voice of business during committee discussions when formulating advice on policy making. Two months ago, my story culminated when I became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. I am certain that is the result of my first steps into 22-26 George Street to attend the first meeting of the Scottish Crucible way back in April 2009.

I would like to highlight the benefits of mixing with a group of ambitious people from a broad range of disciplines. I have always sought out such collaborations as they have given me the most fascinating context and rewarding results. Perhaps to no surprise I have had the pleasure to work with more than 200 of my co-authors. One such collaboration originated from meeting Professor Ik Siong Heng at the Young Academy of Scotland. He works on analysis techniques for the detection of gravitational waves. After several collaborative projects [3] and with a jointly-supervised EngD student we have made the leap to translate his techniques into Optos manufacturing processes [4] to increase the yield in a major component of our medical devices.

[1] Sagong M, van Hemert J, Olmos de Koo LC, Barnett C, Sadda SR. Assessment of accuracy and precision of quantification of ultra-widefield images. Ophthalmology. 2015 Apr;122(4):864-6.

[2] Croft DE, van Hemert J, Wykoff CC, Clifton D, Verhoek M, Fleming A, Brown DM. Precise montaging and metric quantification of retinal surface area from ultra-widefield fundus photography and fluorescein angiography. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers Imaging Retina. 2014 Jul-Aug;45(4):312-7.

[3] Why does it matter?,  Science Scotland (20), ISSN 1743–6230.

[4] Big bang in big data, Science Scotland (20), ISSN 1743–6230.