We Caught Up With Last Year's William James Award Winner, Rossana Castaldo - “The Power To Change People’s Lives – That’s What Keeps Me Going”

Rossana Castaldo
As we approach the 2019 Healthcare Technologies Student and Early Career awards (submission deadline, 28 June at 17:00) we caught up with last year's William James award winner to find out the rewards of research life, her route into postdoctoral research and the perks of winning an IET award. 
Rossana Castaldo, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Univeristy of Warwick, is working in biomedical engineering and developing technology which promises to improve chemotherapy treatment. 

Tell us more about your research
Our bodies operate according to circadian rhythms – they change physically, mentally and behaviourally following a daily cycle. These circadian rhythms affect chemotherapy treatment and treatment affects them too, so they need to be monitored.This can be done by blood, salivary and urine hormone tests, but such tests are not practical at home and don’t provide continuous real-time monitoring.

I’m developing a model for real-time monitoring of circadian rhythms, which combines artificial intelligence and signal processing, with commercial sensors embedded into smartwatches or clothes.

What’s it like to work in research?
Science is constantly evolving and transforming, making research challenging, tiresome and sometimes frustrating. Between the design of a study, hours of data entry, unexpected results and unforeseen errors, sometimes it feels like nothing is going according to plan. The most satisfying part is where you realise all the options in front of you lead to learning and improving the outcome. Both expected and unexpected results have the power to change people’s lives – that’s what keeps me going.

How did you get into healthcare research?
At secondary school, I had an incredible maths teacher who taught me to be curious about how things work. I was most interested in how the human body works, and in how I could play some part in helping people. So I decided to do a BSc degree in Biomedical Engineering at Univesità degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, before moving to the University of Warwick to continue with a master’s and PhD. For my PhD, I worked on developing novel methodologies for ECG processing. I focused on machine learning techniques which could be applied outside of the laboratory and in real-life scenarios to predict adverse healthcare events.   

Any highlights?
My PhD research papers were very well received by the biomedical engineering community and I was invited to join the Health Technologies Assessment Division of the International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE). We’re working with the World Health Organisation to develop methods for assessing innovative medical devices. Being part of this international research community has opened up many opportunities for me - I’m heard by experts around the world and I’m contributing to improving people’s lives.

Why did you apply for an IET Healthcare Award?
Not only is it a prestigious award, it’s a great way to showcase my achievements, gain recognition for my hard work and promote my ideas to world-leading experts in the healthcare field.

What’s next for you?
As an IET award winner and ambassador, I hope to encourage others to join healthcare research, so that they too can make a difference. I also want to promote the importance of research that considers the patient’s point of view and delivers personalised healthcare.

Are you a student or early career professional in the healthcare technologies field? Share your achievements with your community – apply for an IET award today!
Posted by Amy Wilson on Jun 10, 2019 11:45 AM Europe/London


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