Profile: CDT Alumna Dr Alison O’Neil
Enrolled 2011, Canon Medical Research Europe/Heriot-Watt University
I undertook an EngD at Canon Medical Research Europe in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University, focussing on image analysis for the detection and labelling of anatomical structures in 3D medical images, in particular CT and MRI scans. I used statistics and machine learning to design algorithms which leveraged anatomical domain knowledge via atlas techniques. During my EngD I had the opportunity to present my work at conferences in San Diego, Vienna, and Athens. I was an author of a patent on vessel tracking from anatomical landmarks, and it has been rewarding to see one of my doctoral programme algorithms make it into Canon Medical scanners.
I was hired by Canon at the end of my EngD and I am now a Principal AI scientist and Team Lead in Canon Medical’s AI Centre of Excellence. I work on machine learning for healthcare applications, working with imaging, text, and structured clinical data. The research skills that I gained during my EngD have been invaluable, in particular the understanding of rigorous scientific practices, the ability to analyse and debug new ideas, and the tenacity to bring research through ups and downs to a successful conclusion. I now supervise EngD and PhD students myself and hold an Honorary Research Fellow position at the University of Edinburgh – so I am happily continuing the theme of staying at the confluence of industry and academia!