Marlene (left) and Eloise (right) after a long day of system testing at the EDEN2020 clinical partner site in Lodi, Italy.

Time for celebration as two more EDEN2020 PhD students receive their doctorates

May 12, 2021

We are extremely proud to share that EDEN2020 PhD students Eloise Matheson and Marlene Pinzi have been awarded their doctorates, we caught up with them on their EDEN2020 experience and plans for the future.

Supervised by Professor Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena and Professor Daniele Dini, Marlene’s thesis developed novel computer-assisted planning tools to facilitate surgeons in planning safe paths for steerable needles in minimally invasive neurosurgery. Alongside her PhD research, Marlene has also been working on the commercial exploitation of some of the EDEN2020 technology, with the aim to co-found a new venture, NeopteraSurgical, whilst reaching the final stages of competitive entrepreneurial programmes, Engineering in Business, Panacea Stars develop accelerator, Imperial Mentor Venturing Service program, and together with Eloise, Women in Innovation 2020 (WE Innovate).

‘It was always important to me to contribute to the common good through my profession and EDEN2020 was just the best environment I could hope for to immerse myself with hard work, passion, and enthusiasm. EDEN2020 was for me an amazing journey with the noble clinical challenge of extending and enhancing the quality of life of cancer patients’ – Marlene Pinzi.

Marlene (left) and Eloise (right) after a long day of system testing at the EDEN2020 clinical partner site in Lodi, Italy.
Marlene (left) and Eloise (right) after a long day of system testing at the EDEN2020 clinical partner site in Lodi, Italy.

Eloise was supervised by Professor Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena and Emeritus Professor Brian Davies. Her thesis concentrated on the human-machine interface of EDEN2020’s steerable catheter, looking at the best way to combine visual and haptic feedback to allow surgeons to intuitively steer the needle. On a visit to a clinical partner in Lodi (UMIL), she undertook trials to test, validate and integrate their robotic system, interacting directly with clinicians from EDEN2020 partners UMIL, Polytechnic University of Milan and TU Munich. Outside of her academic work, she received a Student Award for Outstanding Achievement from Imperial College London.

‘Being part of this project[…] has been a fantastic experience. Not only did I learn from highly intelligent and motivated engineers, scientists, and clinicians, I had the chance to be part of a research project focused on translation[…] I really hope what we have achieved can have clinical impact in the future on the treatment of brain cancer and other neurological diseases’ – Eloise Matheson.

Eloise in front of the robotic delivery system holding EDEN2020's sterilised surgical package.
Eloise in front of the robotic delivery system holding EDEN2020’s sterilised surgical package.

Looking forward, Eloise is currently working as a robotics engineer at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, where she is using similar robotics technology to her EDEN2020 work for inspection, maintenance, and repair tasks at the accelerator complex. In tandem, Marlene is focussed on reaching commercialisation with NeopteraSurgical and hopes to continue working in MedTech, pursuing her passion applying medical technologies and improving inequalities in access to treatment.

‘My favourite thing about this PhD has been the team I worked closely with every day for 4 years. I could not have asked for a better group of people to collaborate with’ – Eloise Matheson.

Part of the EDEN2020 team at the Mechatronics in Medicine Laboratory at Imperial College London.
Part of the EDEN2020 team at the Mechatronics in Medicine Laboratory at Imperial College London.

Congratulations again to both Eloise and Marlene on behalf of the EDEN2020 consortium, we wish them all the best with their future endeavours!