CLAIRE, 39 years old
Medical Imaging Consultant
ALTEN Group, Grenoble.
How she became a mathematician
“In my last year of high school, I wanted to study medicine. But I was a little afraid of how long my studies would take. I didn’t have much of a taste for mathematics. A friend of my parents offered me an internship in functional medical imaging at a hospital in London. Right away, I fell under the spell of imaging; I was especially interested in developing tools for analyzing medical images in order to provide a decisional, strategic, and therapeutic aid. That’s when I got interested in mathematics, since medical imaging required me to master them. I started by doing a general studies degree in SSM (Sciences and Structures of Matter); then, I pursued a master’s of science and technology in the medical instrumentation subfield, then a master of advanced study in medical imaging, then a doctorate. I started an academic career as a researcher, a true joy, except that researchers are poorly paid… And so I reoriented my focus towards other jobs, such as a project head or engineer for R&D (Research and Development). Today, I work in consulting, which enables me to link research and the development and management of projects.”
How mathematics come into play in her job
Working for a service company, the medical imaging consultant brings specialised knowledge to businesses hoping to improve the quality of their offerings.
“At present, I am an expert in image quality in the fields of medicine and security. I work on a project delegated to the Alten group by Thales Electron Devices. In the first place, my job consists in defining the methods and criteria for measuring the quality of an image; then, I specify the quality of numerical radiological panels. I also develop software for processing images in order to improve their quality, both visually and in terms of quantification (estimating image volume).
“Today, medical imaging is essentially based on signal processing. After being recorded in the form of sound waves or radioactive or luminous X rays, the data are first quantified using mathematical models; then, they are processed by computer programs that produce 2D or even 3D models of the structure of the given organ (anatomical imaging) or its metabolism (functional imaging). On top of a solid background in physics and computer science, medical imaging requires wide-ranging knowledge in mathematics (mathematical analysis, geometry, statistics, scientific calculation, and so on.)
“Imaging also has many applications outside the field of medicine, notably in security (detecting dangerous objects concealed in luggage, building surveillance); in the non-destructive inspection of energy, aeronautical, and automotive facilities; in industrial measurement (liquid or gas leaks, the fitting of a part); and in environmental studies (geology, oceanology, and meteorology, among others).”
What are the qualifications?
Bac + 5, with a specialisation in medical imaging under the auspices of a master’s of applied mathematics, biology, or physics, eventually followed by a doctorate (at the bac + 8 level).
Translated by David Kramer