CDT in Healthcare Innovation: University of Oxford


Alumni Case Study: Dr John Vardakis

Prior to joining the Healthcare Innovation CDT at the University of Oxford, John Vardakis had completed a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from Kings College London, and had experience of designing and constructing an environmentally sustainable desalination system in Fiji. He had also worked in politics and hospitality, as well as supporting researchers in surgical robotics at King’s College London.

CDT research: John’s research focused on a global health priority for Dementia by looking at multidisciplinary innovation in developing new diagnostic and modelling techniques. During his PhD, he also managed computer-based laboratories and ran practical demonstrations for students, and consulted on the use of
computational methods for vascular diagnosis (blood vessel disorders), and conducted product market research for a leading company in liquid repellent nano-coating technology.

Post-doc career: Following his PhD in 2014, he immediately secured the position of Post-doctoral Research Associate at University College London, for the EU-funded VPH-DARE@ IT (Virtual Physiological Human: Dementia Research Enabled by IT) Project.

Current Projects John extended the mathematical model
created during his PhD (for patient-specificity), and incorporated how lifestyle and environmental factors potentially predispose
individuals to Mild Cognitive Impairment (which can ultimately lead to Alzheimer’s). The VPH-DARE@IT project aims to address
Dementia using computational modelling to study the behaviour of complex systems, and make predictions using computer simulations.

CDT Benefits: Completing a PhD within a CDT positively
benefitted John’s career via access to funding opportunities, skills and attributes of academic supervisors, and the social and networking aspects of the Centre. John says “Essentially, for
me, the CDT provided a unique opportunity develop a skill set that facilitated my evolving interaction with the medical community”.

Impact on the Digital Economy:  As John’s research is focused on enabling earlier and more effective treatment of Dementia, the
expected impact of the project will influence the scientific, clinical and industrial communities globally to improve the healthcare of dementia patients. This will potentially improve quality of
life, reduce the burden on carers, and lower the costs of supporting people with Dementia.

July 2016.

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