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A World Without Cancer: The Ultimate Goal with Wesley Gilson, Senior Director of MR Business Development for Siemens Healthineers North America
Episode

Wesley Gilson, Senior Director of MR Business Development for Siemens Healthineers North America

A World Without Cancer: The Ultimate Goal

Access to diagnostic imaging is a challenge many patients still face around the globe. In this episode, we hear from Dr. Wesley Gilson, the senior director of MR Business Development for Siemens Healthineers North America, about the expansion plans he is leading for diagnostic care. He discusses accessibility challenges and opportunities and the latest developments through innovations that derive from collaboration and technology integration.

 

Following the acquisition of Varian by Siemens Healthineers, the recent marriage of advanced diagnostic imaging and leading-edge cancer therapeutics prompted by the merger is introducing promising outcomes. Dr. Gilson explains why and how many unprivileged patients don’t have healthcare that provides access to diagnostics and treatment. He also raves about how the collaboration between Siemens Healthineers and Varian, will improve the targeting of cancer diseases, a health concern for a large portion of the global population.

 

Tune in to this episode to listen about his work expanding access and bringing more advanced healthcare to more people worldwide!

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A World Without Cancer: The Ultimate Goal with Wesley Gilson, Senior Director of MR Business Development for Siemens Healthineers North America

About the Guest:

Wesley Gilson, Ph.D., is the Senior Director of MR Business Development at Siemens Healthineers North America. In his 20+ year career in medical imaging, Gilson has held numerous research and development, collaborations, marketing, and strategy roles. In his current role, he leads a business development and marketing team focused on expanding access to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) through growth into emerging markets. As Artificial Intelligence Lead, Wes oversaw strategy, marketing, communications, and collaborations for AI across the Siemens Healthineers business in North America. He has co-authored 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and published 11 patent applications (4 granted). Gilson completed his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia and a postdoctoral fellowship in Radiology at Johns Hopkins University. He resides in Maryland.

 

Outcomes Rocket_Wes Gilson.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Outcomes Rocket_Wes Gilson.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Saul Marquez:
Hey everybody, Saul Marquez, and welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket. Such a pleasure to have you back on. Today I’m privileged to be with the outstanding Dr. Wesley Gilson. He’s the senior director of MR Business Development for Siemens Healthineers North America. In his twenty-plus-year career in medical imaging, Gilson has held numerous research and development, collaborations, marketing, and strategy roles. And in his current role, he leads the business development and marketing team focused on expanding access to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) through growth into emerging markets. In his previous role as Artificial Intelligence Lead, he oversaw strategy, marketing, communications, and collaborations for AI across Siemens Healthineers business in North America. He has co-authored fifty peer-reviewed journal articles and published eleven patent applications; four of them have been granted. He completed his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia and a postdoctoral fellowship in radiology at Johns Hopkins. And he’s speaking to us from Maryland. So, such a pleasure to have you here with us, Wes.

Wes Gilson:
Thanks, Saul. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. So, you know, one of the things that we always love to know behind the movers and shakers of health care, like yourself, is: what inspires your work in health care?

Wes Gilson:
Well, I think it’s really a passion to make a difference. You know, health care impacts everyone, and I think everyone deserves access to quality health care, and that’s what’s exciting about working with Siemens Healthineers and the great people at the company. You know, as an engineer working in such a medtech engineering company, I’m inspired to develop technologies to enhance that health care and really make it accessible to more and more people. So I think that’s really what inspires me to work in health care.

Saul Marquez:
That’s beautiful, making that difference. And, you know, it’s interesting, the imaging space has been really a pioneer in some of the use of AI and machine learning, so it’s great to hear that you’ve got that background. And so, talk to us a little bit about how Siemens Healthineers are adding value to the health care ecosystem.

Wes Gilson:
Well, you know, Siemens Healthineers is a large company. I think we’re somewhere around 65,000 employees worldwide, and we make technologies that touch millions of lives each day, and that happens throughout our entire kind of business. We have businesses in things like surgery, advanced therapies, and diagnostic imaging, which I’ll talk a little bit more about because that’s where I focus, but we also have a lot of advancements in laboratory diagnostics, point of care diagnostics, and ultrasound, as well as the latest addition, which is quite exciting to me, to the Siemens Healthineers business, which is Varian. You may be familiar with Varian. Varian is really the world leader in targeting cancer and developing therapies for cancer, and it’s kind of a really cool match between a company… The Siemens Healthineers kind of mission is to, is to make an impact or to, as we say, pioneer breakthroughs in health care for everyone everywhere, and if you think about the Varian piece with cancer, something that affects basically everybody you know, combining that with some of the therapies, therapeutic technologies that we develop in our company, and the diagnostic imaging, it’s a really perfect match, I think. And so, this is where I see we add value. Siemens Healthineers adds value to the ecosystem, the health care ecosystems, in that we kind of bring together a lot of advanced technologies and engineering breakthroughs that are able to target the health care concerns of a large portion of the global population. And that’s really what excites me about working in health care, working with such a great medtech company.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, you guys are just an incredible company. Just the advances that have come out, and specifically your division, the imaging division are just, you know, everybody knows. Siemens is a leader in the space. What would you say, and maybe it’s the Varian angle on this or another one, make you guys different and special?

Wes Gilson:
So, I guess I’ll talk more about the business that I’m in, which is in the diagnostic imaging business because it does match with all of these different components. Specifically, I work in magnetic resonance imaging, so you kind of break down that 65,000 employees into a smaller business; and the smaller business being magnetic resonance imaging, which you may have some familiarity with, hopefully never having had to have one yourself, but I’m sure you’ve known people in the past that have. It makes a big difference in being able to care for people, whether that being able to diagnose what’s wrong with them and make decisions about what types of therapy are needed, or treatment, or possibly no treatment at all. This is where I got my start. My academic start was in MRI as an engineer and as a scientist and I’m brought into the Siemens Healthineers world to do R&D. And what I found in the process is that I would say Siemens Healthineers is really one of the leading innovators in developing new techniques and new… Both the new hardware as well as the new applications associated with magnetic resonance imaging. And specifically, today, following, kind of, on that mission of bringing more advanced diagnostics to everyone, everywhere, as I said before, we’ve been working on developing new strategies and new systems that are able to improve accessibility to care. So there’s this whole concept of democratization of health care, and in fact, if you think about some of the most advanced technologies, Magnetic Resonance Imaging being one of those, oftentimes there’s a large number of people around the world that don’t have access to it. And so what we’ve focused on is, really, how do we lower that barrier to access for patients? And that barrier can come in a wide variety of ways, whether that’s just people’s geographical location to it, whether it’s people’s afforda… Whether it’s the affordability of the technology, or whether that’s, actually, physical ability to get inside of a system to be able to get the diagnostic imaging that they need.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, access has always been a challenge and I think, you know, it’s interesting that you bring that up Wes, because, you know, as these access opportunities come up, or even like, like third world countries, right? The affordability piece, it’s sort of clashing with this new hospital-in-the-home thing. It seems and feels like, in addressing the access opportunity we’re also going to be able to address the hospital-in-the-home opportunity. Can you comment on that?

Wes Gilson:
So, you know, the hospital-in-the-home is a, it’s an interesting topic, right? Because we think about if you want to bring care to patients, where does… Where, hopefully, is everyone? Hopefully, everyone does have a home and they may not necessarily be in locations near clinics or near hospitals, etc. and so, and I think, even in the context of, as COVID came about, we looked at things like telehealth, right, bringing that care into the home and I think there will continue to be an expansion of care. As we… As I mentioned to you before, we have a group in our entire business that’s focused on point of care technologies, and I think as we look at bringing care into the homes, it’s got to be about advancing some of those Point of Care technologies.

Saul Marquez:
For sure. It’s great to hear you guys are working on those, Wes. For sure. And that always leads to a core theme on our podcast is improving outcomes. Can you, can you share how, how you guys have been doing that?

Wes Gilson:
Sure. So I mean, as we think about what can be done to improve outcomes, it’s about understanding where we are today and where we need to get to. And so, as we’ve been focused on trying to identify where those barriers are or, maybe barriers is not the right word, we’re trying to focus on where those… Where that lack of care is. I think that’s where we’re trying to drive up the outcome. So looking at where the deficiencies are and saying, “Hey, if we can, if we can insert ourselves into those places where there are deficiencies, then we can ultimately drive up the outcomes in the end.” I mentioned to you before one of the partnerships we have or… By bringing in a company like Varian, this is an exciting opportunity where we can marry, or more closely marry, the diagnostic imaging and some of the therapeutic approaches together, right? So Varian, having a large position in the cancer therapeutics, combining that with the advanced diagnostics that we have, we believe that by marrying those two together, bringing them closer together, that we can drive outcomes, and then we can drive improvements and outcomes, I should say, right? Not just outcomes, but drive improvements and outcomes, and I think that’s something that we are starting to see: where that marriage is going to lead us. Still early in the phases of kind of integrating together, but I think that that’s going to be an ultimate goal or ultimate end where, you know, as Varian says, their motto is, “Imagine a world without the fear of cancer.” Can you imagine if we can bring imaging together with that cancer therapeutics and, included with some of our laboratory diagnostics, we can ultimately lead to a world without cancer? That would be awesome.

Saul Marquez:
That would be really awesome and certainly a vision I think all of us could get behind. You know, Wes, you mentioned the partnership you guys have there, and we’ve been, you know, a lot of the interviews we’ve been having have been centered around this theme of collaboration and how that’s the new currency. There’s a lot of, there’s a lot of people doing great things, and the fragmentation that exists in health care overall is an opportunity. And this partnership that you have is a great example of what’s been a theme in the last few episodes we’ve done. It’s “collaboration is the new currency,” and you guys are doing such a great job with that. You know, it’s just awesome to hear of the possibilities that will come from the relationship you guys have with them. What are you most excited about? Today.

Wes Gilson:
Well, you know, so collaboration actually is at the core of success in my mind. So I’ll just go back to when I first started with Siemens Healthineers, I actually was involved in the research collaboration sides of things, so research and development as well as collaborating closely with some of our most high-end academic partners. And I think the success of being able to move forward and tackle some of the world’s biggest problems are only accomplished through those collaborations. So I’m glad to hear that’s a common theme amongst many of the other guests that you’ve had on your program, because I think that we can’t make any progress or we can make very little progress in tackling the problems that we have in health care and in wellness, for that matter, without said collaborations where you bring together the greatest minds from the greatest disciplines. Bring them together, and you can solve some really big problems together. So that’s really what excites me most about what’s happening today in health care, is that there is a strong sense of collaboration as the way to move forward.

Saul Marquez:
That’s great. And it’s between organizations, it’s between caregivers and industry, and even, I feel like, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts here Wes, is, you know, the interoperability challenge. Like, for a long time there’s been islands of devices inside of the acute care setting that are not communicating, specifically to the EMR, or maybe getting data to people that… The clinicians that need it most. What about on that side? You know, I feel like there’s an opportunity there too. Any thoughts on integrations?

Wes Gilson:
There is still a lot of work to be done. So in the interoperability space, you’re right. As we develop new technologies, if you don’t have certain standards there, then you have… Then it’s difficult to collaborate, right? It’s difficult to develop technologies that work together. And as we, particularly as we advance the digitalization age where you have the Internet of Things and all of these different technologies that need to network together and to then bring that data together and be able to drive forward things like artificial intelligence or technologies that get driven by having multiple pieces of data that come together and then are able to do analytics that one never could have thought were possible before, you need to have a more cohesive… You need to have that interoperability so that you can work together. Otherwise, you’ve got a whole bunch of technologies that may be great on their own, but they’re losing sight or not able to accomplish as much as they would be able to do together. So it’s not just about us collaborating together, it’s also about our technologies collaborating together.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that’s great. And you know, Wes it’s great to hear you guys are thinking about it and working toward it. It definitely has been one of the things, and imaging seems to be one of the things that comes up, you know, around being able to connect. So it’s great to hear that the thought leader in the space is working to make that happen. Something to be really excited about. Wes, this has been great. Obviously, we could chat for a long time. We could do a part two and a part three, but we’re here at the end. So I’d love if you could just share a closing thought and where the listeners could learn more about you and the company and the work that you guys are doing.

Wes Gilson:
Sure. I appreciate that. So, also, I mean, my closing thought is really that as we… As we look to health care and as we look to being able to expand access and bring more advanced health care to more and more folks, it’s… I think it’s incumbent upon us in the medtech world and then in the health care device world to think about what those challenges are for those individuals that may not have access to it today and think about what we can do to drive down those barriers and develop new technologies for that, and it may come in a number of different ways. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need to stop innovating and pushing forward for advancing what we can do today with our most advanced stuff but also thinking about what we can do to bring even the level of care to those that don’t have it to a higher level than it is today, and I think that’s an important part for us. What I’d like to say is that Siemens Healthineers, I think, is looking at this entire picture. We drive the health care field forward with the latest advancements and innovations and digitalizations to be able to improve overall care while also considering the equality and equity of care across the world. And with that, I would love to invite people to check out the Siemens Healthineers website. You can do a quick search on it and see all the things that we’re involved in, both in the United States as well as globally. And I’m more than happy to have your listeners connect up with me on LinkedIn. That’s probably the easiest way to connect to me. You can also find Siemens Healthineers on LinkedIn and find out more about us.

Saul Marquez:
Amazing Wes. Amazing. You, your company, have always been a company that I follow and admire just for the thought leadership and the, and the work that you guys do. So thanks for the invitation. Folks. You’re listening today. Check them out. Go to the website. Reach out to Wes. If something that he said sparked an idea for collaboration inside of you. All of the links to today’s podcast will be inside of the show notes, so make sure you go there. Check those out, click and go visit and learn more. Wes, just want to say thank you again for our time together today.

Wes Gilson:
Thank you so much, Saul. Have a great day.

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Things You’ll Learn:

  • Collaborations and innovations improve overall healthcare while also considering the equity and accessibility of care across the globe. 
  • Around the world, patients face various challenges in order to access diagnostic imaging. 
  • The merger between Varian and Siemens Healthineers has added value to the healthcare ecosystem. 
  • Advancing point-of-care technologies can improve opportunities in healthcare access. 
  • Device interoperability and technology development are important for data analysis. 

 

Resources: