Meet the Partner - Keri Hildick, Perspectum
To mark International Women's Day on 8 March plus Endometriosis Awareness Month during March, we talk to Keri Hildick – Chief Revenue Officer at Perspectum.
Perspectum is leading on one of NCIMI's exemplar projects, working with Dr Ippokratis Sarris, University of Oxford and King's Fertility, to bring together AI and medical imaging to meet unmet need for patients living with endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition where cells that are normally found inside the womb are found growing outside, causing bleeding and inflammation.
The condition was recently highlighted by the BBC for its devastating effect on women who suffer from it – beyond painful and heavy periods to affecting women's education, career, relationships and mental health.
Keri talks to us about how Perspectum and fellow NCIMI partners are looking at new ways to detect endometriosis.
What is your role within Perspectum and What does it involve?
I founded and headed up the Business Development Team, which is responsible for identifying and driving revenue. It's one thing to build fantastic products, it's another to take them to market and into the clinical. I also co-lead our Pharma Solutions Business Unit, which is dedicated to providing imaging services for clinical trials.
One thing about Perspectum that I value is that we really focus on the patient. Yes, we have an eye on how to make money, but ultimately, it's about how it's going to benefit people and improve the patient journey.
How did you work up to this role?
I joined the company five years ago, as head of business development.
I started out my career working in industry at GlaxoSmithKline, where I was involved in early drug discovery programmes. I moved into Academia, where I obtained a PhD in Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Bristol. During my PhD, I spent time at the Royal Society, working in policy engagement, and then joined a market research firm as an analyst, after completing my studies.
That brought me into the Liver Disease space (where Perspectum does most of its business today) but I was looking for something with a practical application.
It was a friend who referred me to Perspectum and our CEO, Banjo (Rajarshi Banerjee). When I joined, Perspectum had just obtained FDA clearance for its first product, LiverMultiScan. I was brought on as part of the company's commercial expansion.
Yes the role is around generating sales, but it's also about the strategy behind sales, identify suitable markets and being involved in the longer-term strategy for growth. Perspectum is certainly on a growth curve.
Our products are available in around 300 scanners worldwide, with a lot of our clinical trial work taking place in the US. LiverMultiScan was our first product but through our partnership with NCIMI, we are looking at disease indications in other organs.
What's great about working with NCIMI?
It's such a unique collection of expertise – we have University of Oxford, GE Healthcare, plus smaller, agile industry start-ups. It's a pretty exciting and unique collection of people Claire (Bloomfield – NCIMI' CEO) has pulled together.
It's really about bridging what we call the "Valley of Death" – the barrier to clinical adoption. Some of the technologies we develop in industry never manage to make it into the clinical space.
But through NCIMI we are taking the concept of advanced medical imaging and AI and creating pathways to apply them to improve standard of care. We are able to see across the life cycle of different products, from concept to development right to use in a clinical context.
There is huge potential in AI in healthcare, and through NCIMI we can unlock it.
What work is Perspectum inputting to the NCIMI network?
We are working at the cutting edge of diagnosis of endometriosis. We're keen to raise awareness of this condition - It can be as common as diabetes amongst women. And it's not one condition – it presents in different ways.
Currently, endometriosis can take, on average, seven and half years to diagnose. Usually this is via laparoscopy – an invasive procedure.
We are looking at the current pathway to understand if we can improve the precision with which certain types of endometriosis are diagnosed, using a combination of ultrasound and advanced MRI. In particular, this could help with deep-infiltrating endometriosis – an advanced stage of the disease where the invading endometrial tissue is 5mm deep or more.
As part of the project we will be exploring image fusion of ultrasound and MRI.
This a new venture for Perspectum. It's also the only women's health exemplar within NCIMI, so that's unique and exciting.
We're also building our partnership with the patient associations, such as Endometriosis UK. We've engaged with them to enable Perspectum to become an Endometriosis friendly employer for any of our staff who may need support. We know this affects 10% of women, and is the cause of 30% of fertility problems - with around 200 employees, over half of whom are female, there are going to be colleagues who are affected.
Perspectum is also involved with two other exemplar projects with NCIMI – Assessing diabetes with multi-organ imaging, and early identification of haemochromatosis, using our LiverMultiScan imaging software.
How will you be celebrating International Women's Day?
It's a Sunday this year, so I will be spending it with my 7-month-old son. I'll probably be taking him swimming and enjoying some downtime.
I'm returning to work in two weeks' time, and my husband is taking over with paternity leave.
When you work for a company you are passionate about, and where colleagues are also friends, it's easy to keep in touch with the team. My son has been in his first business meeting already and I've had a few calls with him in the background. I think his first word will be "endometriosis"!
Perspectum is a family-friendly company to work for. Our CEO has two small children too, and we have a family room set up in our offices, where you can bring your kids in for the day if needed.
I hope to be setting a good example to him - they say children of working mums go on to be really successful!