Education is the greatest gift we can give to the next generation, which is why Euro-BioImaging is collaborating with several dedicated Master’s degree programs in biological or biomedical imaging. To provide practical training to these young imaging scientists, the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board (EBIB) initiated a pilot Internship program for master’s students in 2021. The pilot involves two EBIB member companies, ZEISS and TissueGnostics, and the MSc programme in Biomedical Imaging at Åbo Akademi University and University of Turku, Finland. We spoke to Annesha M. Fariha, one of the first students at University of Turku to benefit from this opportunity, as well as her mentors at TissueGnostics, to learn how this program can be interesting for both students and companies alike.
Annesha Fariha working at TissueGnostics
Annesha Fariha is a second-year student at the University of Turku for an MSc in Biomedical Imaging, a two-year program with an interdisciplinary curriculum providing a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art knowledge related to many different areas in cell biology and biomedicine. Before joining this program, Annesha had completed a BSc in biomedical engineering. In March 2022, she learned about the opportunity to do an internship in the private sector, with either TissueGnostics or ZEISS, both members of the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board.
Interesting opportunity for students
“It seemed really interesting to me as a student to get an opportunity to work outside of academia during my Master’s,” explains Annesha. I already had a little exposure to academia during my internship at the Turku PET Centre. And so I was enthusiastic to apply to TissueGnostics because I was somewhat familiar with their StrataQuest software, which is able to analyse histopathological images using machine learning and deep neural network algorithms.
TissueGnostics is a solution provider for Precision Medicine and Next-Generation Digital Pathology. The company offers fully integrated microscopy platforms with support for a variety of applications in human, animal and plant tissue, as well as image analysis solutions using AI and machine-learning. Since AI was a topic that Annesha wanted to work on for her Master’s thesis project, she approached TissueGnostics with the possibility of a master’s thesis project along with the internship.
Dr. Alain Pitiot works in the Research & Development department of TissueGnostics, and was involved in recruiting Annesha. Together with Annesha’s supervisor at University of Turku, Dr. Pekka Ruusuvuori, he defined the scope of the Master’s thesis project, which he co-supervises. First and foremost, it was Annesha’s intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for the project that convinced TissueGnostics that she would be a good candidate for the internship. Furthermore, she had prior experience with image analysis and programming, which allowed her to dive straight into her project.
How it works
Annesha started her internship at TissueGnostic’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, in September 2022. Annesha quickly felt part of the team, enjoying the many insightful discussions in a welcoming, multidisciplinary environment.
“My internship project focuses on establishing a framework to compare different segmentation algorithms in histopathology,” explains Annesha. “But I have interactions with everyone in the office. I have been exposed to so much, including production and even marketing. It’s been really eye-opening.”
“Everything worked out really well,” says Alain. “It was straight-forward to combine Annesha’s internship with her Master’s project.”
“She’s proved very independent and she works on her own quite a lot. It would be really difficult to bring someone on board who doesn’t have experience in image analysis and coding, such as a first year Master’s student. It is also important that interns are interested in industrial development – the work has to translate into a solution.”
Although just a few weeks remain in her 3 month-internship, Annesha has started writing her thesis, under Alain’s supervision. When Annesha returns to Finland, her supervisor at the university will take the lead again, while she continues to collaborate with Alain throughout the thesis-writing process.
From left to right: Dr. Alain Pitiot, Annesha Fariha B.Sc., Dr. Rudolf Jedletzberger.
It’s clearly too early for Annesha to tell if she would consider working in the private sector after her Master’s degree, “But what I’ve learned at TissueGnostics is likely to help me choose a career path and influence the future direction of my research,” she mentions.
From TissueGnostic’s perspective
“The EBIB internship program is really beneficial for a small company like ours,” says Rudolf Jedletzberger, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Tissue Gnostics. “Networking is really important for us – it helps us get our name out there. And working with students is really interesting – it’s a two-way street. We take internships very seriously. We see them as an opportunity to mentor and recruit the next generation of employees. For example, four of our current employees started out with us as interns. And the collaboration with the EBIB internship program broadened our recruitment pool,” concludes the COO.