People at IEMR: Emil Espe

Emil Espe, Postdoctoral fellow in the Sjaastad group.

Emil Espe is a postdoc and a physicist at IEMR, and is a part of the K.G. Jebsen CCR center that just was granted extension.

Emil was recently appointed as steering group leader of the K.G. Jebsen Academy for Young Medical Researchers, whose mission is to strengthen the collaboration between young researchers affiliated with the different Jebsen centres.


What is your field of research or expertise?

—I work at the interface between physics and medicine. Specifically, I use physics trying to better understand how heart disease progresses, and to develop better methods to measure changes in the structure and the function of the heart using magnetic resonance imaging.

The main focus of the Jebsen center is translational research. How is it to work as a physicist in this environment?

—My main task as a physicist is to contribute to driving the imaging technology forward. To achieve this, we typically develop and validate novel imaging and analysis tools using our ultrahigh-field preclinical MR laboratory, and then transfer these methods to the clinical MR systems in the hospital. This way, the methodology we develop may be used both in mechanistic preclinical research and in clinical studies.

Are there any challenges in working as a researcher in the hospital without a medical degree?

—I believe that the most exciting research projects involve people with different backgrounds, where everyone contribute with their expertise. The clinical projects I’m involved in is a result of a great collaboration between medical and non-medical personnel, and the treasured collaboration with the University of Oslo and the Oslo University Hospital. For sure—it would be impossible for me to do my research alone!

Why did you first become interested in research?

—As long as I can remember, I have been interested in understanding how stuff works. I really got the taste of medical-oriented physics during my Master’s degree (where I looked at how cancer cells responds to radioactive radiation), and I have not looked back since!

What scientific paper have you read that made you the most excited?

—This is a difficult question, there are so many to choose between! I think I would like to highlight a 2017 JACC paper from our colleagues at Rikshospitalet. In this work, Thomas Stokke et al elegantly unveiled new details on how the heart’s ejection of blood is linked to the physical deformation of the heart muscle. This work emphasizes the importance of careful measurement of the motion of the heart.

What are your goals for the near future?

—One of my goals is to develop an even better MRI method for measuring how well the heart is filled with blood. This may sound easy, but is surprisingly complex—and is relevant for a large number of patients.

What is the best thing about working at IEMR?

—The best thing with IEMR is the wonderful mix of people from different disciplines. I love discovering common grounds and discussing issues of common interest with my colleagues.

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