Perspectives on the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board internship pilot project

February 1, 2023
Internship Stories Biomedical Imaging EBIB Training Opportunities

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, both in Turku, Finland. We spoke to Diana Toivola, Head of the Master’s of Biomedical Imaging programme, Åbo Akademi University, and Pekka Ruusuvuori, Assistant Professor in bioimage informatics at the University of Turku, to learn more about the impact of this internship programme.

“First, I would like to say that it is wonderful that Euro-BioImaging has initiated this internship programme in collaboration with the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board. It is really valuable for the students,” says Diana Toivola. “And we feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to participate in the pilot internship program.”

Impact on career path

Two students from University of Turku/Åbo Akademi University, Annesha Fariha and Ada Pajari, were selected by Euro-BioImaging Industry Board members TissueGnostics and ZEISS to do their internship in a corporate environment in fall 2022. Each of the students were at a different point in their degree and the internships were thematically quite different.

Indeed, Annesha Fariha’s internship at TissueGnostics focused on establishing a framework to compare different segmentation algorithms in histopathology, while Ada Pajari’s internship at ZEISS balanced wet lab and office work, and included annotating images to contribute to machine learning algorithms. Both students were well integrated in their respective teams, and learned a lot about working in a corporate environment. Annesha was at the beginning of her second year of studies when she did her internship, while Ada had already completed her second year. Yet, both agreed that their internship experience was influential and would have an impact on the future direction of their research.

The academic perspective

“Overall, it was definitely very easy to set the internship programme up. The students are motivated to make connections outside the university environment,” says Pekka Ruusuvuori.

Pekka Ruusuvuori (photo on the right) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Turku. He supervised Annesha Fariha’s internship at TissueGnostics in collaboration with Alain Pitiot, from the Research & Development department at TissueGnostics. Annesha’s experience was unique because she combined her Master’s project with her internship, requiring additional coordination between the university and the company.

“As an academic, I find it very interesting and useful to be connected to companies that are working in the field. It is very important for us at universities to see that what we are teaching at university is relevant for the companies. We are pleased to see that the skills and methods we teach our students are really needed,” says Pekka Ruusuvuori.

Industry perspective

Both ZEISS and TissueGnostics agreed that the EBIB internship program was beneficial for them. For TissueGnostics, a small company that provides solutions for Precision Medicine and Next-Generation Digital Pathology, it’s about networking and increasing their applicant pool, since internships are an opportunity to mentor and recruit the next generation of employees. For ZEISS, an internationally leading manufacturer of light, electron, X-ray and ion microscope systems with solutions for correlative microscopy, it’s about interacting with interested, motivated students from around the world early in their career and showing them that private companies also need researchers.

Next steps

“It’s invaluable for the students to have networks, to go abroad, to see different cultures, and experience both academic and industry work environments. If students can get this kind of experience during their Master’s degree, it’s really fantastic,” continues Diana.

“It would be nice to have more industry partners, with different perspectives in imaging, in order to expand the programme,” concludes Diana.

And that’s just what Euro-BioImaging Industry Board coordinator, Claudia Pfander, has in mind. “After this positive pilot program, we definitely plan to expand this program by involving more companies from the Industry Board and of course offering this opportunity to additional Master’s programs,” she says.

Diana Toivola interacting with a student in front of the microscope.

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