Partner interview: Lefteris Koumakis of the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH)

September 13, 2018

What is your position?

I am a collaborating researcher at the Computational BioMedicine Laboratory (CBML) of the Institute of Computer Science (ICS) of Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH).

How long have you been working in your current position and what is your previous experience?

Since 2014, I am a collaborating researcher and prior to that I worked as a technical staff member at CBML FORTH. My research interests include machine learning algorithms and data mining techniques, clinical decision support systems, medical and genomics data analysis and natural language processing. In the past I worked on the design and implementation of service-oriented architectures and I have experience in formal validation and evaluation procedures for software.

What is your role and what work do you do within the iManageCancer project?

FORTH has the technical coordination of iManageCancer, developed the Personal Healthcare Record (PHR), which is also the backbone of the iManageCancer architecture, contributed to the architecture of iManageCancer and provided the Security and Semantic Integration Layers. Furthermore, FORTH is the leader of work package 8. The work package aims to extract information from the diverse data of iManageCancer and transform it into an understandable structure for better knowledge and further use. The implemented framework (Smart Analytics Framework) provides an end-to-end solution for not IT users to analyse and understand the data collected from the iManageCancer tools.

How does your work relate to the work of other partners?

There is a lot of interaction with all of the other partners of the project. We started the collaboration with the iManageCancer partners to gather user’s requirements and the design of the solution. We collaborated closely with the technical partners since we provided the semantic/interoperability layer and the security layer of the platform and we are responsible for the deployment and maintenance of the iManageCancer solution. Furthermore, we collaborate with the clinical partners since the PHR is designed and developed using iterative incremental processes based on stakeholder’s (patients, citizens, clinical care providers) feedback.

What have been/are the biggest challenges for your work throughout the project?

iManageCancer provided a plethora of tools and services for cancer patients. The iManageCancer solution is envisaged as a personal container of heterogeneous sources of information (medical, environmental, lifestyle, dietary habits, psycho-emotional status, vital signs etc.) all blended in a single framework, utilizing modern information and communication technologies, providing long-term and consistent health information along a person’s timeline and under the control of the patient. The integration of the tools and their (seamless) interaction was a challenging task. Another challenge we had to face at FORTH was during the development of the Smart Analytical Framework. Due to lack of real patient data, the initial implementation of SAF was based on artificial but realistic data.

What do you expect will be one of the most interesting things to come out the project once it has finished?

iManageCancer designed and developed one of the first self-management and collaborative platforms for cancer diseases with the patient in a central role for the decision-making process. In my view, the most interesting thing to come out is the acceptance of the users/patients for such a solution and the elevation of their health literacy. In conjunction to the empowerment of the patient, we expect to provide the healthcare professionals with valuable clinical information about the patients’ cancer state and help assess adherence to therapy, physiological and psychological status.