Interview with Catherine Van Der Straeten

Interview with Catherine Van Der Straeten

Posted on: 19-06-2018


Catherine Van Der Straeten is Head of the Clinical Research and Innovation Institute and Network at Ghent University Hospital, Belgium, President of ISTA London 2018, and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Imperial College London.


The 31st ISTA Annual Congress comes to London in October 2018, what can delegates expect from the Congress and why should they attend?

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The congress will provide a forum for delegates to discuss new and foundational topics in the field of technology in arthroplasty.

Delegates will hear from leaders in arthroplasty research, who define the future developments in this field. The faculty incorporates eminent speakers with significant international reputations and top researchers who promise to be the big names of the future.

Key topics include:

  • New technologies for evaluation of implant performance
  • Smart implants and instruments
  • Solutions for periprosthetic joint infection
  • Adoption and cost-effectiveness of disruptive technologies
  • Virtual and augmented reality solutions for surgical training


What future developments within arthroplasty research do you believe offer the most exciting potential for patients?

Infection prevention (polyethylene loaded with antibiotic and pain meds) – smart implants – ceramic hip resurfacing – wearable devices for follow-up – AI – software programmes
and AR/VR for accurate positioning.


How do you ensure appropriate levels of public and patient engagement within your research activities?

Through a PPI and PPE platform for research and surveys on adoption of innovation.


Within a year of joining the Imperial College team, the UK referendum delivered a BREXIT decision. How did that impact your role, and what do you think the likely future impact will be on your work and Orthopaedic Research in the UK and Europe?

The Brexit campaign before the referendum was very nasty and I have been really amazed at the lies about Europe and Europeans that were written in the newspapers. I remember one newspaper heading on the front page quoting Boris Johnson drawing comparisons to the EU and Hitler. I was shocked. After Brexit, we felt the atmosphere was changing slowly but surely and some of our European friends were insulted and told to go home. ICL tried to comfort its many European employees but the uncertainty made quite a few people leave. I do not believe Brexit will have a huge impact on orthopaedic research since that is global anyway. Personally I will still collaborate with colleagues in the UK.


What are the main challenges for a young researcher moving into the MSK field?

Keeping up with all innovations, understanding their potential value and predicting which ones will have the biggest impact. Regarding fundamental research on the cellular and molecular level, unveiling the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and finding a cure is a major challenge.


As the current president of ISTA, what legacy might you hope to leave when your term ends?

Even though ISTA is about technology, it is a conservative society and I hope ISTA London will be remembered as innovative and focussing on patient-centred solutions. I want
to make it an exciting and interactive meeting.


Drawing upon your career experience, what is the most valuable advice you would pass on to others?

Never give up a positive and problem-solving attitude. Do well and don’t look back.


Which three researchers (living or passed) would you like to spend an evening with and why?

Albert Einstein: I admire how he was able to explain very complex physics with simplicity
Marie Curie: She had no fear, was an extraordinary scientist and also a wife and mother
James Watson: I would like to hear him tell the story of Rosalind Franklin and what her contribution was in the discovery of the double helix. I believe it was crucial.


Who do you think is going to win the world cup?

I wish Belgium wins!

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