Dr. Alexander Gimson is leading Britain’s national team dedicated to improving the country’s existing organ allocation scheme to save more lives.
Dr. Gimson and colleagues at the van der Schaar Lab and Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine (CCAIM) are advocating for OrganITE – a novel machine learning solution whereby organs are offered to patients on the national waitlist based on who has the greatest net life years to gain from the particular organ available.
Organ transplantation is the ultimate treatment for many end-stage organ failures. OrganITE is the first of a number of new decision support tools that will offer organs for transplantation – a more sophisticated assessment of survival with versus without transplantation.
This means the scheme will be able to measure how long a potential recipient can wait before the need to receive an organ. Accounting for organs in this way will decrease waitlist mortality and give clinicians more information before they make decisions about their patients’ treatment journey.
“There remains a scarcity of organs for transplantation which means figuring out the optimum method for allocating donors such that both mortality whilst waiting as well as following transplantation can be minimised remains a tantalising and fascinating area of research,” Dr. Gimson notes.
Minimizing patient mortality has become all the more significant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which, according to Dr. Gimson, has exposed global medicine’s greatest flaws, but has also proffered world-altering opportunities for technological advancement.
“In a post-pandemic world, the issue of how to optimally deliver scarce healthcare resources to improve both individual and population health will be of pressing concern,” Dr. Gimson says. He believes machine learning solutions will have resonance across healthcare systems and medical fields, and the work of researchers at the Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine will become increasingly crucial to informed decision-making. “Better, rational and openly interpretable artificial intelligence methodologies to deliver healthcare will continue to be a major interest for Centres like ours,” he says.
Dr. Gimson has fostered a life-long commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable patients and pushing healthcare systems to better support each individual patient.
After training at King’s College Hospital’s Institute of Liver Studies – home of Europe’s largest liver transplant programme – and serving as a Consultant Hepatologist at the institute for a few years, Dr. Gimson relocated to Cambridge, helping to expand transplantation services beyond London.
Upon moving out of the capital, he joined the Liver Transplant Unit at Cambridge University Hospitals and took up the role of Divisional Director of Medicine at Addenbrooke’s, eventually becoming the National Chair for the Liver Advisory Group at NHS Blood and Transplant – the regulatory authority for liver transplantation in the UK. It is in this role that he has been overseeing the introduction and selection of new organ allocation policies as well as collaborating with CCAIM’s Faculty.
Dr. Gimson is also Chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Sustainability and Transformation Partnership Care Advisory Group and Chairman of the Wardens Trust – an organisation that provides recreational and outdoor facilities for children and adults with disabilities. Set up by his mother and father, Major Richard Gimson and Elspeth Gimson, the Trust supports people with disabilities in engaging with nature and the arts.
Looking to the future, Dr. Gimson is thrilled about CCAIM’s potential to revolutionise clinical decision-making. The future of work in healthcare is being shaped by a combination of AI and machine learning experts who are producing new interpretable methods in prognosis and precision-medicine.
“Our collaboration with front-line clinicians who – with their patients – will be benefiting from decision support tools like OrganITE make the Centre an exciting place to be right now,” he says.