Kerstin Heurling

Head of Imaging Science and PET Imaging Director, leading a group of superpowers

Exploratative work is a large and important part of our mission here at Antaros Medical. Based on our motto “nothing is impossible”, we try to create what others do not. Of course, this attitude makes it all the more fun to lead our research department.

Imaging Science is a group of about 20 people tasked with breaking new ground in the field of imaging, usually as part of a customer assignment, but sometimes as a completely stand-alone research project. Thanks to Antaros Medical reinvesting a large part of its profits back into research, we are very research-intensive relative to our size. This makes us strong at delivering tailor-made solutions for clinical trials for our customers.

Many superpowers in the Imaging Group
Imaging Science comprises people with PhDs in MRI or PET and radiology nurses. We are a competence-rich group with many different strengths and backgrounds. No matter what the customer requests, there’s always someone who has worked with something similar and can contribute with their experience. Several of us have also worked with drug development before and can add the drug development perspective. I see my role less as providing immediate direction and more as providing a longer-term perspective and making sure everyone is fine. Of course, we do stoke the classic rivalry between MRI and PET by constantly emphasizing one method as more complex or better than the other whilst being well aware that in reality they complement each other.

“We are very research intensive relative to our size”

Multifaceted yet focused
Other companies are also developing imaging technology, but few master both MRI and PET and also focus on metabolism, cardio-vascular, liver and kidney diseases. We’re simply more multifaceted than most of our competitors, without losing our imaging focus. Larger pharmaceutical companies sometimes have a few people with this expertise in-house, but not an entire imaging department that focuses on how to measure the effects of their compounds. That’s why they turn to us when they need specific or collaborative development power. We advise our clients which imaging markers to include in their studies. Not only can we deliver the established methods for large, late-phase studies, for example, but in collaboration with our customers, we can also develop new methods to investigate specific drug mechanisms.

A dissertation on Alzheimer’s disease led to Gothenburg and Antaros Medical
My PhD studies at the Uppsala University focused on the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease by imaging the brain using PET scanning and data from industry led clinical studies. When I had finished my doctoral dissertation, I moved to Gothenburg for my Post Doc. Whilst at university, I met Olof Eriksson who is a PET imaging expert at Antaros Medical and a leading researcher in metabolic PET at the University of Uppsala. Before going on paternity leave, he wondered if I would like to take on his role temporarily. I started working at Antaros Medical part-time, liked it, and quickly became a full-time employee. After I had been at Antaros Medical for just over a year, I was asked if I wanted to lead the Imaging Science Group part-time. Today, I spend almost all of my time with the group because it has almost doubled in size since I started. My husband and I have settled more permanently in Gothenburg. One and a half years ago we had a daughter. Now we’re about to move from our small apartment in the city to a newly built, semi-detached house near the sea. We’re actually going there today – it’s the first time we get to enter our house, which is incredibly exciting.