Q&A with Philippe Cinquin

Implantable Glucose BioFuel Cell (IGBFC), connected to a wireless device transmitting in real time data characterizing performance of the IGBFC when implanted in an animal. © TIMC-IMAG, UMR5525 UGA-CNRS

Prof. Philippe Cinquin, University Grenoble Alps

Q: What is the most important goal that you would like to achieve in your professional career ?

A: Invent diagnostic or therapeutic devices and methods useful to as many patients as possible.

Q: Could you share one of the achievements that you’re most proud of ?

A: Invention of an implantable glucose biofuel cell, which I hope will power implanted medical devices, and could be the first of a large family of symbiotic implanted medical devices and robots.

Q: What is the best advice that you’ve received ?

A: ama et fac quod vis (St Augustin). Unperfectly and freely translated into “love and do what you really wish”…

Q: Is there something you could share that you would have done differently pertaining to your professional life? Or advice you’d give an up and coming researcher ?

A: When I completed my medical training and got my MD, I already held a PhD in Applied Mathematics. I was offered a position as a researcher, which I was happy to accept… but which prevented me from applying my medical skills to treating patients. My young skills as a physician were not reinforced by regular use, and very quickly faded away. Although I remained capable to understand medical problems and play the role of an interface between physicians and “scientists”, I became unable to take the responsibility of treating a patient. I advise my younger colleagues who are in this situation to keep a minimal clinical activity, to remain fully operational physicians.

Q: What do you believe is the greatest challenge that we, as CAS researchers, face today ?

A: Invent a “numerical companion”, capable to guarantee the highest surgical Quality to all patients. This numerical companion should be able to advise in real time the surgeon when the procedures he or she performs go out of “good practice guidelines”. Achieving this challenge raises not only scientific and technical issues (define what is a “good practice guideline”; acquire all relevant pre- and per-operative data and estimate in real time a “conceptual distance” between the “good practice guideline” and the actual procedure), but also human and organizational issues (set up and run a cooperative network to share into “observatories” the huge number of data about the performance of surgical procedures which is mandatory in order to define the “good practice guidelines”, taking into account confidentiality issues in order to respect patient’s and surgeon’s privacy).

Q: Could you share something personal about yourself? A photo, a story, a hobby, a favourite book, etc.

A: Although I am not a very good sailor, I love skipping sailboats, I love the sea, and I love poems about the sea, especially “L’homme et la mer” (man and the sea) by Baudelaire (English version is provided below).

Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir, tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame
Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer.

Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image;
Tu l’embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton cœur
Se distrait quelques fois de sa propre rumeur
Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.

Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets;
Homme, nul n’a sondé le fond de tes abîmes;
O mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes,
Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!

Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords,
Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
O lutteurs éternels, O frères implacables!

Free man! the sea is to thee ever dear!
The sea is thy mirror, thou regardest thy soul
In its mighteous waves that unendingly roll,
And thy spirit is yet not a chasm less drear.

Thou delight’st to plunge deep in thine image down;
Thou tak’st it with eyes and with arms in embrace,
And at times thine own inward voice would’st efface
With the sound of its savage ungovernable moan.

You are both of you, sombre, secretive and deep:
Oh mortal, thy depths are foraye unexplored,
Oh sea—no one knoweth thy dazzling hoard,
You both are so jealous your secrets to keep!

And endless ages have wandered by,
Yet still without pity or mercy you fight,
So mighty in plunder and death your delight:
Oh wrestlers! so constant in enmity!


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