Originally trained as an electro-mechanical engineer in Belgium, I continued with an additional MSc in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ghent, Belgium in 1999. I followed this up with a PhD where I studied the interaction between the heart and implantable mechanical pumps (Ventricular Assist Devices; VADs) via computer models and hydraulic models ('mock loops').
I was invited to Pittsburgh, PA to be part of the development team of the PediaFlow device; a small magnetically levitated blood pump intended to save the lives of newborns and toddlers. The great people and opportunities at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University also drew me in a lot of side projects in the biomedical field, most but not all related to the cardiovascular system.
In 2009 I started as assistant professor at the newly created ArtOrg Center of the University of Bern as the specialist in cardiac engineering. Besides a major focus on VADs and new control modalities for them, my research also ventured into the world of perfusion with in vivo and in vitro experiments and the construction of simulators. A project related to heart valve repair eventually spun off into the start-up CoreMedic, which is now performing clinical trials of our valve repair tool.
Since 2015 I am active in the research efforts of the Cardiocentro Ticino, linked to the Cardiac Surgery department. Here we attempt to make surgery safer by investigating overlooked and ignored problems that deteriorate the quality of life after surgery. Particularly of interest are solid and gaseous emboli that can enter the blood stream during cardiac procedures and may cause neurologic deficits such as stroke or cognitive decline. The origin and distribution of such emboli and potential brain protection methods are studied in several homemade models in our laboratory.