It’s GSP’s 7th birthday on the 5th December! In celebration, we want to mark this event by exploring the company’s past, present and future achievements from the perspective of our CEO Xavier Golay!
Xavier is both co-founder and CEO of GSP. He was born in Switzerland and completed his Master’s degree in Physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL), followed by a Ph.D. on Functional MRI at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich (ETHZ).
- Hi Xavier, can you tell us what first drew you to work in the field of MRI?
During my undergrad studies at the EPFL (circa 1993) I became an MRI enthusiast after having heard a talk given by Prof. Peter Boesiger - a professor of Biomedical Engineering at ETH Zurich. Prof. Peter Boesiger explained how his group were using MRI to image and quantify patient heart movements in vivo using slides and even a pre-recorded VHS video. It was amazing ! I thought that this was the coolest thing I had ever seen, so I applied to get a stipend to go and do a Ph.D. in his group... and the rest is history, as they say!
- Can you please explain how GSP evolved to become a company?
By the late noughties, I had been working on a non-invasive perfusion method called 'Arterial Spin Labelling' (or ASL) for over 10 years, and I was starting to get frustrated by the fact that nobody was using it clinically. So, together with others, we organised a COST Action, a programme funded by the European Union to establish a network of people all working on this technique to try to push it towards clinical use. Within this network, people started to indicate that it would be good to have a perfusion phantom that could be used as a gold standard to help establish ASL as a quantitative MRI biomarker. As nobody else volunteered, I did.
At around the same time, I met Aaron who was amidst finishing his Ph.D. on the same topic (ASL). Having built a really good and realistic perfusion phantom, I offered him to start a company that was built around developing a gold standard phantom for ASL...and that is how it all began!
...and what are the major milestones you have achieved since it began?
Well, actually GSP emerged as a spin-out company to a small company named Imgenious that Tom, Aaron and I had started prior to GSP. Imgenious focused on creating devices (for the medical field or outside) to help academics (among others) developing ad hoc tools for their research. In 2014, we had the opportunity to apply for an SBRI grant valued at £100k, and that is essentially what gave rise to GSP. After having successfully achieved what we set out to do in this grant, the following year we applied and were successful in obtaining the phase II of SBRI funding (£1M), allowing us to launch the company GSP. In 2017, we managed to raise an additional £840k in private equity, which led GSP to getting its first sales of our QASPER (ASL Perfusion) phantom in 2018. Since then, we have received multiple grants, allowing us to become a go-to company for quantitative and reproducible medical imaging, having developed a whole series of additional phantoms.
- What are the most recent advances of GSP’s that are most exciting and why?
GSP has recently started working in closer collaboration with both NPL and NIST, the two metrological institutes in the UK and US, respectively. I believe that advances in our ability to provide calibration phantoms with values traceable using recognised standards will really allow the field to proceed towards proper calibrated quantitative MRI.
- What are the biggest challenges faced by GSP and the industry at large today?
In relation to the aforementioned, for me, the greatest challenge in the MRI industry today is that of reproducibility. Whilst MRI machines have evolved to become very sophisticated cameras, providing beautiful images, they are pretty bad at providing the same measurements all the time. They rely on the radiologists to interpret the results and check, for example, whether a tumour has grown, or if a patient's brain has shrunk due to Alzheimer's disease. The technologies we are working on now will allow this to change, by providing the vendors with a clear and easy solution to always be able to calibrate their measurements. Consequently, this will allow all images from all vendors to be directly comparable, thereby reducing the noise for all AI/ML-based applications.
- What does the future hold?
As we move into 2022, we will continue to provide de facto Gold Standard Phantoms for Quality Assurance as a primary means for acquiring reproducible imaging. Also, there is no doubt that the future of the company lies within a potential calibration service. It will provide methods and services to calibrate your MRI scans, wherever you are.
Are you as excited as we are about the new innovations that GSP will bring with it? Care to join us? We’re hiring! Check out our current vacancies here.
We are headquartered in Kent, UK, with a global footprint across the US, Asia, Australia and Africa. Below you can see some of our varied customer base: hospitals, academic centres, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies spread across the globe!