Pioneering Paths in Biomedical Engineering

Insights from Carmen’s Journey

In the dynamic realm of Biomedical Engineering, Carmen González, R&D and Clinical Affairs Manager at Fresenius Kabi MedTech, navigates the landscape of science and technology with innovation and resilience. In this illuminating dialogue, Carmen shares her experiences and reflections, offering a glimpse into the enriching journey that has defined her career.

Iris Brujan

Roots of Inspiration: A Legacy of Science and Exploration

What drives an 18-year-old Carmen to study Telecommunications Engineering?

First of all, I come from a home where both parents are doctors and have a strong background in science. For me, choosing to study science was not something “different” or unusual; rather, it was a natural path. 

Secondly, my choice was influenced by the increasing presence of technology in people’s homes and daily lives. Curiosity to understand and be an active part of this technological world was a key factor. Telecommunications presented itself as the perfect gateway to explore this field, and that is how my career began.

How has your academic background influenced your professional approach and decision-making?

My academic background has been essential for my professional approach and decision-making in the R&D field. Indeed, any education helps to make informed and responsible decisions. For me, the combination of education, experience, and responsibility are the cornerstones of decision-making.

On the other hand, the scientific method has been a constant guide in my training. Questioning things, not taking them for granted because they have always been that way, demonstrating them through research and following an evidence-based approach are principles that I have integrated into my daily practice. This critical, science-based perspective has been a great help to me in tackling new challenges.

From Theory to Practice: Navigating the Complexities of Biomedical Research and Development

As you have progressed through your career, could you share some of the key learnings you have gained? Is there a specific moment that has significantly influenced your approach to research and development? 

Throughout my career, I can detect several key learnings: Certainly one of those moments was my first professional experience in Portugal, within a hospital environment. There, I was fortunate to get direct clinical feedback and work hand in hand with a team of anesthesiologists who were enthusiastic about their profession and passionate about teaching and technology.

It was this experience that really defined my path: biomedical research, and always close to the patient. This moment encouraged me to become even more committed to my work and to want to contribute significantly to the advancement of medicine.

You have had professional experiences in Spain and Portugal, as well as collaborating in international projects. How has the international experience influenced your professional perspective and the way you approach research and development in a global environment?

As an engineer, I always look for a technical solution to an established need. And when it comes to medical devices, our goal is to find technical answers to clinical needs. 

It is vital to understand the different realities, so that we can propose integrative solutions that can benefit the patient, regardless of their condition or location.

To give you an example, I have had the opportunity to visit operating theaters in Spain, Portugal, Germany and China. Each place has its own way of working, and it is that integrative vision that guides us to create the most effective solutions, no matter where the patient is.

Challenges as Catalysts: Adapting and Thriving in the Face of Adversity

As R&D and Clinical Affairs Manager, can you tell us more about your R&D management responsibilities in the Medical Device industry? And given that your job involves a wide range of responsibilities, what motivates you to perform this diverse and challenging role?

Following my career path, after my time in Portugal, I had the opportunity to work in healthcare start-ups, giving me a complete overview of the interrelated functions needed to bring effective and safe medical devices to market: Regulatory Affairs (RA), Quality Assurance (QA), Production, Marketing & Sales, Clinical and, of course, Research and Development (R&D).

And what is my day-to-day life like? Every project starts with the search for the best way to meet the clinical need with a technical solution. Then comes project definition, which involves managing budgets, allocating resources, and planning the project phases. This is followed by implementation, which is the process that will lead to the delivery of the technical solution.

But that’s not the end of it, it’s the validation in a clinical environment, which is a crucial phase. We evaluate whether we have developed what we set out to do and whether it really meets the clinical need we set out to address. And there is a key question, is it really of benefit to the patient? If we have ensured quality in all processes, the answer will be yes.

And how is this machine oiled? Primarily, through prioritization. Prioritization is key to maintaining efficiency and success in an environment as diverse and challenging as medical device R&D management.

Carmen Conzalez

What have been the most significant challenges and how have you addressed them in order to achieve your professional goals?

A constant challenge is dealing with the ever-changing and globally non-uniform regulatory conditions. However, if I had to single out one major challenge, I would refer to one that is not too distant and that, in one way or another, we all share as a society: the pandemic. 

In this context, there were global supply problems that jeopardized the ability to manufacture some of our products. In order to guarantee production, we had to be highly reactive in proposing alternative solutions and take on the considerable amount of work under intense pressure, involving all departments: R&D, production plants, supply chains, in short, the whole organization. This was a joint effort that demonstrated the resilience and adaptability of the entire team in the face of an unprecedented situation.

The Magic of Monitoring

How do you think anesthetic depth and nociception monitoring has impacted clinical practice? What is your vision for its future? 

Since the 1990s, there have been many changes in the field of anesthetic depth and nociception monitoring. These advances open a window into the brain, allowing us to observe the impact of drugs on brain waves, in contrast to traditional physiological effects such as pupils, cardiac activity, or tears.

The integration of new technologies will be key to this process. The ability to predict the future using artificial intelligence and decision support systems represents a significant leap. It is a move forward, not a replacement. Monitoring acts as an autopilot, offering support rather than replacement. In my vision, the future of monitoring in clinical practice will focus on moving forward, leveraging technology to improve accuracy and efficiency, while always being a support tool for the healthcare professional.

Empowering the Next Generation

It was recently Women and Girls in Science Day, what specific message would you like to convey to young women who are considering careers in science and technology?

I would like to stress two things: First, if they are considering it, then we have already done something right as a society, because years ago they did not consider it or very few did, we are on the right track, and if this interview helps one more to be encouraged, so that one more comes out of doubt, let’s do this more often! Diversity is not only cultural or geographical. There are many types of diversity, and any diversity always contributes. In order to keep moving forward, we need the commitment of everyone, both men and women. Let us all contribute to this diversity.  

Secondly, in the first question, I spoke about my role models, about my parents, about how studying science was not a disruptive step for me, because I had a role model at home, my mother. It is important that girls today have role models, that they see women who have followed this path before them so that they see it as another possibility, as something normal and natural. So what would I tell them? Let them do it, without fear, with confidence! That they may encounter barriers, there are some, and that when that is the case, they should help to break them down to serve as an example to the girls who come after them, so that they can, in turn, make the decision to dedicate themselves to science. Barriers don’t fall, they come down. Let’s keep moving forward. All of us.

Meet other Fresenius Kabi employees