People behind the Product: Passion for Healthcare and Medical Research

Rebecca Fitton

08th Apr 2021
People behind the Product: Passion for Healthcare and Medical Research

David Montgomery, Head of Engineering for our PathXL division, joined us back in January. Since then, David has been leading new product development and R&D within the division.

For the past 8 years, David has been a member of the Board of Directors for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI, which is a local blood cancer research charity he is very passionate about. Over the years, he has worked very closely with the charity and has taken part in a variety of marathons to help raise money for this very important cause.

 

 

We recently caught up with David to find out more about his work within the PathXL team and to find out more about the amazing work he has done over the years for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI.

 

 What activities does your job involve on a daily basis?

I love my job, it’s so varied. It involves leading product development within the division, being responsible for and acting as custodian to the long-term technical strategy within the PathXL product portfolio, identifying and championing the implementation of improvements to product development processes, and managing a great team of engineers and researchers.

Currently I lead 3 small teams. One delivery team has a focus on integrating a new Digital and Computational Pathology workflow into our leading Lab Information Management product ULTRA. Another team is focused on executing against our digital pathology education strategy through the delivery of PathXL Tutor. Recently, Tutor v8 was released to the market. Last but not least, our Research and Development (R&D) team, which is focused on the creation and commercialisation of AI (Deep Learning) to assist with diagnostic decision making. I spent the early part of my career conducting research in biomedical image processing, so it’s been excellent to be able to rekindle that interest.

I really enjoy working with people and the collaborative nature of my work. Working together to find an effective technical solution within a MedTech setting is so rewarding.

 

What is your favourite thing about your job?

 I love the diversity of the role. Cirdan is growing rapidly, and it maintains a very entrepreneurial feel. I really enjoy being able to delve into the technical detail, something I’m able to do in this role. Sometimes as you transition into more senior roles, it can be natural to move away from the technical intricacies.

Also, although I’m in a technology management role, I often need to switch hats. This might involve some project/programme management, supporting our product management function or exploring new commercial opportunities. I get great exposure to lots of different areas. I’m also part of Cirdan’s senior management team, so with others, I’m able to help shape how the organisation evolves over time.

I’m really motivated to help teams grow and become more effective, ensuring that they are setup for success. It’s really rewarding to assist folks in the division with personal development and watch them take on progressively more complex challenges.

It’s been so clear to see the passion that Cirdan employees have for creating innovative solutions for improving wellbeing.

 

 How do you spend your time outside of work?

My time outside of work is very focused on my family. I’m married to Carla and we have 3 kids, a little girl Rebecca who’s just turned 10 and two little boys, Micah and Seth. They are so much fun.

It’s been tricky during lockdown as we are so limited in what we can do, but I love spending time with them. Either tidying up around the house or playing with their numerous John Deere tractors is great craic. Over the last year it’s been fun helping Rebecca learn how to do some basic programming using Scratch.

A few hens will soon be the next addition to the family. Everyone is looking forward to their arrival.

 

 What are you most passionate about?

As well as my passion for technology, I’m very passionate about supporting blood cancer research through the work of Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI. I’m so proud of the work they’ve done to improve awareness of the various blood cancers and on the valuable research that they support here in Northern Ireland.

At present we are supporting numerous research projects within the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at QUB. As a member of the LLNI board of directors I work closely with our medical advisory committee to ensure that the charity is funding the most appropriate research and that we have the financial means to support it.

I’ve been on the board now for about 8 years, since 2013 and we’ve seen quite a bit of change over that time. Early on, we would have mainly funded research on the acute leukaemia’s, however, now we are doing a lot more. We fund research on the acute leukaemia’s, chronic leukaemia’s, paediatric leukaemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma and MDS. We’ve also helped to fund small scale clinical trials in Belfast and the recruitment of clinical trials nurses in NI. To complement our research focus, we’ve also been looking at new ways we can help with advocacy, clinical support and collaboration with other charities in the sector.

It’s been wonderful to see the impact the clinical trials nurses have had. Unlike large urban centres like London, Manchester and Dublin, Northern Ireland’s relatively low population makes it more challenging to attract the best clinical trials. Blood cancer patients are some of our most vulnerable. It’s vital that they have access to the best clinical trials locally, rather than having to go elsewhere to get that treatment.

My motivation for joining and supporting the charity came when I lost my wife Victoria to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in 2012. Vicki lost her 9-month battle with the disease at the age of 31, when Rebecca was only 1. Although clinicians tried everything on offer, none of the treatments were able to get Vicki’s disease into remission. Vicki and I talked a lot about supporting the charity before she died. As you can imagine, this has greatly impacted and shaped my life.

Over the years, working and being part of the charity committee has been brilliant! A few months after Vicki’s death, I wasn’t fit at all but threw myself into the Belfast Marathon. Since then, I have developed a bit of a love for running. I’m terrible at it, but whilst running I’ve found solutions to problems that I might have been thinking about for a while, also it’s been great for completely clearing my head. Having some sort of running goal has been great, allowing me to raise some valuable funds to help LLNI. Over the years I’ve completed a few marathons. I completed Belfast, Rome and Dublin plus a few half marathons such as the Great North Run and a few Mourne Way Half marathons – not for the faint hearted. As I say, I’m not a speedy runner but I’ve had great experiences taking part.

I love working with the charity and attend monthly board meetings. Last month I stepped in for our chairperson Richard to chair my first virtual Board meeting. I felt honoured to be able to do that.

It has been so inspiring to work closely with folks who have dedicated decades of their lives to fundraising for this cause or to advancing blood cancer research. Many have been impacted directly by blood cancer or simply strive to make a difference.

I’m absolutely delighted, as by joining Cirdan I’ve been able to marry my passion for healthcare and medical research with the software development expertise I’ve acquired over the last 15 years. Its brilliant for me to bring these together, I’m so excited for what lies ahead at Cirdan.

 

Thank you, David, for sharing your story with us about such an important cause, we are delighted to have you as part of the team! You are an inspiration to us all here at Cirdan!

 

About Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI

Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI is the only charity in Northern Ireland dedicated to blood cancer research. Our mission is to improve survival rates and quality of life for all blood cancer patients by supporting clinicians, scientists and students researching these diseases.

Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI formerly known as the Northern Ireland Leukaemia Research Fund was founded by the McDowell family in 1964 following the death of their daughter Carole.  In an effort to prevent other families suffering this loss, the McDowell’s started fundraising for blood cancer research and the Northern Ireland Leukaemia Research Fund was born.

The charity is the McDowell family legacy, their determination to do something for others when faced with terrible circumstances still drives much of the work we do today.

Source: Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI – https://llni.co.uk/about-us/.

For more information on Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI visit: https://llni.co.uk/.

 #inspiring #leukaemia&lymphomaNI #peoplebehindtheproduct