Meet Matt Hedges from the Sogeti Life Sciences Team
Sogeti Ireland recently launched a new Life Science department and we would like to take a moment to introduce to Matt Hedges, Senior Consultant and one of our key on the team
Matt is a senior consultant with a background in material science. Now don’t be worried if you don’t know what that means, because I didn’t either- but Matt has a way of breaking it down to the basics. He grew up with a natural aptitude for chemistry, physics and maths, and while he’d planned to study chemistry in university, a trusted instructor recommended material science. He went through his studies, all the way up to the PhD level working on the manufacturing, processing and modification of materials such as plastics, metals and ceramics. “If you think about it, everything from a car to a house to a medical device needs to have a scientist behind the scenes somewhere during production to ensure that those materials are fit for purpose- and that’s what I dedicated my time to studying.” His projects were focused for the aerospace industry, processing novel alloys in a way that would allow them to withstand higher temperatures for longer periods of time. It was this research that helped him land his first job following his PhD with Altran (a consultancy which, as it happens, recently joined the Capgemini group.)
Moving to Ireland and into the life sciences, world was a bit of a shock for Matt, who admits that without much previous exposure to anything related to medicine, he felt like a fish out of water at first. But very quickly he became well accustomed to the standards of regulation he’d be working with for the rest of his career. “Anytime you’re putting something into the human body, the quality requirements instantly increase exponentially. If something goes wrong, a medical device can kill the person it’s meant to help. But over time you get so used to the level of detail and the regulations that you bring that mindset and approach into everything you do.”
From Matt’s perspective, the more experience you have with regulation-centric thinking, the more you can help transfer that mindset to the people around you. “A lot of my background has been in research and development, and when you’re in a lab the environment is totally controlled. The challenge is moving into a manufacturing environment where there are suddenly tonnes of new variables- all of which can have a huge impact on your product. As a consultant, my job is to identify the differences between the lab/manufacturing environment and then control for them at scale.”
Sounds pretty cool, right? Over the years Matt has specialised in vascular work. He’s been involved in projects that have found ways to slowly release drugs on stents for blood vessels and arteries, essentially stopping the body from absorbing the devices over time using drugs that could be poisonous in the wrong dosage. He’s worked on heart valve replacements and pacemakers, looking for new therapies that could drastically reduce the cost, time and risk of major surgeries. For Matt, there is a never-ending opportunity to make a difference in the medical device industry. “There’s always some new therapy, covering areas that you might not even imagine. Small adjustments to products that have been on the market for a long time can have life-altering impacts on the end users, the patients, and the work that we do needs to respect the issues that they’re facing in order to ultimately provide them with long-term solutions.”
So, what does Matt see as the future of the medical device industry? Connected devices. Think of the smartwatches people wear that monitor heart rates and calorie burns- these devices are becoming commonplace and in the next few years, advances in technology will mean that they can do even more. “Imagine devices that both the patient and their surgeon can constantly monitor, like a device for diabetes that will release insulin automatically when the body needs it, or knee replacements that can adjust themselves based on the patient’s gait and usage.” For now, there’s a lot more work needed to get to these devices to such medically advanced stages- but that just means more motivation to continue discovering and progressing in the field.