From concept to reality: The unexpected little twists of research- Vasileios Mitrakos

In the Sonopill project, as in most fields of research, everything starts with an exciting idea that addresses a clinical need and/or a fundamental engineering constraint, for which you then spend hours upon hours in an effort to bring it to life.

In my case as well, my PhD journey started in a similar manner. Tasked to expand the functionality of the capsule with complementary modalities based on pressure sensing, I found myself immersed into an ocean of –in most cases irrelevant- journal articles, as most PhD students do, in an effort to somehow overcome the current technological limitations and provide a novel solution with the potential of enhanced diagnostic yield for the patient. And as it happens, it is at this singular moment, somewhere between exhaustion and frustration when all feel impossible, that an idea sets in your mind and finally makes everything fit into place. In reality however, this is where the research journey actually begins.

Overtaken by your enthusiasm, you plan and organise your next steps, definite that translating your idea into a working device is an easy task. Certainly it must be, I thought as well, humouring myself. The difficult part must have been to come up with the idea. And then as you set afoot in the lab, convinced that everything will work, reality has but a humbling effect to your inflated ego as you suddenly exclaim in distress:

“Why is nothing working?!”

The initial frustration gradually leads to the understanding that giving form to a concept is a slow process, where in every step of the way you will stumble and fall, whilst constantly feeling that you face an impossible problem only to realise that nothing is impossible. Devoting all the patience and determination you can muster to work out -step by step- all these little details that sum up the solution to every research challenge, is what one only requires.

For me, being a part of the Sonopill project, has had an immense effect to my drive and motivation in bringing my ideas into existence. The fact that your research is part of a project of this scale, where the aim is not just “science for the sake of science” but to actually enable a real positive change to gastrointestinal healthcare and overall wellbeing, gives one all the more reason to find the necessary focus and strive for research solutions that truly answer to the clinical needs of so many of us. An effect, which I strongly feel, resonates in all of the Sonopill members due to the exciting nature of the project and the grand challenges on all levels that the project aims to overcome.