Shellie A. Boudreau - Medicin og Sundhedsteknologi

Geospatial pain, sensory and symptom mapping: a new wave of medical imaging


To begin with: where are you from?

I am from Ontario, Canada – from a town called Hamilton which is located near Toronto.

Why did you apply to be a part of the talent programme?

I really wanted to get someone else involved, committed and burning for the same ideas as me.  So the possibility of having a PhD to join me and to create a team was a huge incentive.  Secondly, the possibility of taking leadership and personal development courses was something that I feel all of us should have an option to do and therefore I did not hesitate to take the chance and apply to the program.  I also knew that my ideas were receiving some attention from other funding agencies and that gave me the additional courage to apply.

What is your research project more specifically about?

The project allows for pain and other sensations (feelings) to be captured from patients on a digital body chart.  Patients know themselves and their problems fairly well however communication can be difficult so the technology we have created bridges that communication gap with a visual recording of on-going pain and symptoms.  The goal of the project  outlined in the talent management program is to capture pain patterns within specifc diagnosis and develop mapping solutions that can extract clinical insight from these pain drawings. 

Have you thought about how your project can contribute to bringing knowledge into the world?

Absolutely, we have already seen that by enabling patients, especially children, to express their on-going pain and other symptoms, rapid and relevent insight for clinical decisions.  We are now moving forward and aim to capture the onset of neck and low back pain symptoms as they occur and how they change over time so we can acquire a deeper understanding and gain insight as to whether there are distinct pain patterns within and between different diagnoses and if there are certain features within these pain patterns that are markers for recovery or lack thereof.

How do you plan to spend the money?

PhD student, Research assistant, personal development courses, travel and networking activities as well as publication costs.

What does it mean to you to be accepted into the programme?

It means that I have the freedom to explore the riskier projects and that I can tackle new issues or problems as the emerge throughout the project.  That I am not alone in my endeavor and that I have team and thusly a safe environment to bounce my crazy ideas.  Being accepting into the programme was also a huge confidence booster and provided external validation at a critical point in my career.

What do you hope to achieve with your research project?

The project will create a launch pad for further innovation and the creation of a new research network that will help establish a field within pain and symptom mapping.  I hope to become a leading expert within this field and to pave the way for other researchers and their research projects as well.

Who is your role model within the research world?  

It would be unfair to mention only one or two individuals.  So I would have to say that those here at SMI and CNAP have shaped, encouraged and supported me.  My PhD supervisors (Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Barry Sessle, and Peter Svensson) and current program mentor, Thomas Graven Nielsen are leaders within their fields and having that success nearby is an indication of what is possible and achievable.

What do you see as the most interesting research result within your field of research?

That there are so many variations in  symptom presentation within a diagnosis and this likely contributes to the findings that patients can have very different responses to treatment and rehabilitation approaches.  Capturing pain and symptom patterns is very fascinating and I expect the journey of uncovering the hidden relationships between symptom presentation and response to treatment to be a fulfilling adventure. I really feel like an explorer.