Siemens Healthineers Elena Nioutsikou forges innovation

Siemens Healthineers Elena Nioutsikou forges innovation

 September 20, 2023

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Meet Siemens Healthineers Radiation Physicist, Elena Nioutsikou, an MRI expert who is actively shaping the role of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in radiation therapy and constantly advocating for more women in STEM. Since joining Siemens Healthineers, Elena has been at the forefront of innovation of radiation therapy for cancer patients and in particular its combination with Magnetic Resonance (MR) imaging.

Elena's goal is to help improve quality of life for cancer patients, and MR images can provide a better understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the disease and hence aid in designing more localized treatments with fewer side effects.

Working in a job that carries great purpose, impact and meaning 

What distinguishes a successful cancer treatment? “I think what really matters is not solely the number of months or years that a treatment can add to a patient’s life, but how well one can live during this time and if one can do the things that matter to oneself. Radiation therapy is among the least toxic treatments for cancer. It feels very rewarding to be in a position where I can explore and contribute new ways of improving quality of life for cancer patients,” explains Elena who has has been working in radiotherapy for decades.

Elena previously worked as a clinical scientist in a UK hospital and as a research fellow at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. In 2008, she joined Siemens Healthineers, initially in product definition, then outbound marketing and now in the Varian Business Line, where she oversees a program that aims to facilitate the adoption and clinical implementation of MRI in radiotherapy.

Innovation needs diverse perspectives

A holistic approach is also apparent in Elena's interest in researching disease-specific solutions that aren’t tied to an individual modality. As a principal key expert at Siemens Healthineers, she seems to be well positioned for this; the Key Experts network of innovators regularly gets together to share ideas. One example here are the Inspire Talks, a kind of in-house TED Talks series. Elena moderates these events and sees them as a source of inspiration—whether that is for exploring new methods or diving deeper into subject-matter expertise: “At the Inspire Talks, speakers from different fields of technology and innovation present what they do. The most exciting part is typically the discussion that follows and moderating this is fascinating! Indeed, I have been approached more than once afterwards by colleagues telling me that they met through the talks for the first time and are now writing a patent together,” explains Elena.

Elena believes that having platforms for exchanging ideas, sharing inspiration and expertise and then allowing different ideas to drive progress are crucial to the innovative power of Siemens Healthineers: “Gone are the days when innovators would come up with a new solution from beginning to end in isolation. Nowadays people with different perspectives need to come together to share and also critically examine various aspects. The motto we use is ‘fail forward’ and this safe environment to try to experiment and speak up is paramount. Then there is opportunity to light a spark and create something that wouldn’t have been created otherwise.”

An inspirational role model for further women

Elena strongly believes in diversity. Having lived and worked in four countries so far, she has observed time and time again how diverse teams thrive. Within Siemens Healthineers, she is an advocate for the female perspective and actively participates in StepUp, a global women’s network within Siemens Healthineers. Elena is contributing towards the network’s goal which is to improve diversity by increasing the number of women in all functions and at all levels of the company.

“I think role models are very important on this journey. You cannot be what you cannot see. If you never see female key experts for example, you cannot imagine giving this career option a consideration, even if you have the ability and skill set," she says. 

Diverse perspectives are key

Diverse perspectives are also the key to innovation and that finds no exception in radiotherapy.

“Only when we diversify the teams—beyond background, gender and age—can we innovate breakthroughs in healthcare for everyone, everywhere. Otherwise, every stereotype, every bias we have as humans, are going to limit our solutions," shares Elena. "The broader our team views are, the broader the applicability of our solutions. Cancer patients worldwide can benefit from this approach—and gain the time to do the things that matter to them."

Forge a great career path at Siemens Healthineers

Siemens Healthineers offers many rewarding career pathways and offers a truly inclusive workplace culture. 

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