Teke Earns Alumni of the Year Award at Troy University
In the fall of 2001, Dr. Yves Sucaet, a Belgian exchange student, joined the Lambda-Zeta chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon. After his initiation, he moved into their house, participated in all of their activities, and is now attributing much of his professional success to the lessons that he learned while in school at Troy State University, (since then renamed Troy University).
Each year at homecoming at Troy University in Troy, AL; the university recognizes four exceptional alumni with their Alumni of the Year award. This year, Dr. Yves Sucaet, a mindful advocate and evangelist for digital pathology, earned that honor.
After achieving undergraduate success, he subsequently joined Troy University’s Master’s program in spring 2003. Apart from his academic involvements, he vividly recalls his time at the Lambda-Zeta chapter of TKE:
“I came to the USA as a Belgian exchange student. Someone in my home country had told me that I had an opportunity to experience American lifestyle firsthand by going to a university somewhere in the USA. Some would say that I should have asked more questions before getting on the plane to Montgomery, AL (the closest airport to Troy), but I would challenge them to find how any other school could have worked out better for me than Troy has.”
Living at the TKE house on Pell Ave, he recalls some of the Fraters he was close with: Marcus Cooper, Brian and Scott Shepard, his big brother Jonathan Catrett, Homer Guy, and Adrian Samson, to name just a few.
“We didn’t always all get along, but we all bonded at a really deep level, came together and we were there for each other when it was needed,” Dr. Sucaet remembered.
Upon graduation from the Master’s program at Troy, Dr. Yves Sucaet went on to earn a PhD in bioinformatics at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.
In 2010, he started working for HistoGeneX, a CRO in Antwerp, Belgium. HistoGeneX is an international top player for medicine development. They assist in the development of highly accurate cancer drugs and contribute to personalized medicine (monoclonal antibodies, biomarkers, companion diagnostics).
“Their focus is on pathology. Pathology is the study of diseased tissue. The tool of the trade of the pathologist is his or her microscope. With a microscope, you can look at any type of tissue, regardless of its origin,” Dr. Sucaet said.
Dr. Sucaet was hired initially to develop complementary data analysis services for the company, but quickly stumbled upon a different kind of problem. In 2012, the problem with digital pathology was that you needed different software programs to look at different types of images. Many people at the company were looking at their data (microscopic images of patient tissue) with different types of software.
“You could compare this to someone typing report, where you start off in Microsoft Office on a Mac. Then, after about 30 minutes, you switch to a PC: You’re still doing the same thing, but the interface is a little different and takes a while to get used to. Then, after another 15 minutes you use Open Office instead of Microsoft Office. It was all inefficient and very confusing for end-users,” Dr. Sucaet said.
So, Dr. Sucaet set out with several of the MDs at the company to find a solution. They spent six months evaluating a range of different solutions such as obscure products that cater to niche-markets like Visiopharm, Definiens, Pannoramic Viewer, etc. No software would suffice, and it was decided that they would have to build their own solution.
In 2013, this internal project around digital pathology was spun off as a separate company called Pathomation. Dr. Sucaet signed up for Pathomation to be its Chief Technology Officer, interfacing with medical staff and software engineers simultaneously. At the same time, he also joined the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Brussels, Belgium, acting as their digital pathology manager, to guide the implementation of building a digital histolopathology informatics layer on top of various tissue banks.
Ever since becoming involved with digital pathology, Dr. Sucaet has been a true evangelist for the field. He has visited and presented at numerous conferences; not just in the field of digital pathology itself, but also in its actual application domains, including the Open Microscopy user group, pathology conferences, biobanking events and various bioinformatics conferences.
Homecoming at Troy Univeristy took place from October 14-16. Dr. Sucaet flew back with his family to have dinner with Chancellor Dr. Hawkins at his home on Friday evening. There was a breakfast in Dr. Sucaet’s honor on Saturday morning, followed by seats on the viewing stand at the homecoming parade in downtown Troy, and then seats in the Chancellor’s box for the football game.
At halftime of the homecoming football game, Dr. Sucaet and the other three Alumni of the Year were formally presented with their awards on the football field. Following the homecoming weekend, Dr. Sucaet also gave guest lectures to the biology department, computer science department, and school of business.
Dr. Sucaet feels that the honor of the 2016 Alumni of the Year award recognizes the importance of digital pathology.
“It matters to physicians, patients, researchers, and students alike. In the end, it matters to society at large. It is also a testimony of what young men can become when placed in the right environment, and allowed to grow and develop,” Dr. Sucaet said.