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Henning Müller in his office at the institute of informatics in Sierre

Henning Müller is a recognizable footstep at the Institute of Informatics. The quick step of a project manager through the corridors of the institute. This is not surprising, since he devotes his time to coordinating the thirty or so employees who work in his unit and the fifteen people who work in his medGIFT research laboratory. As a professor at the HES-SO Valais-Wallis for 15 years, he has developed an international network of expertise. Despite its geographical decentralization, the Swiss Digital Center in Sierre is now home to a dynamic, innovative research ecosystem that is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its work.

Digital Shapers - a national recognition

Digital Shapers 2022, a national award jointly presented by the digitalswitzerland Foundation, the magazines Bilanz and PME as well as the Handeslzeitung, honors those who have pushed the limits of their thinking and actions to enable Switzerland to stay on course for digital success. A 12-person jury chose from among the innovative minds and action-oriented digital enthusiasts who have made promising advances in various fields. Henning Müller was awarded in the eMedics category for his contribution to research in personalized medicine supported by artificial intelligence algorithms.

Teamwork for the benefit of patients

Henning Müller emphasizes teamwork when he talks about the personal national recognition he is receiving as Digital Shapers 2022. The visible work in Switzerland is primarily that of his colleagues in the eHealth unit and the staff of his research laboratory MedGIFT. Thanks to the national and international talents of this laboratory, the European project EXAMODE, with a budget of five million, is coordinated in Sierre by Professor Henning Müller and Manfredo Atzori, scientific assistant. This is important work at the service of clinicians but also of patients, which will enable artificial intelligence to annotate medical images in a standardized way in order to support the work of overloaded medical teams. Thus, the algorithms produced in part in Sierre are improved in partnership with other academic institutions, hospitals and companies to meet the needs of the field. Data from more than 10 hospitals are used to demonstrate the universal functioning of this tool. The large volume of data available represents an opportunity for caregivers but also a problem that can be solved by Machine Learning. The Institute's teams are teaching an algorithm to analyze images and relevant annotations from clinicians in a multimodal manner. This saves a radiologist from spending long hours looking at tissue sections under the microscope and frees up valuable patient time. This work has already been published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Digital Medicine, signed by Niccolò Marini.

The eHealth Unit, a story of technology and trust

Trust in the hospital body is as important as trust in the machines that decrypt our medical data. To remain relevant and concrete in the research projects conducted, to have a positive impact on the population and to publish research results that are useful to the entire scientific community, Henning Müller and his team have chosen a horizontal and participatory way of working. "Many of my colleagues know more about specific topics than I do; it is up to me to coordinate their activities and provide them with a pleasant working environment, adequate funding and state-of-the-art equipment so that everyone can focus on their work." This is how the eHealth unit works: through exchanges, emulation and dialogue, in a horizontal and participatory manner. Managing a team means above all coordinating, proofreading articles, making sure that working conditions are optimal, welcoming trainees, doctoral students and post-docs, and solving small everyday problems as well as major scientific problems so that everyone can devote themselves to research. Henning Müller is an involved project manager who pays particular attention to the well-being of his team, to the limits of people; the word management is always linked to the word trust when he talks about his job. It's all about delegation, because in addition to managing a unit and a laboratory, he teaches courses for the Bachelor and Master programs and serves as a member of the National Research Council in Division 4. His multidisciplinary profile, his participative management and his attention to others also lead him to reflect on the optimal functioning of a team, particularly with regard to the place of women in the very male world of information technology. This year, he is happy to have 7 female PhD students out of the 10 assigned positions; a first that makes him smile as he starts a new busy day at the Institute of Informatics.