UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Spotlight on Professor Konstantinos Balaskas

On the occasion of his Inaugural Lecture on 31 January, we spoke to Konstantinos Balaskas, Professor of Medical Artificial Intelligence and Applied Health Research.

Picture of Professor Konstantinos Balaskas

Tell us a bit about your work

Over the past four years, as Chief Investigator for three successful NIHR HTA grant applications, I have championed digital health innovation based on robust evidence and well-designed research. This ongoing national research programme is paving the way for an ethical, inclusive, evidence-based route to service transformation. Clinical AI, Telehealth, Decentralised community care, virtual clinics, and modern imaging are the common threads connecting the many and diverse aspects of my work. I am passionate about redesigning eye health services in ways that shift the centre of gravity from the hospital to the community and, ultimately, place digital healthcare tools for our patients in the palm of their hands.

Why is your research important?

AI is an umbrella term. It means different things to different people. I advocate strongly the exponential increase in value induced by the close working between enthusiastic clinicians and data scientists for bringing AI sooner to the service of our patients in real life. My work aspires to include the end-to-end lifecycle of Clinical AI from ideation, AI model development and validation, to real-life implementation, barriers and enablers, human factors and human-AI interaction. 

What inspires you in your work?

My team makes it all possible, the fascinating fast-paced transformation in the field of AI, and the opportunities for new knowledge generation with true potential for improving people's lives.

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

The acceptance for publication in the Lancet Digital Health of the first homegrown, state-of-the-art Clinical AI system for advanced AMD, developed by the NHS and for the NHS through sheer talent and dedication of our wonderful research team. 

What do you like to do outside work? 

I don't have a taste for such luxuries. I've always enjoyed the cinema, period dramas, history, linguistics, and understanding the mystery and wonder of our intelligent species. 

What book is currently on your bedside table?

'Leaving Berlin' by Joseph Kanon