Tim Denison
Affiliated Faculty
Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies
Tel: 01865 617707
College: Green Templeton
Location: Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Old Road Campus Research Building, Oxford OX3 7DQ

Professor Denison holds a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies. At Oxford, he explores the fundamentals of physiologic closed-loop systems. Prior to Oxford, Tim was the Vice President of Research & Core Technology for the Restorative Therapies Group of Medtronic, where he helped oversee the design of next generation neural interface and algorithm technologies for the treatment of neurological disorders.

In 2012, he was awarded membership to the Bakken Society, Medtronic’s highest scientific honor, and in 2014 he was awarded the Wallin leadership award (only the second person in Medtronic history to receive both awards). In 2015, he was a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Tim received an A.B. in Physics from The University of Chicago, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT. Recently, he completed his MBA as a Wallman Scholar at Booth, The University of Chicago.

He is a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies for his work on brain engineering.

When treating neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, doctors have generally relied on drug discoveries, but this is often a costly and lengthy process. With the significant personal and societal costs incurred by such disorders there’s an imperative to invest in alternative approaches to treatment.

Bioelectronics work directly with the body’s own nervous system to monitor brain signals and, as needed, tweak the electrical activity within nerves to alleviate symptoms of diseases. Despite clinical success in treating symptoms of diseases like Parkinson’s, existing bioelectronic systems have several limitations that arguably limit their adoption. For example, currently a skilled surgeon is required to implant the system in a patient, and the system’s output is inflexible in contrast to the rapidly changing and reactive activity of the nervous system.

The microelectronic basis and digital programmability of bioelectronic systems means that there is huge potential for flexibility in both research and future medical device design. Emerging technology offers the possibility of building restorative neural systems which are adaptable and programmable for various diseases, as well as specifically for individuals. The codes used to programme the systems can be modified as scientific understanding of the brain evolves, and also be used to rapidly respond to physiological fluctuations within the body. But to realize this potential, we first need a better understanding of how the brain functions and responds to bioelectronic interventions.

Professor Denison’s programme is exploring a continuum of adaptive, minimally-invasive bioelectronic systems. This includes developing the key scientific instrumentation required to better understand how the brain functions and adapts to a range of interventions including electrical, ultrasound and transcranial electro-magnetic stimulation, and in collaboration with clinician-partners, applying these tools and know-how to prototype concepts for future disease treatments; all with the goal of ultimate clinical translation