Professor
Tim Denison
DPhil
RAE Chair in Emerging Technologies
Department of Engineering Science
Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences
Email:
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

  • Open Mind: A collaboration supporting a bi-directional brain-machine-interface research tool for the BRAIN initiative.
  • MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit: Programme leader in translational bioengineering
  • Picostim DyNeuMo: Research Device and Ecosystem (Implantable, bi-directional, algorithm-enabled neural interface)
  • xTMS: Digital Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation System
  • MORPHEUS: Sleep-based, wearable therapy system
  • Oxford Martin School Programme for Global Epilepsy

As a collaborator for translational work (focus is on deployment of tools for first-in-human and large-animal research):

  • Walking naturally after spinal cord injury using a brain–spine interface, Lorach, H., Galvez, A., Spagnolo, V. et al.Nature 618, 126–133 (2023).
  • Assessment of Safety of a Fully Implanted Endovascular Brain-Computer Interface for Severe Paralysis in 4 Patients: The Stentrode with Thought-Controlled Digital Switch (SWITCH) Study, Mitchell, P., Lee, S.C.M., Yoo, P.E., et al., JAMA Neurol. 2023;80(3):270–278. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.4847
  • Towards network-guided neuromodulation for epilepsy, Piper, R.J., Richardson, M., Worrell, G., Carmichael, D.W., Baldeweg, T., Litt, B., Denison, T., Tisdall, M.M., Brain, 2022.
  • Diurnal modulation of subthalamic beta oscillatory power in Parkinson’s disease patients during deep brain stimulation, van Rheede, J.J., Feldmann, L.K., et. al. (In press, npj Parkinson’s Disease)
  • Activity-dependent spinal cord neuromodulation rapidly restores trunk and leg motor functions after complete paralysis, Rowald, A., Komi, S., Demesmaeker, R. et al.Nat Med 28, 260–271 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01663-5
  • Neuroprosthetic baroreflex controls hemodynamics after spinal cord injury, Courtine, G. et. al., Nature, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-03180-w
  • Motor neuroprosthesis implanted with neurointerventional surgery improves capacity for activities of daily living tasks in severe paralysis: first in-human experience, OxleyTJ, Yoo PE, Rind GS, et al, Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery  doi: 10.1136/neurintsurg-2020-016862
  • Chronic embedded cortico-thalamic closed-loop deep brain stimulation for the treatment of essential tremor, Opri, E. et al., Science Translational Medicine, 2020. doi: 1126/scitranslmed.aay7680
  • Targeted neurotechnology restores walking in humans with spinal cord injury FB Wagner, et. al., Nature 563 (7729), 65-71, 2018. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0649-2
  • Stimulating at the right time: phase-specific deep brain stimulation. Cagnan, H., Pedrosa, et. al., Brain 140, 132-145 (2017).
  • Fully Implanted Brain–Computer Interface in a Locked-In Patient with ALS, Mariska J. Vansteensel, Ph.D., Elmar G.M. Pels, M.Sc., et. al., New England J Medicine, 375:2060-2066, 2016. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1608085

As a lead/senior author for technical work (generation of bioelectronic modules and research tools for translation):

  • Pulse width modulation based TMS: Primary motor cortex responses compared to conventional monophasic stimuli, Memarian Sorkhabi, M., Wendt, K., O’Shea, J., Denison, T, Brain Stimulation, Jul-Aug;15(4) 980-983,
  • Concurrent stimulation and sensing in bi-directional brain interfaces: a multi-site translational experience, Ansó J, Benjaber M, et. al., Journal of Neural Engineering, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1088/1741-2552/ac59a3
  • Embedding digital chronotherapy into bioelectronic medicines, Fleming, J.E., Kremen, V., Gilron, R., Gregg, N.M., Zamora, M., Dijk, D.J., Starr, P.A., Worrell, G.A., Little, S., Denison, T.J., iScience 25(4):104028, 2022.
  • DyNeuMo Mk-1: Design and pilot validation of an investigational motion-adaptive neurostimulator with integrated chronotherapy, Zamora M, Toth R, et al, Experimental Neurology, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2022.113977
  • Chronic wireless streaming of invasive neural recordings at home for circuit discovery and adaptive stimulation, Gilron, R. et. al., Nature Biotechnology, 2021.
    https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-021-00897-5
  • The sensitivity of ECG contamination to surgical implantation site in brain computer interfaces, Wolf-Julian Neumann, Majid Memarian Sorkhabi, et. al., Brain Stimulation, Volume 14, Issue 5, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2021.08.016,
  • DyNeuMo Mk-2: An Investigational Circadian-Locked Neuromodulator with Responsive Stimulation for Applied Chronobiology, Toth, R. et. al., 2020 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC), 2020. doi: 10.1109/SMC42975.2020.9283187
  • Developing Collaborative Platforms to Advance Neurotechnology and Its Translation, Borton, D.A., Dawes, H.E., Worrell, G.A., Starr, P.A., Denison, T.J., Neuron, 108:2, 2020. doi: 1016/j.neuron.2020.10.001
  • Physiological Artifacts and the Implications for Brain-Machine-Interface Design, Sorkhabi, M. et al, 2020 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC), doi: 10.1109/SMC42975.2020.9283328
  • Programmable Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation- A Modulation Approach for the Generation of Controllable Magnetic Stimuli, Sorkhabi, M. et al, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 2020. doi: 1109/TBME.2020.3024902
  • A Chronically-Implantable Neural Coprocessor for Investigating the Treatment of Neurological Disorders, Stanslaski S et al; IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, 2019. doi: 10.1109/TBCAS.2018.2880148

Bioelectronics, Medical Device Design, Physiologic Interfaces and Controls

  • Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrumentation Makers, 2023
  • The Annual BCI Award (team award): 1St Place 2022, 2nd Place 2020
  • IET Awards: Small Idea, Big Impact: Global Challenge for 2020 (OxVent)
  • MRC Investigator, 2020-2025 (MRC Brain Networks Dynamic Unit)
  • Oxford Martin School, Investigator (Global Epilepsy Programme), 2020-2023
  • Senior Research Fellow, Green Templeton College – 2019-
  • Graham Clarke Oration, Melbourne Australia, July 2019.
  • Chair in Emerging Technology, Royal Academy of Engineering, 2018-2028
  • Distinguished Fudan Scholar, 2018
  • Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, 2018
  • College of Fellows, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers, 2015
  • Global Innovation Fellow, Medtronic programme for chronic disease in Ghana, 2014
  • Medtronic Wallin award, 2014 (Medtronic’s highest leadership recognition)
  • Medtronic Bakken Society, 2012 (Medtronic’s highest scientific award)
  • Medtronic Technical Fellow, 2010
  • Medtronic Technical Contributor of the Year [team], 2008 and [individual], 2006

C23: Introduction to Bioelectronic Medicines and Prosthetics

3YP: Physiologic Control Systems (Project Class)

Watch my taster lecture from the University of Oxford 2023 Open Days to discover more about biomedical engineering and what it is like to be an Engineering Science Undergraduate Student at Oxford.

  • Director: Amber Therapeutics (2021-), Bioinduction Ltd (2023-), Finetech Medical Ltd (2023-)
  • Advisory Board, Cortec Neuro (2022-2025); Non-executive Chairman, MINT Neurotechnologies (2022-)
  • Member, British Standards Institute, 60601-1-10 (Physiologic Control Systems) Committee
  • Chair, Knowledge Transfer Network Neurotechnology Working Group (2019-2021)
  • Royal Society Working Group on Neurotechnology (2018-2023)
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Neural Engineering (2016-present); International Advisory Board, Lancet Digital Health (2020-present)