Prof Nick Donaldson Chairman NSC University College London

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Professor Nick Donaldson MA PhD MIET MIPEM

Nick Donaldson studied engineering at Cambridge University in the 1970s. He then became an
apprentice at Marconi and GEC and in 1976 joined the Medical Research Council in the Neurological
Prostheses Unit, under Director Giles Brindley, a pioneer of implanted devices. Nick was tasked with
developing multi-channel motor nerve stimulators to restore leg function in paraplegia and several
of his devices were tested in volunteers in the 1980s. On Brindley’s retirement in 1992, the
engineers from the MRC moved to University College London (UCL) and became the Implanted
Devices Group (IDG), which has maintained a strong association with spinal cord injury research,
working with London Spinal Cord Injuries Centre at RNOH Stanmore and the Salisbury Spinal Injuries
Unit. The implant technology was later extended to detect natural nerve signals as well as nerve
stimulation. The IDG has worked on materials and technology for implants, electronic design,
feedback control of stimulated muscles and trialled stimulation of the lumbar anterior roots as an
alternative to peripheral nerve stimulation. In the late 1990s, the IDG developed ‘functional
electrical stimulation’ or FES-cycling as a recreational exercise for better health. In 2010 it made a
landmark discovery involving one SCI volunteer with an incomplete-lesion, whose paralysis seemed
to be reduced by the combination of FES during voluntary effort to cycle. This discovery led to the
development of the INSPIRE Cycle or iCYCLE.
Nick Donaldson is Professor of Neuroprosthesis Engineering at UCL. Since 1992 he has acted as Principal Investigator on 42 funded projects. In addition to various implanted devices, he has designed several novel machines and pieces of apparatus. He is author or co-author of 147 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has taught 22 PhD students. He has worked on several projects with the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and previously, served on INSPIRE’s National Scientific Committee from 1999-2018. After a four year break, he assumed the chair from Professor Laurence Kenney in June 2022.