Lionel Tarassenko CBE FREng FMedSci FIET CEng

Head of Department

Professor of Engineering Science

Fellow of St John's College

TEL: 01865 273002
  • Biography
  • Research


Professor Lionel Tarassenko is a world-leading expert in the application of signal processing to medical systems, with a strong track record in translation to clinical medicine. His work has had a major impact on the identification of deterioration in acute care and on the self-management of long-term conditions using mobile communications. He has been a pioneer in developing early warning systems for acutely-ill patients. The data fusion system which he designed for patient monitoring was the first such system to gain FDA approval. It has led to improved patient outcomes documented in clinical trials (Crit. Care Med. 2011) and more than 150 licences have been sold to hospitals in the US and the UK.

Lionel has been a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Oxford since 1997 and he was the driving force behind the Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) which he directed from its opening in April, 2008 to October, 2012. He also established an £8m Centre of Excellence in Medical Engineering within the IBME, and he has led the Bioengineering theme in the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre since its inception in 2007. Under his leadership, the IBME grew from 110 to 220 academic researchers, and it was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in 2015 for “new collaborations between engineering and medicine delivering benefit to patients”.

He is also a Professorial Fellow in the Nuffield Department of Population Health. In that department, he works with Professor Sir Rory Collins and with Professor Martin Landray, Deputy Director of the Big Data Institute. With Professor Collins, he is designing and testing machine learning algorithms to analyse the large number of electrocardiograms in the UK Biobank database, with a view to automating the detection of atrial fibrillation. With Professor Landray and colleagues at Stanford University, he has been developing a smartphone app for tracking cardiovascular health in large populations. Both of these projects have grown as a result of his role as Leader of the Biomedical Informatics and Technology Theme for the NIHR-funded Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.

Lionel was elected to a Fellowship of the Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1996, when he was also awarded the IEE Mather Premium for his work on neural networks, to a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2000, and to a Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2013. He received a British Computer Society Medal in 1996 for his work on neural network analysis of sleep disorders. His research on jet engine health monitoring was awarded the Rolls-Royce Chairman's Award for Technical Innovation in 2001 and the Sir Henry Royce High Value Patent Award in 2008. His work on mobile phones for healthcare was awarded the E-health 2005 Innovation Award for “best device to empower patients”. He received the 2006 Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering for his contribution to British engineering leading to market exploitation and he won the Institute of Engineering & Technology IT Award, also in 2006. In 2010, he gave the prestigious Vodafone lecture on m-health at the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Centenary Lecture on Biomedical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He received the 2015 Martin Black Prize from the Institute of Physics for the best paper in Physiological Measurement.

He is the author of 210 journal papers, 190 conference papers, 3 books and 30 granted patents. He has been a founder director of four University spin-out companies, the latest being Oxehealth in September 2012. He serves on the Council of the University of Oxford, and he is a director of the University’s wholly-owned Technology Transfer company, Oxford University Innovation. Lionel has been the Head of the Department of Engineering Science (Dean of Engineering) since 1st September 2014. He was made a CBE in the 2012 New Year’s Honours List.

Research Interests

Signal processing and machine learning applied to medical signals and data is the main focus of the Biomedical Signal Processing & m-health group run by Prof. Lionel Tarassenko; the Computational Health Informatics Laboratory, run by Prof. David Clifton; and the Computational Intelligence in Biomedical Monitoring (CIBIM) Laboratory run by Prof. Maarten De Vos.

Prof. Tarassenko's group has historically focused on machine learning and data fusion for early warning of patient deterioration in hospital, as well as m-health for self-management of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Prof. Clifton's group focuses on (i) very-large scale data fusion, from genomics to patient-worn sensors, and (ii) extensions for affordable healthcare in developing countries. Prof. De Vos' research focus is on (i) tensor decompositions in biomedical applications and (ii) neuroscience and mental health monitoring.

All three groups collaborate closely and have several joint projects. If you are interested in biomedical signal processing research, please feel free to approach these members of faculty.