Prof. Esther Rodríguez Villegas

Esther Rodríguez Villegas is a Professor (Chair) of Low-Power Electronics at Imperial College London, originally known for her engineering techniques to drastically reduce power in integrated
circuits.  She subsequently focused her research on life-science applications, founding the Wearable Technologies Lab. This lab specialises on both: creating innovative wearable medical technologies to improve management and diagnosis of chronic diseases; and neural interfaces to facilitate brain research whilst improving animals’ welfare. Esther is also a founder, co-CEO/CSO, of two active life-sciences companies, Acurable and TainiTec.  And she has served in many prestigious international technical committees, including, but not limited, to the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Solid State Circuit Society. During the COVID crisis, amongst other things, Esther served as a scientific technology advisor for the UK Test and Trace. In the past, she has also provided evidence for the Science and Technology Committee in the UK House of Lords, and served as an adviser for members of the cabinet of the  European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. Esther has received many international recognitions and  awards. Examples include two European Research Council grants (2009 and 2016), an IET Innovation Award (2009), a global XPRIZE-award (2014),  the top award in the world for innovation making an impact in the welfare of animals used in research (AAALAC 3Rs  award, 2018) and a Silver Medal of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering (2020). Apart from being the author of a book, a large number of academic publications and patents, Esther has also successfully taken ten products from the idea conception and research in her academic lab, to product development, mass production and commercialisation. In 2009, she was named the top scientist/engineer in Spain under the age of 36 (Complutense award) and in 2020 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2021, Esther has been awarded the SRUK/CERU Merit Award 2020.

Talk abstract

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects approximately 1% of the population (or over 50 million people in the world). Europe alone is home to 6 million people who suffer from it, and there is one new case every minute. Although epilepsy can affect people of all age groups, it is most commonly prevalent in children, adolescents and elderly people. In certain cases, healthy patients with epilepsy, can die suddenly and unexpectedly. This is known as Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). SUDEP kills thousands of people in Europe  every year. But, unfortunately the mechanisms of it are not known, which makes it unpredictable. This talk will describe how tailor-made wearable medical devices could help  in SUDEP prevention, focusing on the very  significant multidisciplinary research challenges that need to be overcome to create such devices.  The talk will be framed within the story of an engineering career that, having this target in mind, went  from designing integrated circuit to taking medical devices to market.