Professor Alison Noble


Professor Noble is the Technikos Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Oxford University Department of Engineering Science, Director of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBME), and a Fellow of St Hilda’s College. She is the first woman to hold a Statutory Professor in Engineering at the University of Oxford. She is a Fellow of the IET, a Fellow of the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Interventions (MICCAI) Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. She was awarded an OBE for services to Science and Engineering in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2013.

Professor Noble received a DPhil in computer vision in 1989 from the University of Oxford. Her thesis made key contributions to the theory of (nonlinear) morphological filters and image segmentation. During this period she held a Dee scholarship (1986-87) and IBM scholarship (1987-89) from St Hugh's College, Oxford. From 1989-94, Professor Noble was a research scientist at the GE Corporate Research and Development Center, Schenectady, NY, USA - now the GE Global Research Center, Niskayuna, NY, USA) where her research interests were in manufacturing applications of image understanding for industrial inspection and process monitoring, principally using visual and X-ray imaging. During this 5 year period, she filed several patents, and was involved in 3 major technology transfer projects to GE Divisions, for which she received 2 Whitney Gallery awards for technical achievement (the highest technical honour given to a research scientist at the Center).

She joined the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford as a University Lecturer in January 1995 and quickly moved up the ranks to become a Professor of Engineering Science in 2002 (at that time the youngest electee in the department). Early achievements also included being the first biomedical engineer in the UK to receive a 5 year MRC Career Establishment award.

She became Director of the Oxford IBME in 2012, and other current senior level university responsibilities include membership of the university’s Research Committee and Education Committee that both report to Council.

Professor Noble heads large research activities in cardiovascular image analysis, women's health imaging, and microscopy image analysis. A particular research strength is ultrasound image analysis (segmentation, registration and RF-signal analysis), with current activities including ultrasound-based biomechanical property estimation, and machine learning for ultrasound image interpretation. Over the last 5 years her research has been funded by major grants from the EPSRC, CRUK, NIHR, Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Noble has played a significant role in setting up the Biomedical Engineering teaching and training programmes at Oxford over the last decade. She was the first Course Director of the Oxford taught MSc in Biomedical Engineering established in 2006, also playing a key part in introducing biomedical engineering into the MEng in Engineering Science. From 2002-8 she served on the management committee of the Oxford EPSRC Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), one of the first DTCs pioneering postgraduate research training in the UK. In 2008 she led the successful bid for the RCUK Centre for Doctoral Training in Healthcare Innovation which has developed into an internationally recognised postgraduate research training programme in healthcare technology innovation and clinical translational. She stepped down as the founding Director in 2012 when she became the Director of the IBME.

Professor Noble is the current President of the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Interventions (MICCAI) Society which is an international organisation set up to promote medical image computing and computer assisted interventions research, education and practice and which also oversees the major international conference series in her field.

A current member of the EPSRC Peer Review College (since 2000), recent funding body committee membership include of the Wellcome Trust Affordable Healthcare Committee, the MRC Confidence in Concept Committee, the Philip Leverhulme Prize Selection Committee, and acting as a Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Advisor.

A chartered engineer, Professor Noble has been actively involved in technology translation for approaching twenty five years. In addition to her period of work in industry she has had collaborations with many of the top medical imaging/healthcare companies including Siemens, GE, Philips, Toshiba, and Microsoft. At the other end of the scale, she was involved in the early development of Mirada Solutions Ltd, a university spin-out, which was subsequently bought by Siemens. She is a founder and CTO of Intelligent Ultrasound Ltd, a spin-out company from her laboratory, which focuses on software solutions that aim to make ultrasound a simpler technology to effectively use in existing and new areas of clinical medicine in the developed and developing world.