Encarna Micó Amigo Biomedical Engineering

An interview with Encarna Micó Amigo, Biomedical Engineering on November 1, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.




As an undergraduate of the bachelor’s in industrial design engineering I was awarded with two highly competitive scholarships at Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). Under these programs I developed my bachelor thesis at Kagoshima University (Japan) in 2011, and I achieved my first professional experience as a lecturer in biomechanics at the College of Biomedical Engineering of Kathmandu (Nepal) in 2013. Subsequently, I completed a master of science in biomedical engineering at University of Barcelona, and I developed my master thesis at Politecnico di Torino under the Erasmus scholarship, obtaining the best qualification.


In December 2018 I got awarded a PhD in human movement sciences by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands). The project was funded by the Marie FP7 ITN program, with the industry leader in wearable technology McRoberts B.V. The PhD thesis was led by Professor Jaap van Dieën, in collaboration with Professor Walter Maetzler at Tüebingen Medical University. The project aimed at developing quantitative, low-cost and clinically applicable methods to assess trait, progression and preclinical markers of gait in Parkinson’s Disease, in line with the topic of the current proposal. During the doctoral period I presented my work at national (Amsterdam, Nijmegen, The Hague, Leiden) and international (UK, Spain, Germany, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland) conferences and scientific meetings in the field of wearable technology, gait and neurology. Moreover, I published four scientific articles as a fifth author in highly renewed journals.


Prior to the completion of my PhD thesis, I joined Salford University and Southampton University as a research assistant. The position was funded by the Global Challenged Funded Research scheme and focused on monitoring the use of low-cost prosthetics with wearable sensors, in collaboration with the Cambodian School of Prosthetics. In 2019 I became a research associate at Newcastle University as part of the leading team of the project Mobilise-D, funded with 50 million € by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative. This project focuses on the validation of digital mobility outcomes of real-world gait in people with mobility impairments to improve follow-up and personalized care. I was particularly responsible of standardizing, developing, validating and ranking all algorithms on spatiotemporal gait characterization. Following a 6-months period of maternity leave (from August 2022), in June 2023 I have been appointed an assistant professor in biomedical engineering at Heriot-Watt University, where I am currently developing my principal investigation leadership skills in the field of digital health technology and teaching Mechanical Engineering.



Please tell me a little about your background.


I hold a PhD in Human Movement Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands). My thesis was entitled “Time in Parkinson’s Disease” and focused on estimating clinical and preclinical markers of PD from gait (or walking) analysis with wearable sensors. The last 4 years I have devoted my work to developing and validating algorithms with the same purpose. Currently, as an assistant professor in Biomedical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh (UK), I continue with the same topic of research, trying to combine diverse digital health tools for the improvement of the disease’s management. Please, take a look at my PhD thesis (with a lovely touch on poetry, art and philosophy):


Can you tell me more about your advocacy?


I aim to develop objective and quantitative methods to assess gait in free-living conditions which can help clinicians to optimize the treatments for PD. I advocate to improve the quality’s life of patients with PD and their careers.


What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?


I have been a second national winner of the Famelab competition held in The Netherlands in 2015. I presented my work, focused on PD, with a strong and an acclaimed passion for the research in this domain. My work was presented in the Netherlands national radio and TV, and in the Science Museum of Amsterdam. Moreover, I have joined the Spanish Society for Parkinson’s Disease to disseminate the research in the field and create awareness about the disease.


What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?


The individuals with PD have participated in my experiments at Tuebingen Medical University, Germany, and at Newcastle University (UK). They have been assessed by me or by my colleagues while performing several protocols related to gait analysis. All of them have been incredibly patient, caring and supportive! Moreover, I joined the Parkinson’s Choir of the hospital from Tuebingen Medical University, which was lovely and fun! The patients here aimed to enjoy life, dance, sing and smile…


What type of training and how long are the programs?


This depends on the type of project. The project developed in Germany took about 3,5 months, whereas the project in the UK took about 4 years.


What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?


My advocacy will support the research on the disease, which ultimately may optimize its management and potentially also the diagnosis, all in all to improve the patient’s quality of life. I believe my advocacy highlights the willingness to support everyone, with passion, motivation, energy and courage.


What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?


The future goal of my advocacy stands on organizing scientific dissemination events to tackle the general audience and create awareness of the relevance of research in Parkinson’s Disease. Moreover, I plan to organize a patient and public involvement board (also called PPI board) consultancy to integrate the patients voice into the design of scientific proposals.


What events do you participate in?


I participate in conferences, congresses, scientific symposia and other scientific dissemination activities. At the moment, most of my planned activities present a strong scientific content, but I aim to include other activities for a lay public reach out.


How does your advocacy also assist the caregivers?


So far, my advocacy has not directly addressed the caregivers reach out. However, I aim to include them in the patient and public board, as their views will be meaningful in the design of future scientific proposals.


How can someone get in touch?  What is your website?


I recently joined Heriot-Watt University where I am creating my profile. Anyone can get in touch with me through my LinedIn & ResearchGate profile:

both under the name of Encarna Mico Amigo:

and by my professional email:


How can others also become advocates for awareness?


By joining national and international associations for Parkinson’s Disease, providing a summary of research content to newsletters of such associations, or contributing to the content of their blogs.


In your opinion what is the key to effective advocacy? 


Clear, useful, modest, kind, and charismatic attitude when communicating.


If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?


It is relevant to do research in Parkinson’s Disease at the time in which one can, before the time in which one could has passed…