UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Spotlight on Dr Cathy Holloway

We're excited to have innovators and world leaders in the healthcare engineering field join our new Management Board. Over the upcoming weeks, we will be introducing you to the full team.

Dr Cathy Holloway


Dr Cathy Holloway is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at UCL Interaction Centre. Cathy develops assistive technologies to improve the lives of the one billion disabled people living worldwide. 

Cathy is co-founder and Academic Director of the GDI Hub (Global Disability Innovation Hub) which works to improve the lives of disabled people worldwide through research and collaboration with industry, academic and charitable partners. 

Formed as a permanent legacy of the London 2012 Paralympics, the GDI Hub is transforming the world of disability tech. It is a collaborative venture, bringing together knowledge from UCL, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Loughborough University and UAL’s London College of Fashion

There are 11.6 million people with disabilities in the UK and they face daily accessibility challenges. In an article she wrote for The Guardian, Cathy describes the difficulties disabled people encounter using transport – which can then lead to social isolation and depression. She is interested in making the world an easier place for disabled people to navigate. 

One of Cathy's first projects at the Hub, Power-Up!, looked at designing new power sources and interfaces for assistive technologies, starting with wheelchairs. Another project, Accessible Routes from Crowdsourced Cloud Services (ARCCS), developed wheelchair-attachable sensors which can automatically identify a surface type and the number of pushes needed to traverse it. 

Cathy is now transferring learning from ARCCS to an international project called Street Rehab. Working with a team in India, Cathy and her colleagues are creating accessible maps of New Delhi. 


What is the highlight of your career so far?

The town hall meeting we held at UCL Here East to formally open the GDI Hub academic research centre. We welcomed the first cohort of PhD students and expanded our teaching and research teams. 

What would you like the public to know about your research?

The GDI Hub helps create new solutions for disabled people globally. We influence policy, develop products, collect data – all with the sole aim of accelerating disability innovation for a fairer world. This work is done in conjunction with a range of clinical and non-profit partners, and always with the input of disabled people.  

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt during your career so far?

Each time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to everything else. As academics, time is the most critical resource we have – so say yes wisely. However, people who know me know I am poor at following my own advice – I strive daily to get better!