Lisa Bunn

Academic profile

Dr Lisa Bunn

Associate Head of School (Postgraduate Study)
School of Health Professions (Faculty of Health)

The Global Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Lisa's work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

Goal 03: SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-beingGoal 04: SDG 4 - Quality EducationGoal 10: SDG 10 - Reduced InequalitiesGoal 17: SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

About Lisa

Associate Head of School for Postgraduate Study. Doctoral college coordinator for the School of Health Professions. Programme Lead of the Masters of Clinical Research and Chair of the Taught Masters Ethics and Integrity Committee, Faculty of Health. HCPC registered Physiotherapist.

Lisa's neurological rehabilitation research first explores pathophysiology, to guide targeted therapies, and then evaluate novel therapeutic design through clinical trial "Lab to living room"

Lisa is a specialist in the neurophysiology of human movement and translational clinical neuroscience. A clinical-academic herself, consulting at the National Ataxia Centre at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery whilst at UCL, Lisa champions clinical-academic career pathways for those bridging in from clinical sectors.

Lisa holds prominent roles on the Health Education England/National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) regional committee that awards internships and fellowships to people bridging into research at pre- and post-doctoral levels. Lisa reviews Health Technology Assessment applications for the NIHR and is part of the Advisory Committee developing the new National Institute of Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) Guideline for Rehabilitation of Neurological Conditions.

In addition to NIHR and NICE roles, Lisa is extremely proud to be a long standing member of Action for AT’s scientific advisory committee, reviewing world leading research proposals in the field of Ataxia Telangiectasia. To date her role with the committee has contributed to to decisions to fund over £5 million of research into this rare genetically inherited neurological condition that is still awaiting an effective disease modifying intervention.

Lisa strategically leads postgraduate education and research in the School of Health Professions. Lisa teaches mainly on postgraduate programmes, such as the Masters of Clinical Research and Masters in Advanced Practice as well as by invitation externally. Lisa has supervised a number of PhD and MSc students to completion and has extensively mentored allied health professionals in practice. Lisa module leads core postgraduate inter-professional research modules offered across the MClinRes and Advanced Professional Practice Masters in the Faculty of Health.

As a Chair of the Faculty of Health's Ethics and Integrity Committee, Lisa plays an integral role in the research approvals and governance as well as strategic development of this service.

Lisa joined the University in April 2011, helping to develop the flagship MSc in Neurological Rehabilitation and MSc in Clinical Research as well as teaching undergraduate neurological, respiratory and musculoskeletal physiotherapy and developing key syllabus modules such as complex care in trauma. Having worked clinically in acute and rehabilitation, in specialist regional and national centres, Lisa specialises in inherited neurological conditions, movement disorders and neuromuscular disease, paediatric neurology and oncology, acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury and sensory neuropathies.

Since joining the University of Plymouth Lisa has collaborated with staff members and external researchers and charities in order to investigate (i) Assessment of ataxia in children with posterior-fossa tumour resection, (ii) Assessment of inherited ataxias (iii) An Oculomotor Pilot Therapy for Improving Movement of the Eyes in Multiple Sclerosis (OptimEYEs MS), (iv) the effects of localised temperature changes on muscle stiffness for people with Multiple Sclerosis and Hereditary Spastic Paraparesis, (v) standing balance impairments in young people with Down Syndrome, (vi) the effect of cataract surgery on balance and (vii) use of widely available commercial devices as an option for clinically measuring balance in children with balance impairment.

Since the launch of the Brain Research and Imaging Centre (BRIC) in 2022, Lisa is working in the Sensorimotor Control Laboratory funded by a world-leading commercial clinical research project.

Previously based in the 'Sensori-motor Control Group' in Queen Square (University College London), Lisa undertook a PhD investigating sensory mechanisms of balance control in cerebellar disease. Lisa worked as a post-doc leading a feasibility RCT involving participants with rare conditions across the breadth of the UK, in collaboration with the Specialist Ataxia Centre at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery (lead clinician Dr Paola Giunti). Lisa also worked with Prof Giunti during her early post-doc career on the European EUROSCA project.

Lisa now leads a large co-production programme of research investigating rare paediatric ataxia.

In her clinical career Lisa has worked in the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery (UCLH), at the Regional Trauma Centre and Regional Paediatric Neuro-rehabilitation Centre at North Bristol NHS Trust and Stoke Mandeville's National Spinal Injuries Centre (Buckinghamshire).

Lisa has won prizes such as the Gordon Holme's prize for Clinical Neuroscience from the Royal Society of Medicine and student (SSTAR) awards for 'Most Innovative Use of Teaching Methods', 'Most dedicated dissertation/project supervisor of the year' and 'Personal Tutor of the Year'.

Supervised Research Degrees

PhD Completed:
PhD student, Catherine Bain, Fight for Sight fellowship:  Improving visual field tests for populations with advanced glaucoma and visual field loss in the far periphery (Awarded 2021)
Current PhD supervision:

PhD student, Helen Hartley, NIHR fellowship, ASPECT Study : The ASsessment and Physiotherapy managEment of ataxia in Children following surgical resection of posterior fossa Tumour", ref:ICA-CDRF-2016-02-065 for an ICA Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship, Health Education England. £223,377.00 Children following surgical resection of posterior fossa Tumour

Director of Studies: PhD student: Nesibe Cakmak, Fellowship from the Turkish Government: Physiotherapy approaches for balance rehabilitation in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Director of Studies: PhD student: Munira Khan, Studentship from main PI Bunn award from Action for AT: 
MSc student completion: n=27
Current MSc student: n=5


Lisa teaches interprofessional cohorts of students (AHPs, nurses, medics, dentists, healthcare scientists) at undergraduate and postgraduate (Masters and PhD) levels. A physiotherapist herself, Lisa has taught extensively across the Physiotherapy program in addition to Advanced Professional Practice modules within APP Neuro-rehabilitation and the Masters of Clinical Research (MClinRes: Dr Lisa Bunn, programme leader).

Specialist areas (clinical):

  • Ataxia and cerebellar disease
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Balance
  • Neuro-physiology and sensorimotor control
  • Complex case management
Specialist areas (research):
  • Quantitative approaches
  • Mixed methods
  • Co-production
  • Evidence synthesis and guideline development
  • Ethics and governance
Lisa holds a special interest in international healthcare research and, as well as being Director of Studies to two current international PhD students, Lisa has championed international students joining an NIHR instigated Masters of Clinical Research to globalise the MClinRes curriculum and help address global health inequality through an enhanced understanding of how research is embedded in health care across the globe. See our feature about how Lisa's work has contributed to the clinical academic career of a now prestigious medic in Nepal.


Contact Lisa

InterCity Place, Plymouth Railway Station, North Road East,, Plymouth, PL4 6AB