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Obituary: Professor Carlo J. De Luca was a Leading Researcher in Electrophysiology and Biomedical Engineering

By |2018-10-15T16:46:12-04:00July 22nd, 2016|

He made lasting contributions to the fields of Motor Control, Biomechanics, and Electromyography.

Carlo J. De LucaNATICK, MA — Delsys Inc. is saddened by the death of its distinguished Founder and President, Professor Carlo John De Luca who passed away on July 20, 2016 at the age of 72. A pioneer in the use of muscle recordings (Electromyography) for the study of human movement, he is recognized for introducing engineering principles to the field of neurophysiology and more recently for combining principles of motor control with the fundamentals of biomechanics. His research has made breakthroughs on the frontiers of neuromuscular control, signal processing, and electromyographic sensor technology. Like Galileo Galilee, Prof. De Luca challenged the status quo, with the understanding that empirical methods prevail over ideology to withstand the test of time.


Professor De Luca received his doctorate degree in 1972 from Queen’s University in Canada. He began his career at the Liberty Mutual Research Center, servings as Project Director for over 20 years. From 1974 to 1984 he was appointed to the faculties of MIT and Harvard Medical School where he founded the NeuroMuscular Research Laboratory. He then joined Boston University, where he held the titles of Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Founder and Director of the NeuroMuscular Research Center, Research Professor of Neurology, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Professor of Physical Therapy. He served as Dean ad interim of the College of Engineering from 1986 to 1989. In 2015 he was appointed Professor Emeritus of Boston University College of Engineering.

Professor De Luca’s accomplishments were well recognized. He was recently appointed a Fellow of the International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology (ISEK 2016). He received the 2012 Borelli Award (American Society of Biomechanics); the 2006 Tibbetts Award (Small Business Technology Council of the USA); the 1999 Isabelle and Leonard H. Goldenson Technology Award (United Cerebral Palsy Foundation); and the 1989 International Volvo Award on Low Back Pain Research (International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine).

A greatly loved teacher, he trained more than forty M.S. and Ph.D. students. Many of these individuals are now leading researchers and engineers in the field. Prof. De Luca was a strong believer in global partnerships, and actively collaborated with over 41 scientists from 14 countries over the course of his distinguished career. A lover of writing and discourse, his body of work includes, Muscles Alive, often referred to as the “bible of electromyography”, which he co-authored with his mentor and great friend John Basmajian.  Prof. De Luca has authored 122 peer-reviewed articles, 21 book chapters, and 26 patents. His writings have been cited over 21,000 times.

Professor De Luca believed strongly in providing opportunities for both young and established investigators in the field. He is the Founder and President of the Neuromuscular Research Foundation, an organization that provides support for research in the fields of Electromyography, Motor Control, and Biomechanics across the globe.

Committed to the practical translation of technology from the lab to the marketplace, Professor De Luca founded Delsys Inc., where he served as its President and CEO since 1993. Under his leadership, Delsys grew from a small technology-transfer company to the global leader in the design and manufacture of electromyographic sensors for studying human movement. The scientific tools he created for conducting brain and behavior research are in use today in thousands of labs spanning the disciplines of motor control, robotics, physical rehabilitation, sports science, and neurology. Today, Delsys through its research arm Altec Inc., complements its product development with a team of researchers that provide a foundation for new perspectives and methodologies for decades to come, predicated on the work and teachings of Professor De Luca.

On a personal note, Carlo lived a fully-realized American dream. An only-child and model immigrant from a small mountain village in Italy (Bagnoli del Trigno), he maintained a strong work ethic and uncompromising devotion to scholarship, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and family. He cherished history, music, and of course science. He was in his element recounting wonderful stories about the great thinkers in science that changed the course of history. Carlo loved everything about scientific research and maintained a lifelong commitment to it. His passion for science and rare ability to communicate complex ideas with compelling simplicity has fostered many a personal and professional relationship among his peers.

Professor De Luca is survived by his beloved wife Devi and his cherished Delsys-family who remain steadfast in continuing his mission.

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