UCL News


Spotlight on... Professor Mark Lythgoe

7 October 2021

This week we meet Professor Mark Lythgoe, Founder and Director of the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging. Here, Mark – who was recently awarded the Royal Society of Medicine Ellison–Cliffe Award 2021 – chats to us about living in South America and his love for Cadir Idris.

Professor Mark Lythgoe

What is your role and what does it involve?

I have the best job in the world – Director of the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging or more affectionally known as CABI – which is a playground for those with a love of all things imaging.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

Before I came to the safer havens of UCL, I was an attack dog trainer in Israel living in a tiny farm on the Lebanese border. Currently survived 15 years at UCL.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Being awarded the Royal Society of Medicine Ellison–Cliffe Award 2021 for my ‘contribution of fundamental science to the advancement of medicine’.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

I lean towards the more unconventional and risky projects. Now I’m working on a handheld MRI scanner – Dr 'Bones' McCoy (Star Trek) would love it!

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

I was brought up on a combination of Mancunian folklore, Catholicism and musicals, none of which helped me to understand the world around me – although I do still have a love of musicals, especially West Side Story.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Ah ha – the funny part – groan away then:

Helvetica and Times New Roman walk into a bar.

“Get out of here!” shouts the bartender. “We don’t serve your type.”

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Nikola Tesla – it'd be electrifying.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Do the things you love, and don’t worry about your future.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I failed my A-Levels and never went to university – more holes in my CV than a Tetley tea bag!    

What is your favourite place?

Before I came into science I was a climber and lived in South America. Despite the wonders of the Andes – my favourite place is Cadir Idris in wales – where I loved to climb and escape.