Email: Mark Lythgoe  

 previous pagecontents  

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION                                                         

Professor Mark Lythgoe is the founder and Director of the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, which is a new multidisciplinary research centre for experimental imaging at University College London. Mark has published over 100 papers including publications in Nature, Nature Medicine and The Lancet. Mark has been awarded £24 million for his programme of research and leads a group of 35 researchers. Major scientific discoveries include new imaging methods to assess stem cells, heart attack, epilepsy, stroke and cancer. He is also the Director of the UCL Doctoral Training Programme in Biomedical Imaging. Mark has received the Davies Medal for a ‘significant contribution to imaging science’, as well as awards from the Biosciences Federation and British Associated for the Advancement of Science for his contributions to communicating science.






Public Engagement of Science  

Mark is Director of the Cheltenham Science Festival, which is one of the largest science festivals in the world, attended by 48,000 people.  Over the last decade he has produced many popular series for TV & radio on imaging or neuroscience; for example, over 17 million people worldwide have now seen his first C4 programme. Mark has also given over 200 invited lectures to more than 250,000 adults and children. In 2004, Mark became the first Scientist in Residence at the National Theatre in London and was also the first scientist to have an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London. Mark has collaborated with >20 artists to produce >30 exhibitions.  Mark was a member of the team that was awarded £1.5m to establish UCL as a Beacon of Public Engagement as part of a  nationwide initiative to get universities more closely involved with the wider public. 

Mark has given invited talks at The Royal Society, The Royal Institution, Royal Geographical Society, The Tate, Royal Festival Hall, The Science Museum, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Jerwood Prize, National Science week, Hay Literature Festival, Liverpool Biennial Arts Festival, Bristol International Film Festival.


After Einstein's autopsy  his brain was sectioned. Its location then remained a mystery for 55 years. The brain has now been recreated for the Channel 4 programme 'The secret of Einstein's brain'. 


Television and Radio


Mark has presented a number of programmes:

2011: Erased Minds and Spotless Memories: For Radio 4 Dr. Mark Lythgoe investigates the science of memory erasing.

2009: Images that Changed the World. 5 part series. BBC Radio 4. The influence of medical images on culture.

2009: Guardian Science Weekly Podcast: Improvisation and creativity with Alok Jha

2009: Why is Science Important. Podcast with Alom Shaha

2007: Inside Intuition. BBC Radio 4 The neuroscience behind intuition.

2007: Image of a troubled mind. 2 part series. BBC Radio 4. Can modern imaging destigmatise mental illness such as depression or schizophrenia?

2007: Skewed View Series CNN. People and ideas that have the potential to change the world in which we live, be it through technology, science, the arts or humanities.

2007: The Two New Cultures. 2 part series. BBC Radio 4. Explores split between the science and art to find out why CP Snow’s lecture caused a global controversy.  

2006: The Scientific Method. As part of a series 'If I could teach the world one thing about science'.

2006: Say what you think. BBC Radio 4. Neuroscience of learning a second language (article PDF File).

2006: Get smarter in a week. BBC1. Neuroscience of brain learning.

2006: Alternative Medicine Series BBC2. Effects of acupuncture on the brain - contributor

2005: Zapped. Discovery and Channel 4. 2 part series. The interaction of electricity with the human body and mind

2005: The Secret of Einstein's Brain. Channel 4 and National Geographic.

2005: Is this the one? BBC3. 8 part series. The science of love, attraction and compatibility.

2004: Mind Games. BBC4 – contributor.




Mark has written a diary account of his life as a scientist in "Science, not Art", in which a young generation of scientists kept diaries over several months to reveal, with an unusual honesty, the frustrations, comic ironies and occasional breakthroughs in the charged and highly competitive world of contemporary science. What do mathematicians actually do? How are hypotheses dreamed up and then tested in space physiology, climate change or neuroscience? And how does an intense commitment to understanding more about the world impact on scientists' private lives?  (Science, Not Art: Ten Scientists' Diaries; Editor Jon Turney; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; ISBN: 0903319985, June 2003). 

essays, articles and press


World Record Holder 

As part of the TV programme 'Zapped' which aims to dispel the myths surrounding electricity and what it can and can't do, Mark entered into a world record attempt.

He, along with the rest of the team, now hold the World Record for the largest number of people (250) an electric charge (300,000 v) has been passed through. Documented by the Guinness Book of Records on 21 Nov 2004.


Film still from Mapping Perception. Dirs Kotting and Lythgoe




Science and Art

In the last 15 years Mark has combined science and art to engage with the public, explore new boundaries and increase interaction between these fields. In a quest to go beyond understanding the brain at a scientific level, Dr Lythgoe has explored aspects of neuroscience – e.g. perception, the biology of creativity, the senses – through the arts. He has produced many sci/art projects and collaborated with a wide variety of artist to create works from sculpture to film. These collaborations has led to projects in the theatre ('Dream Play' with the National Theatre’s Katie Mitchell), film (with Andrew Kötting to produce film and installation ‘Mapping Perception’), and a variety of visual arts such as Richard Wentworth at the Tate; collaborating with the V&A museum to produce their ‘Touch Me’ exhibition; creating ‘Topologies of the Mind’ with sculptor Angela Palmer; examining medical imagery in art with artist Helen Sear; staging the exhibition ‘Chimera’ with visual artist Jayne Gouge; and producing sculptures of our thoughts with Annie Cattrell, exhibited at the Anne Faggionato Gallery, the Royal Institute and the Science Museum). In 2006 Mark designed and produced the sci/art exhibition AfterImage at the Hayward Gallery, London, which investigated our perception of light and colour as part of the Dan Flavin exhibition and was attend by an estimated 120,000 people.




Selected Exhibitions and Shows

2010 onwards listed on the CABI web site

2009: Point of Perception: Madi Boyd and Mark Lythgoe. venue tbc.

2009: Life on the Inside: The Truth About Bugs and Germs. Cheltenham Science Festival

2008: Music and the Mind: Improvisation at the Wellcome Collection, London.

2008: Big Draw. Richard Wentworth and Mark Lythgoe at UCL

2008: Pay Attention to Me. Designed and curated with Gerrard O’Carroll. Science Gallery, Dublin. 

2007: AfterTrace , with Georgia Chatzivasileiadi at Science Oxford

2006: Mapping Perception Film. BIOS 4 at the Andalusian Centre of Contemporary Art in Seville

2006: Topologies of the Mind with Angela Palmer , Fine Art Society, Huntarian Museum.

2006: AfterImage, Dan Flavin- A Retrospective  exhibition at the Hayward Gallery

2005: Touch Me, V&A museum in London. Article (pdf file) for the V&A's summer show

2004: Future Face, Science Museum, London

2004: Mapping Perception - Installation. La Rochelle, Tour de Bartholemy, France.

2004: Topologies of the Mind. Maltby Gallery, Winchester.

2004: LIFT Enquiry into the nature of theatre, Katie Mitchell,  Royal Festival Hall.  

2004: Dream Play, National Theatre, Katie Mitchell and Caryl Churchill, Science Advisor: article (pdf file)

2004: Richard Wentworth retrospective, Tate Liverpool. article (pdf file) for Tate.

2002: TwoTen gallery, Truth and Beauty exhibition,

2002: Mapping Perception– FILM, Directors Andrew Kotting and Mark Lythgoe

2002: Mapping Perception – Installation, Café Gallery, London.

2001: Hearing and Seeing, with Annie Cattrell, Anne Faggionato gallery, the Royal Institute, the Science Museum

2001: Birmingham Discovery Centre: installations to investigate the brain areas that control our senses

1999: Explore at Bristol: installations to investigate the brain areas that control our senses

1999: Chimera, with Jayne Gouge

1998: Coil Magazine, with Helen Sear



Stroke of a Genius

As well as collaborating with artists to gain new perspectives on neuroscience, he has looked into the neuroscience of creativity itself, studying a former builder who developed an insatiable need to create – painting, drawing, writing and sculpting – after suffering a stroke.  This unusual case, which was published in the journal Neurology by Dr Lythgoe, has now been made the subject of a Channel 4 and National Geographic programme that aims to discus the wider issues of the neurobiology of creativity.




Film still from 'The Secret of Einstein's Brain'



Climbing and other activities

Mark has also lived and worked in many different counties and environments.  At 21 he served his apprenticeship in a Manchester factory as a semi-skilled extrusionist, making flexible plastic pipes.  Next a rather painful experience in Israel as the dog-trainer’s-dummy, before progressing to the more comfortable end of the dog as attack dog trainer.  Following which he moved to outback of Australia working as a researcher on board the ‘flying-doctor’ flights investigating the prevalence of tuberculosis in the Aboriginal population.


Climbing was always a passion with Mark and after spending several seasons in the Italian Dolomites and Pyrenees, as well as trips to Kenya, he moved to South America climbing many of the inaccessible peaks.   After several expeditions and a difficult experience on Sangay, the most active volcano in South America, together with the loss of several friends on other expeditions, Mark retuned for a rest and an academic life starting with a PhD in Biophysics from University College London.

    Email: Mark Lythgoe Mailto  Dr. Mark Lythgoe  
Hit Counter