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Professor John Lees obtained his PhD from the University of Leicester working on the development of low noise microchannel plate X-ray imaging cameras for the Chandra X-ray Observatory and novel X-ray polarimetry instruments. John was the UK detector scientist on the NASA/UK X-ray telescope Chandra, during which he pioneered the calibration of space instrumentation using synchrotron sources. His areas of research include space instrumentation and imaging systems for the Life and Medical sciences.

John pioneered interdisciplinary research within the Department of Physics & Astronomy, expanding his research in advanced sensors for astronomy, establishing collaborations with the Life Sciences community (both within the University of Leicester and with other institutes and industry). In 1999, he was awarded a University of Leicester research fellowship to establish and lead the Bioimaging Unit. Since then, he has generated five patents and attracted around £3 million in research funding and commercial contracts.

In 1999, after establishing the BioImaging Unit, John’s interests have extended into the development of a range of instruments for the Life and Medical Sciences, including CCD technology for gamma cameras use in imaging lymph node cancers. He also lead the research into compound semiconductor detectors. Current collaborations include research groups from the Department of Medical Physics (University of Nottingham), Microelectronics Technology research group (Newcastle University) and the Semiconductor Materials & Devices Group (University of Sheffield).


A major focus of John’s current research programme is novel gamma-ray cameras for medical and non-clinical applications. One strand of this research has led to a breakthrough technology: an innovative hand-held Hybrid Gamma Camera for medical and veterinary applications e.g. surgery, oncology and gastroenterology. John has also led commercialisation of the Hybrid Gamma Camera through the formation of a spin out company Gamma Technologies Limited in collaboration with the University of Nottingham.

Elsewhere, he leads research on wide band gap semiconductors for soft X-ray detectors. This research, in collaboration with the universities of Sheffield and Newcastle, is leading to novel spectroscopic X-ray detectors that can operate at relatively high temperatures. This research will have significant benefits in Space Instrumentation as well as in industrial and medical applications.