Andrew Lees qualified in medicine at the Royal London Hospital Medical College in 1970. His postgraduate clinical training in neurology was undertaken at l’Hôpital de la Salpetrière, Paris, University College London Hospital and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Andrew Lees is Chairman of the Medical Advisory Panel of the PSP Association and an advisor to the UK Medical Research Council. He has achieved international recognition for his work in Parkinson’s disease and abnormal movement disorders and was elected President of the International Movement Disorder Society. In 2006, he was awarded the prestigious Movement Disorders Research Award by the American Academy of Neurology which recognises an individual for outstanding work in the field of Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders for either a single outstanding contribution or for lifetime achievement. The following year Andrew Lees was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and received an NIHR Senior Investigators Award in 2008. Professor Andrew Lees is an original member of the Highly Cited Researchers ISI Database. He is Visiting Professor to both the University of Liverpool and the Universidade Federal de Ceara, Fortaleza, Brazil and in 2010 was elected an overseas member of the Academia Nacional de Medicina, Brazil; he is also an elected overseas member of fifteen national neurological societies. Please enjoy my interview with the remarkable Andrew Lees.
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I am a neurologist which means I diagnose and care for patients with disorders of the nervous system.
I am currently reading The Naturalist on the River Amazons by Henry Walter Bates.
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
I remember reading the Just William stories by Richmal Crompton.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An ethnobotanist working in the Amazon basin.
What do you think your school-aged self would think of the present day you?
He’d think I’d sold out.
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be and why?
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, my invisible mentor who has been a guiding light in my curiosity for cures.
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
I have always read on going to bed but now I have more time I also read in the evenings too.
Which book has had the biggest impact on your career so far? How did it impact it?
The Sherlock Holmes canon by Arthur Conan Doyle –it taught me how to pay attention to trifles and be a ‘noticer’.
Do you have any books that you strongly associate with someone important in your life?
The Republic of Dreams by Nelida Pinon which helped me understand the Galician part of my wife’s personality and backed up my geography teachers zest for a place he’d never visited, Brazil.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
V by Tony Harrison and the Complete Works of Matt Simpson.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Do you think reading is important?
Reading makes me better. It helps inner space travel. You can’t be a writer if you don’t read.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
The best book I’ve read in the last 6 months is The Sea of Death by Jorge Amado.
Real books but I have a kindle.
Name a book that you feel everyone would benefit from reading and explain why.
William Blake’s poetical works because of its powers of transcendence and revelation.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
The Gospel of Luke. I read it aloud to myself; it has comforted me and strengthened me in times of desolation.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
I’d also include Out Of His Skin by Dave Hill.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
Top quality psychedelic literature.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?