Hugh Harvey

That was 9.9999 on the fun scale! Go #teamHugh

Favourite Thing: I think being able to see inside people is really cool!



Imperial College, London to study medicine from 2000 to 2006


14 GCSEs (including ALL the sciences), 4 A-Levels (Biology, Maths, Physics and Chemistry), a medical degree (MBBS), a science degree (BSc), a radiology degree (FRCR) and I’m working towards a research degree (MD)

Work History:

I’ve worked in hospitals all over the south of England, including London, Chichester and Brighton

Current Job:

I’m finding out if we can use X-rays to find diseases faster and make people better!


The Institute of Cancer Research

Me and my work

I’m a doctor that takes X-rays to look inside you and see your bones and other bits!

I’m a special type of doctor that uses X-rays – called a RADIOLOGIST.


A ‘radiologist’ means that we use RADIATION to do things. Radiation is like tiny invisible waves of light. Just like taking a photograph, we can use X-ray radiation to take ‘see-through’ pictures of the human body. The only problem is – radiation can be dangerous, so we have to be very careful about how many X-rays we use!

You might have had an X-ray if you were ever unlucky enough to break a bone! Or maybe your dentist has used X-rays to take pictures of your teeth?

X-rays are a special type of electromagnetic wave. They are a bit like light, but they are invisible. (This is why I’m in the Light Zone!) They have a short wavelength (the distance between the tops of the waves is super small), and they have a high energy. The high energy of X-rays means they can pass straight through you, but they can also damage you if you have too many at the same time. X-rays are found on the electromagnetic spectrum. They were discovered by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895, and are also called ‘Roentgen rays’ by some people.

    The electromagnetic spectrum

Did you know that the sun and the stars are also a source of X-rays?

My work:

These days I spend half my time looking at X-ray pictures of the body, and the other half doing cancer research.

RESEARCH means asking scientific questions and finding the answers using experiments. I can use any of our scanner machines in new experiments, in different and exciting ways! We are working on making the pictures better quality, faster and more accurate.


What is cancer research?

Cancer is a disease that starts anywhere in the body. A few tiny cells start growing in strange ways, and get bigger and bigger and bigger over time. When the cancer is big enough you start to get very sick. If we can design machines to take pictures of cancer when it is really, really small then we can stop it growing before it gets too big!

The big question I want to know the answer to is ‘Can we find cancer earlier than is already possible?‘. If we can find a new way to find cancer inside people then maybe we can make them better faster!

My Typical Day

My day changes all the time – some days I’m scanning people, other days I’m doing research

On Mondays and Tuesdays I spend my time doing research – performing experiments and looking at the results.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays I work as a radiologist, looking at pictures of people who are sick, and finding out what is wrong with them.

On Fridays I write about everything I have done that week. At the end of my research degree (it takes 2 years 🙁 ) I need to write a really long book about my experiments and my results! Hopefully I will be able to write about a new way to find cancer in men.

What I'd do with the money

I would like to help buy a 3D printer for a school

3D printing is a new and exciting way of making things. Just like printing on a piece of paper, we can use a 3D printer to make a whole object in one go!
myimage9 I like to 3D print parts of the body – and maybe in the future doctors will use this technology to replace bits of the body that don’t work properly. Look at this jaw I printed – it was broken in an accident, but now you can see where the surgeons have screwed it back together!

It’s important for you to know about this technology, and have a chance to practice using it. You can print anything you want – it’s all up to your imagination!

I would use the money to help buy a 3D printer for a school so that you can learn how to use it, and maybe one day YOU can have a job making things for doctors to help their patients!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Very very busy

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Alt J

What's your favourite food?

Lasagne … mmmm! In fact anything with melted cheese!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I worked for 6 months on a desert island looking after turtles

What did you want to be after you left school?

I wanted to be a doctor ever since I can remember! And now I am!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Oh, lots! But not serious trouble…. just a few detentions here and there!

What was your favourite subject at school?

I was quite good at French, but really enjoyed Biology – especially when we had to cut up a frog!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I’ve helped cure people from cancer, which is the ultimate disease doctors are facing

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

When I was little I had a big book of anatomy that was as big and tall as I was! I would read it all the time, and learn all the bits of the body

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A musician – I love playing the piano, and I still practice every day! Playing the piano is very relaxing, and can impress my friends!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

I wish I could play the piano really amazingly well! I also wish to travel the whole world! Then I would wish for more wishes! (Is that cheating?)

Tell us a joke.

“Doctor, doctor, I’ve swallowed my pen, what should I do?” “Use a pencil !”

Other stuff

Work photos:

Inside every hospital there is a department that takes X-rays! We have signs like this, warning people not to come in because X-rays can be dangerous if you don’t prepare properly.


Inside our department we have big super-expensive machines that can take pictures of your insides!


The one on the left here is an MRI scanner – it’s a massive magnet!



The one on the right is a CT scanner which uses thousands of X-ray beams to get a 3D picture of your insides! It’s been opened up so you can see all the cool sciencey machine-parts!



Here are some of the pictures we can get!

  • These are the hands – you can get a really good look at all the bones!
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  • And this one is someone’s brain! There’s a bit missing because they have had brain surgery – can you see the missing bit?
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  • This person hurt their chin while skating – but can you see the little dollar sign they’ve had stuck on to one of their teeth? Some people are strange!
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    We can even make 3D models of your insides, made up from the pictures we take…