Professor Cathy Price Reflects on her time as Head of the Department of Imaging Neuroscience
The UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology recently announced that Professor Martina Callaghan has been appointed as the new Head of Department of Imaging Neuroscience. This position has been held by Professor Cathy Price for the past 7 years, alongside her role of Director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, which she will continue.
The UCL Department of Imaging Neuroscience includes staff based at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, The Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing, and a number of affiliated UCL staff and Research Fellows.
We asked Prof. Price to reflect on her time as Head of Department of Imaging Neuroscience, and to discuss her proudest achievements and highlights from the past 7 years, as well as her hopes for the future of the Department.
What was your vision as Head of Department when you first started?
My vision was to ensure that we conducted a wide range world class scientific programmes and that every researcher was able to articulate how our neuroimaging methodologies could make discoveries that might be relevant to clinical practice in the future.
What has the role of Head of Department meant to you?
Being head of department is a huge responsibility and an information gathering and sharing experience. It requires a clear vision of what we are collectively trying to achieve, the direction we need to take and the obstacles we need to overcome to sail towards our destination. The heart of the role is in networking and communication. I have therefore had the unique opportunity and privilege to interact with, and learn from, different groups of people with a very wide range of expertise – including the neuroscientists, technicians and managers in our own department, clinical scientists at the Institute of Neurology, numerous staff in UCL finance and human resources and the high and mighty who govern UCL and Wellcome. I’m also incredibly grateful to all the people who personally supported me, particularly Eleanor Maguire, Martina Callaghan, Karl Friston, Marina Anderson, Mark Alderson and many more. There is no doubt that I have benefitted immensely from the experience and I’ve certainly enjoyed making new friends in new places. Now I am looking forward to having more sleep (:>).
What has been your proudest achievement as Head of Department?
I have taken great pride in representing our brilliant staff in grant applications and promotions. I’m particularly proud that we were able to recruit Peter Kok whose research is central to our scientific agenda and Cassie Hugill – who has transformed our public facing programme and research culture. We doubled the number of the PIs at our executive meeting to become more inclusive and outward facing, and expanded the Physics and Methods teams. I also found it extremely gratifying to be involved in the promotion process for Guillaume Flandin and Peter Zeidman within the Methods team, to ensure that Peter Kok, Tobias Hauser, Dominik Bach and David Thomas were given long term UCL positions, and to represent Gareth Barnes, Martina Callaghan, and Vladimir Litvak as they transitioned to Academic Professorships.
Tell us about one of the highlights of holding the position of Head of Department?
Without doubt, the highlight of my time as Head of Department was January 31st 2020 when, in a single day, we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our Functional Imaging Laboratory, launched our new 7T MRI and OPM-MEG facilities and released the new website that I had been designing and writing for 5 years. It was all the culmination of so much effort – and it all completed just a couple of months before 2 years of lockdowns. Our offices then went from buzzing to desertion – and it’s so good to see them coming back to life again now.
What do you hope for the future of the Department?
I don’t need to hope that the department will continue to thrive because there are so many exciting scientific projects and technologies that are blooming. I also know that Martina will be implementing a range of new improvements to our scientific and operational agendas and also to our research culture. So what I really hope for is that the transition to new funding models goes smoothly and without hassle for the leadership and administration teams and that Martina enjoys the Head of Department role.
Professor Martina Callaghan’s new position as Head of the Department of Imaging Neuroscience began in April 2022. Martina and Cathy will continue to work together to ensure the future excellence and success of the Department.