Drayton & Taverham

Local Taverham boy makes good

Just Regional
May 23, 2016 3 mins read

We always like to hear about local people who have gone on to do great things – and it doesn’t get much better than Dr Mark Lemmon!

The son of a Taverham postmaster, Mark was recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, which is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from or living and working in the UK and the Commonwealth. Past Fellows and foreign members have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Mark, who is Professor of pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and co-director of the Yale Cancer Biology Institute, was one of 52 scientists elected this year. He was recognised for his pioneering contributions to the fields of cell signalling and cancer research, with work that also addresses more basic and general questions in biochemistry and biophysics.

Mark was born in 1964 on Breck Farm Lane. His family moved to Diss the following year but returned to Taverham in 1972 and lived on Miller’s Breck.

Mark’s dad, Paul Lemmon, was the postmaster at Taverham Post Office, which was then at Lemmons’ Stores, on Fakenham Road (where the Lloyds Pharmacy and Tesco Express are now).

Lemmons’ Stores was started by his grandparents Lorna and George Lemmon, and his dad and family ran the store and post office until the early 80s, when it was sold to the Rosiers and the family moved to Poringland.

While in Taverham, Mark attended St Edmund’s School, now Taverham Junior, where he remembers being taught by Mrs Sims, Mrs Shepherd, Mrs Oakes and Mr Rees. “I’m not sure I was the best behaved pupil, but there you are,” said Mark, who left the school in 1976 and went to Norwich (King Edward VI) School.

“Growing up in Taverham in the 70s was idyllic in many senses. It seemed smaller then, as it was, and more ‘rural’ than now.  There was plenty to do, from fishing to farm work, to normal kid stuff – and lots of freedom to do it.

“I remember fishing on the Costessey Road bridge over the Wensum and at the Pits and Threeways with my brother Jiff. I also worked on Gordon Greenwood’s pig farm on Fakenham Road in my summers and many weekends.”

Before moving to Yale, Mark was Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Hertford College, Oxford, and his PhD from Yale University.

To go into more detail about his research, it focuses on the signalling mechanisms of cell surface receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) that, when mutated, cause cancers and other diseases. Due to his achievements, it is now well known how the prototypical RTK (epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR) signals across membranes. The results of his investigations are now helping to guide clinical decisions, bringing biochemistry and structural biology into personalised medicine.

Despite living thousands of miles away and working on research of huge importance, Mark hasn’t forgotten his Taverham roots.

“I never really imagined ending up in the United States back then, but still wouldn’t have chosen to grow up anywhere else.”

b3f82ff4-250d-473d-8833-9a4ddfd67d22_w0 Lemmons' Stores



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