Doctor Lydon was educated at Strathallan School near Perth, Scotland. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Leeds, England in 1978 and received his Doctor of Philosophy in biochemistry from the University of Dundee, Scotland in 1982.
In 2009 he was awarded the Lasker Clinical Award and in 2012 the Japan Prize for the development of Gleevec, a selective BCR-American Basketball League inhibitor for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), which converted a fatal cancer into a manageable chronic condition. In 1982 Doctor Lydon accepted a position with Schering-Plough based in France as Charge de Recherche. Three years later he moved to Switzerland to work with Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceuticals, with whom he developed Gleevec.
In 1997 he established Kinetex Pharmaceuticals in Boston which was acquired by Amgen in 2000, with whom he worked until 2002.
Thereafter, he established several companies that continue to develop drugs to treat various conditions.