WACL Speaker Dinner, Tuesday 15th May 2007
Robert Winston, Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College, runs a research programme in the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, on improvements in transgenic technology in animal models, with a long-term aim of improving human transplantation. He has around 300 scientific publications in peer-review journals on reproduction and embryology. He is also Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University.
His research led to the development of gynaecological microsurgery in the 1970s and various improvements in reproductive medicine, subsequently adopted internationally, particularly in the field of endocrinology and IVF. His work on preimplantation genetic diagnosis enabled families carrying gene defects to have children free of fatal illnesses. This included techniques to help families with sex-linked disorders, single gene defects (such as cystic fibrosis) and chromosomal abnormalities – for example, those causing pregnancy loss. He holds twenty-six patents.
Robert Winston has been a visiting professor at a number of American, Australian and European universities. He was President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 2005.
His awards include a Wellcome Senior Research Fellowship 1973-77, a Blair-Bell Lectureship RCOG, 1978, the Cedric Carter Medal, Clinical Genetics Society, 1993 and the Victor Bonney Medal for contributions to surgery, Royal College of Surgeons of London, 1993. He was Gold Medallist for the Royal Society of Health in 1998. In 1999 he was awarded the Faraday Medal by The Royal Society and the BMA Gold Award for Medicine in the Media. He won the Edwin Stevens Medal (the Royal Society of Medicine) in 2003, was the North of England Zoological Society’s gold medallist in 2004 and won the Al Hammadi Gold Medal at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, 2005. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of Queen Mary College, and holds honorary Fellowships of the Institute of Biology, and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He has been awarded honorary doctorates at thirteen universities.
His activities in the House of Lords include speaking regularly on education, science, medicine and the arts. He was Chairman of the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology 1999-2002, initiating enquiries into Antibiotic Resistance, Non-Food Crops, Nuclear Waste, Science and Society, Genetic Databases, Aircraft Passenger Environment, and Science in Schools. He is a board member and Vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
Robert Winston is committed to scientific education and regularly writes or hosts popular science programmes for the BBC’s main channel and Discovery networks. His series include “Your Life in Their Hands” (five series), “Making Babies, “The Human Body” (three BAFTAs, Emmy nomination and a Peabody award), “Secret Life of Twins” (BMA Gold Medal for best film), “The Superhuman” (Emmy Nomination and Wellcome Award for Medicine and Biology, 2000), “The Threads of Life” (Paris Annual Science Film Prize, 2003), “Child of our Time”, “Human Instinct” (Golden Panda Award, Shanghai, 2004 and Emmy nomination), “Walking with Cavemen”, “Human Mind” and “The Story of God”. “How to Sleep Better” won an award for the use of interactive TV, 2005. He won the VLV award for the best individual contribution to British television in 2003.
Robert Winston has published eleven books for lay readership:- “What Makes Me Me” won the Aventis Prize in 2005, and “The Human Mind” was short-listed for the same prize in that year. “Human” won the BMA First Prize for the Best Popular Medicine Book in 2005. He regularly gives seminars in schools and universities
His interests include theatre (National Directors’ Award, Edinburgh Festival 1969), matters of Jewish interest, classical music, skiing and the wines of Bordeaux, especially Paulliac. He is on the Board of the Lyric Theatre and has been involved with a number of UK charities, including Cancer Research UK, the Stem Cell Foundation, the “Women for Women” Appeal and the Association of Medical Research Charities. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a member of The Athenaeum and The Garrick Clubs, and the MCC.