Robert Winston

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For the American football coach, see Robert Winston (coach).
The Right Honourable Professor
The Lord Winston
FMedSci FRSA FRCP
FRCOG FIBiol FREng(Hon)
Robert Winston at Borders Oxford (cropped).jpg
Winston speaking about his book at Borders Oxford
Personal details
Born (1940-07-15) 15 July 1940 (age 74)
London, England
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Lira, Lady Winston (1973–)
Children 3
Alma mater The London Hospital Medical College, University of London
Occupation Surgeon, scientist, television presenter, politician, and peer
Religion Orthodox Judaism
Signature
Website robertwinston.org.uk
from the BBC programme The Life Scientific, 20 December 2011.[1]

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Robert Maurice Lipson Winston, Baron Winston FMedSci FRSA FRCP FRCOG FIBiol FREng(Hon)[2] (born 15 July 1940) is a professor, medical doctor, scientist, television presenter and politician.

Early life and education[edit]

Robert Winston was born in London to Laurence Winston and Ruth Winston-Fox, and raised as an Orthodox Jew. His mother was Mayor of the former Borough of Southgate. Winston's polymath father died as a result of medical negligence when Winston was nine years old, which was partly the inspiration for his eventual career choice. Robert has two younger siblings: a sister, Willow, and a brother, Anthony.[3]

Winston attended firstly Salcombe Preparatory School until the age of 7, followed by Colet Court and St Paul's School, later graduating from The London Hospital Medical College, University of London, in 1964 with a degree in medicine and surgery and achieved prominence as an expert in human fertility. For a brief time he gave up clinical medicine and worked as a theatre director,[4] winning the National Directors' Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1969.[5] On returning to academic medicine, he developed tubal microsurgery and various techniques in reproductive surgery, including sterilisation reversal.

Personal life[edit]

In 1973, Winston married Lira Helen Feigenbaum (now The Lady Winston). They have three children. He is a fan of Arsenal Football Club.[6] He is a council member of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Athenaeum Club in London.[5]

Winston gives 20–30 public lectures a year on scientific subjects and has helped to promote science literacy and education by founding the Reach Out Laboratory in Imperial College. He owns a classic 1930s Bentley.[3]

Medical career[edit]

Winston joined Hammersmith Hospital as a registrar in 1970 as a Wellcome Research Fellow. He became an Associate Professor at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) in 1975. He was a scientific advisor to the World Health Organisation's programme in human reproduction from 1975 to 1977. He joined The Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London as consultant and Reader in 1977. After conducting research as Professor of Gynaecology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1980, he returned to the UK setting up the IVF service at Hammersmith Hospital which pioneered various improvements in this technology, and became Dean of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in London until its merger with Imperial College in 1997. As Professor of Fertility Studies at Hammersmith, Winston led the IVF team that pioneered preimplantation genetic diagnosis, which identifies defects in human embryos.

He was the president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science from 2004 to 2005. Together with Carol Readhead of the California Institute of Technology, Winston is researching male germ cell stem cells and methods for their genetic modification at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London. He has published over 300 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.[7] He was appointed as a new chair at Imperial College, Professor of Science and Society. He is Chairman of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Trust and chairs the Women-for-Women Appeal charity.

Winston is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci), an Honorary Fellow[8] of the Royal Academy of Engineering[9] (HonFREng) and Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FRCOG), and of the Royal College of Physicians of London (FRCP), and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS Edin), Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (FRCPS Glasg), and the Institute of Biology (FIBiol). He holds honorary doctorates from sixteen universities.[10] He is a member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council where he chairs the Societal Issues Panel, and patron of The Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Winston holds strong views about the commercialisation of fertility treatment. He believes that ineffective treatments are sometimes used so that the patients will return and pay for repeat treatments. He is also sceptical about the effectiveness of screening for conditions such as cancer and heart disease.[3]

Media career[edit]

Winston lecturing in 2002

Winston was the presenter of many BBC television series, including Superhuman, The Secret Life of Twins, Child of Our Time, Human Instinct, and the BAFTA award-winner The Human Body. As a traditional Jew with an orthodox background,[11] he also presented The Story of God, exploring the development of religious beliefs and the status of faith in a scientific age. He presented the BBC documentary "Walking with Cavemen", a major BBC series that presented some controversial views about early man but was endorsed by leading anthropologists and scientists. One theory was that Homo sapiens have a uniquely developed imagination that helped them to survive. Winston's documentary Threads of Life won the international science film prize in Paris in 2005. His BBC series Child Against All Odds explored ethical questions raised by IVF treatment. In 2008, he presented Super Doctors, about decisions made every day in frontier medicine.

In 2007, Winston appeared in the TV series Play It Again, in which he attempted to learn to play the saxophone, despite not having played a musical instrument since the age of 11, when he learned the recorder.[12]

Among many BBC Radio 4 programmes, he has appeared on The Archers radio soap as a fertility consultant. He appeared on The Wright Stuff as a panellist in February 2011. Winston is featured in the Symphony of Science episode Ode to the Brain. He also took part in 2011 TV series Jamie's Dream School.

Political career[edit]

Winston was created a life peer on 18 December 1995 as Baron Winston, of Hammersmith in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.[13][14][15] He sits on the Labour Party benches in the House of Lords and takes the Labour whip. He speaks frequently in the House of Lords on education, science, medicine and the arts. He was Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology and a board member and Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

Current posts[edit]

Honors and awards[edit]

Television documentaries[edit]

Published work[edit]

  • "Reversibility of Female Sterilization" (1978)
  • Co-author "Tubal Infertility" (1981)
  • "Infertility – a sympathetic approach" (1985)
  • "Getting Pregnant" (1989)
  • "Making Babies" (1996)
  • "The IVF Revolution" (1999)
  • "Superhuman" (2000)
  • "Human Instinct" (2003)
  • "The Human Mind" (2004). Nominated for Royal Society Aventis Prize
  • "What Makes Me Me" (2005) Royal Society Aventis Prize
  • "Human" (2005) BMA Award for best popular medicine book
  • "The Story of God" (2005) ISBN 0-593-05493-8
  • "Body" (2005)
  • "A Child Against All Odds" (2006)
  • "Play It Again" (2007)
  • "It's Elementary" (2007)
  • "Bad Ideas?" An Arresting History of Our Inventions: How Our Finest Inventions Nearly Finished Us Off (2010)
  • When science meets God, Robert Winston, BBC News, Friday, 2 December 2005.
  • Why do we believe in God?, Robert Winston, The Guardian, Thursday, 13 October 2005

References[edit]

External links[edit]