Robert Winston

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Robert Winston, Lord Winston, is a British medical doctor, scientist, and television presenter.Robert Winston is Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London. He runs a research programme at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial College that aims to improve human transplantation. [1]

House of Lords

Winston was made a peer in 1995 and is an active member of the House of Lords, and speaks regularly on education, science, medicine and the arts. As Chairman of the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology (1998-2001), Lord Winston initiated enquiries into Antibiotic Resistance, Non-Food Crops, Nuclear Waste, Science and Society, Genetic Databases, and Science in Schools. [2]

==Membership of Select Committee enquiries== [2]

  • 1996-7: Innovation/Exploitation Barrier
  • 1997: Non-Food Crops
  • 1997–8: Clinical Academic Careers
  • 1997-8: Nuclear Waste
  • 1999-2000: Antibiotic Resistance
  • 1999–2000: Science and Society
  • 2000–1: Therapeutic uses of Cannabis
  • 2000: Aircraft Passenger Environment
  • 1999-2000: Human Genetic Databases
  • 1999-2000: Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • 2001: Science in Schools (Chairman)
  • 2003-04: Science and the RDAs
  • 2003-04: Renewable Energy Sources
  • 2004-05: Energy Efficiency
  • 2008: Select Committee on Science &Technology
  • 2008-09: Enquiry into genomics
  • 2007-08: Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee - Bill on Reproductive Technologies, Public engagement with science

In a parliamentary debate on Science and Politics in the House of Lords on 9 December 2003, Lord Winston, who was one of the 113 scientists who signed a Sense About Science letter to Prime Minister Blair calling for more support from the government for GM crops, said he had some regrets about signing the letter:

"We must also avoid exaggeration and over-confidence. Ministers want that, and we are too ready to ascribe to it, because funds may chase that exaggeration, but we should be very wary. With all due respect to my friend the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, in some ways I regret signing the letter about genetically modified foods because, as scientists, we showed a degree of arrogance and a failure to recognise that we need to indulge in much greater dialogue." [3] Winston also used a speech he made to a British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Dublin in 2005 to criticize scientific colleagues for “overhyping the potential clinical benefits of embryonic stem cell research”. The Guardian reported that the speech would discuss embryonic stem cell research as “a case study in scientific arrogance and the dangers of 'spinning' a good story.” [4] He warned of a backlash both politically, and from the public, in the next few years if the potential benefits are over-sold and spoke of the effects of lobbying on politicians beliefs of the advancement of the research.

Commercialisation of science

Professor Winston has publicly expressed concern about the increasing role of industry in academic scientific research. As president of the British Association for Advancement of Science (BA), Winston “warned the growing commercialisation of science was threatening its independence and traditional raison d'etre as existing for public benefit.” [5]

He spoke of striking a balance between commerciality and public interest and the scope for conflicts of interest when science and industry are linked:

"Once the pursuit of science becomes heavily geared to profit, scientists may be compromised. They may be perceived as having vested interests and not working merely for the public good. Scientists need to be more aware of the dangers and academic disadvantages of commercial interests, and recognise that conflicts of interest may occur. Of course, we should not abandon commercial pursuits but we must be cautious where necessary and we need to be prepared to declare our commercial interests openly and freely.” [5]

In the same speech he spoke of the “dumbing down” of some research, which is not funded due to not providing opportunities for financial gain. [5]

Genetically modified animals for human transplantation

Professor Winston and colleagues at Imperial College set up the company Azatoa to breed pigs for genetic modification. The animals would be genetically modified so that their hearts and lungs could be transplanted into humans without being rejected by the immune system. The research was moved to the USA in 2007 after an initial 13 month delay in obtaining a licence from the Home Office to inject pigs in the laboratory was followed by DEFRA then said the pigs could not be returned to agricultural land to breed. Professor Winston said at the time that the regulatory framework in the UK makes it very difficult to get research of this nature started. [6] Calls to have an opt-out organ donation scheme where donation was presumed unless otherwise stated were not supported by Professor Winston who said "It's a foolish approach because it doesn't understand the nature of grief and that it takes time for relatives to come to terms with the death of a loved one." [6]

Science Media Centre

Winston was a member of the scientific advisory board of the SMC between 2002-12. He is also a trustee of the Royal Institution. Winston is linked to the following funders of the SMC: EPSRC, Imperial College, Queen Mary University of London and the Royal Academy of Engineering.



  • 2007-: Professor of Science and Society, Imperial College London
  • 2005-2007: Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies, Imperial College, London
  • 1982-2005: Professor of Fertility Studies Imperial College, and Director of Reproductive Medicine
  • 1998-2001: Director of NHS R&D Hammersmith Hospitals Trust
  • 1982-87: Dean, Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, London
  • 1979-82: Reader in Fertility Studies, Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, London

Other appointments

[2] 1999-2002: Board member and Vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology Member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This is a remunerated position.

Business interests

Director of Atazoa Ltd, a biotechnology company established at Imperial to evaluate novel methods for making transgenic animals.

Kayplot Ltd was set up by Winston in 1999 to manage his broadcast and journalism work. The company has two directors, Winston and his wife and he is the sole shareholder. [8] Kayplot was the subject of an article in the Daily Mail questioning Winston’s Labour values as channelling his media earnings through the company reduces his earning threshold, therefore paying corporation tax rather than the higher income tax rate. In 2010-11 the company profits were £498,000. [9]

Affiliations, awards and publications





  • 1973-77: Wellcome Senior Research Fellowship
  • 1977: Blair-Bell Lectureship RCOG
  • 1978: Best film award, American Fertility Society for Microsurgery of the Fallopian Tube
  • 1992: Cedric Carter Medal
  • 1993: Victor Bonney Triennial Medal for contributions to surgery, Royal College of Surgeons of London
  • 1998: Gold Medallist, Royal Society of Health
  • 1999: Faraday Medal holder
  • 2003: Edwin Stevens Medal, The Royal Society of Medicine
  • 2004: Gold medallist, North of England Zoological Society
  • 2005: Al Hammadi Gold Medal, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • 2008: “Peer of the Year” in the House of Lords for his work on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill


[10] Professor Winston has published many books and over 300 articles in the field of human reproductivity.

  • Infertility - a sympathetic approach (1985)
  • Getting Pregnant (1989)
  • Making Babies (1996)
  • The Story of God (2005)


  1. The Biography of Lord Professor Winston Robert Winston, accessed 9 September 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Lord Winston UK Parliament, accessed 9 September 2013
  3. House of Lords debate: Science and Politics GM WATCH, accessed 9 September 2013
  4. Lord Winston accuses scientists of stem cell ‘hype’ Bionews, 8 September 2005, accessed 6 September 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Brian Skelly Economic growth may compromise science Silicon Republic, 5 September 2005, accessed 9 September 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ian Sample Red tape blocks UK research on replacement organs The Guardian, 10 September 2007, accessed 9 September 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Robert Winston CV Royal Institute of Great Britain, accessed 11 September 2013
  8. Kayplot Ltd Company Check, accessed 21 September 2013
  9. Andrew Pierce Winston and the Labour tax avoiders Daily Mail, 15 April 2012, accessed 21 September 2013
  10. Books Robert Winston, accessed 4 September 2013