Professor Winston developed and refined gynaecological surgical techniques to improve fertility treatments in the early 1970s. Later he pioneered many treatments to improve in vitro fertilisation, and subsequently developed pre-implantation diagnosis which allows the diagnosis of fatal genetic disorders in embryos. This work enabled many families to have a child free of fatal illnesses, including those with sex‐linked disorders, single gene defects such as cystic fibrosis and chromosomal abnormalities. Chromosomal abnormality is an important cause of miscarriage so this work has had a wide impact.
Professor Winston is a Faraday Medal holder from the Royal Society and has had many other prizes for his work. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Education and the Institute of Biology. He has received seventeen honorary doctorates from universities across the world in recognition of his work. He was President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 2005 and is currently a member of Council and Chairman of the Societal Issues Panel at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University. In Parliament, he used his extensive scientific expertise for work on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and was voted “Peer of the Year” in 2008 by his fellow parliamentarians.
He has gained the respect of the public by his efforts to communicate the “excitement of science”, which he does through his award winning BBC programmes and numerous books. His innovative teaching programmes for schoolchildren at Imperial College are gaining wide recognition. One of his children’s books “What makes me, me” is translated into over 35 languages, and his latest book for adults “Bad Ideas” is about the ways scientific discoveries are made. He has published over 300 research papers in scientific journals. Robert is also Chairman of the Royal College of Music and a member of the Council of Surrey University. He has three children, one of whom is a scientist.