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Lord Professor Winston Visits JAGS

On Thursday 12 May the RS and Science departments at JAGS were incredibly lucky to receive talks from Lord Robert Winston. Professor Winston started his afternoon at JAGS leading a Sixth Form RS lesson and then gave an enlightening and entertaining talk to Science students both from JAGS and some of the other schools in the Southwark Schools Learning Partnership.


“As both a leading embryologist and Orthodox Jew he delivered an impactful, interesting, and strikingly relevant talk about the compatibility of embryology and the Jewish principle of Pikuach Nefesh (the sanctity of life). It is safe to say that the talk satisfied my ‘theological itch’ as he spoke of the dangers of seeing religion and science as polarizing forces and the importance of being able to reconsider religious (specifically Jewish) principles. Shockingly, but strikingly important was Winston’s underlying message that certainty, be that religious or scientific, can be dangerous and without a willingness to listen to other views and develop opinions from there onwards nothing can progress. It is safe to say that without this attitude, Lord Robert Winston would not have been able to combine his faith with such important developments in embryology.

The talk was insightful, powerful, and enjoyable and I know it has affected how I view my own theological studies for good!” Abi Year 12

“Lord Robert Winston is Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College, helping to educate the next generation of researchers. He has over 300 scientific publications about human reproduction and the early stages of pregnancy and now runs a research programme at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology. He is also Chairman of the Genesis Research Trust – a charity which funds high quality research into women’s health and babies. Through his amazing research and work as a doctor, he has helped thousands of people struggling with fertility to be able to have a baby. His team also helped develop pre-implementation diagnosis, an amazing technique that allows embryos to be screened for genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, which he very modestly shared with us!

Lord Robert shared stories with us about his first experience with IVF: fertilising sea urchins on a school biology trip! He then talked about his journey into medicine and research, providing us with invaluable advice on university applications and extra insight into how to be a good doctor. He also recalled various experiences working in labs with many different amazing scientists and all the fun he has had researching.
He told us about his work as an actor and director, a highlight of which was winning the National Director’s Award at the Edinburgh Festival, with what sounded like an intriguing play I would have loved to have watched! He has certainly been able to implement this creativity into his career, helping him to think outside the box in research, and helping him to present and produce numerous television programmes, including ‘Superhuman’, ‘The Secret Life of Twins’, ‘Child of Our Time’ and the BAFTA Award winning ‘The Human Body’, which have helped to educate, inform and inspire people all over the world. He further spreads his knowledge through regularly speaking to the House of Lords, about science, education, medical ethics and the arts, helping him to spread a positive influence in our society and demonstrating his passion and commitment to his work.” Georgia Year 12

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