Lisa Jardine: Historian chosen to head fertility watchdog (UK)

Historians in the News

A leading historian of science is to become the new head of the Government’s fertility watchdog.

Lisa Jardine, Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, will take over as the chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on April 1, the Government’s Appointments Commission announced yesterday. Professor Jardine, whose specialist fields of study include the history of the scientific revolution, succeeds Shirley Harrison, who stepped down in November after less than a year in the job.

Ms Harrison had originally been appointed to chair both the HFEA and the Human Tissue Authority before their planned merger, but resigned from the former post after ministers dropped the legislation that would have combined the regulators. The proposal had alarmed doctors, scientists and patient groups, who said the new body would have had insufficient expertise, placing patient safety at risk.

Professor Jardine’s appointment will end a period of uncertainty for the HFEA, which has been operating recently with an acting chairman and chief executive. Angela McNab, the chief executive, was seconded to the Department of Health’s public health team in October. She had been criticised by doctors and MPs for her handling of complaints against Mohammed Taranissi, a leading fertility specialist.

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