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Observations BMJ Confidential

John Guillebaud: Passionate, perfectionist, persevering

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 09 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2456


John Guillebaud’s career has centred on the role of voluntary birth control in preserving environmental sustainability. He was medical director of the Margaret Pyke Centre from 1978 to 2002, and in 1992 he took up a personal chair at University College London with the title professor of family planning and reproductive health. He continues to provide three hour presentations to GPs and practice nurses nationwide, he keeps his textbooks updated, and he is a national and international consultant. He has performed more than 5000 vasectomies and is now collaborating on a novel method of male systemic contraception.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be an engine driver. I was influenced by the mighty behemoth of a Garratt steam locomotive that pulled the train between Nairobi and Kampala on a joyful journey at the end of term, when I was off to Rwanda for the holidays.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My biology master, whose teaching inspired me to become the first doctor in our family; and another biologist, my Cambridge tutor Colin Bertram, whose evening lecture on population to the St John’s College Medical Society led me, while still a second year medical student, …

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