About

A scientist by training and an enthusiast to her bones, Vivienne is a writer and broadcaster with an exceptionally wide range.

Her voice is a familiar one to Radio 4 listeners.  She writes and presents many medical science and technology programmes for the station, including eight series of the multi award winning series ‘Am I normal?’  four series of ‘Inside the Ethics Committee’ and most recently, a five part series on the science behind the animals of the Just So stories ‘Just So Science’.   She makes frequent guest appearances on television, including Question Time.

She is a prolific writer and contributes to the Times, Guardian, Mail on Sunday and an eclectic range of other papers and magazines on science and medicine. Her most recent book ‘The Truth about Hormones’ was shortlisted for the 2006 Aventis Science Prize.  It was recently re-issued in paperback (click here) and has been translated into 10 different language editions.  Her range is reflected in the fact that unusually, she has won both Freelance Journalist of the Year and Broadcast Journalist of the Year awards.

She works extensively across government, particularly with the Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health but also with the Government Office of Science Foresight projects and with BIS

She has a particular interest in promoting organ donation and was a member of the Organ Donor Taskforce, working not only on the original 2008 report but on the subsequent reports on presumed consent and on organs for non UK residents.

She is currently a member of the DH review group considering cosmetic interventions and a member of the NHS Commissioning Board genomics group.

She is passionate about people and communicating science.  Her commitment has been recognised by the award of the OBE in the New Years Honours List 2011 for ‘services to the public understanding of science’.  She  is especially proud of her ‘Cruciblistes’, the many early career scientists whom she has helped with communication skills and policy work for the Crucible programmes (Scottish, Welsh and Heriot-Watt).

She undertakes a great deal of hosting, facilitation, scripting and film work with science and innovation organisations (including the Royal Society, NESTA, the Technology Strategy Board and most of the research councils), with government, with industry (including Unilever and AstraZeneca) and with European bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority.  She was also the media facilitator for the G8’s 2006 pandemic flu exercise.  She continues to present films such and has just completed a 60 minute documentary in association with Cancer Research UK on the history of cancer over the last 50 years.  Details on right.

She majored in immunology and genetics at UCL and is today Vice Chairman of Council of this university, which is  ranked 4th in the world.  She also sits on the council of the MRC, was a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation, sat on the Duff Enquiry investigating TGN 1412 and subsequently on the Clinical Trials Expert Advisory Group of the MHRA.  She is on the board of the Science Media Centre and the Cheltenham Science Festival.

In the past, she has presented Tomorrow’s World (bringing in particular the image of a mouse, with a human ear attached, to a startled world), reported for Panorama, been the columnist of the News of the World, worked with the Princess of Wales for 12 years and been the agony aunt of Good Housekeeping.

She is a part time domestic goddess with a penchant for baking, has an award winning garden which she has previously opened once a year under the National Garden’s Yellow book scheme and lives in London and Oxfordshire with her husband, the social entrepreneur and musician Tim Joss.