Dr Virginia Bolton MA PhD
Consultant embryologist

Dr Virginia Bolton

Virginia Bolton read Zoology at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, following which she moved to Cambridge University and was awarded a PhD for her thesis on the molecular biology of mouse embryogenesis. This was followed by an MRC-funded post-doctoral research position at Cambridge, as part of the first team in the country to be awarded Medical Research Council support for the study of the development of early human embryos. Alongside Peter Braude, she investigated characteristics of human spermatozoa associated with the ability to fertilise eggs, using IVF of donated human oocytes. Their research investigating the development of the resulting human embryos led to the publication in Nature of an article describing the time at which embryonic genes first become active during early human development. Following this post-doctoral appointment, Dr Bolton took the position of Consultant Embryologist at King’s College Hospital, where she ran the laboratories of the first unit in the country to embrace the use of ultrasound techniques in IVF treatment, and with her colleague John Parsons pioneered the provision of cost-price, self-funded IVF treatment in an NHS setting.

After publication of the Warnock Report, she worked with MPs, colleagues and patient groups, and led the successful campaign for UK legislation (the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990), permitting licensed research towards improving the chance of success with IVF treatment. This has led to numerous television and radio appearances, including Newsnight, Tomorrow’s World, Woman’s Hour and many news programmes. Whilst at King’s she undertook the first study in the world looking at pregnancy rates with blastocyst stage human embryos; blastocyst stage transfer has now become an established and successful technique worldwide.

Virginia joined Guy’s in 2004, and oversaw the design and construction of the purpose-built, state of the art ACU laboratories that conform to the highest EU requirements for clean air and tissue transplantation. She is a member of the editorial board of several scientific journals, and of the Executive Committee of the British Fertility Society, is an examiner for the Association of Clinical Embryologists and the Association of Clinical Scientists, and teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate level