Last modified on 3 August 2012, at 02:12

Tom Shakespeare


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Full name: Sir Thomas William Shakespeare, 3rd Baronet

Area of interest: Genetics, Sociology: esp. disability issues, bioethics and the Arts

Journals/Organisation: The Guardian


Personal website:






About: WHO profile

Education: Pembroke College, Cambridge; King's College, Cambridge: Master of Philosophy

Career: Co-founded Disability Action North East and the Northern Disability Arts Forum, 1986; Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute: ‘Director of outreach’ (project exploring bioethics and science engagement), 1999/ 2005; Instrumental in the development of the Café Scientifique network both in the UK and internationally; Chair of Arts Council England, North East and National Council Member, 2004/2008; in March 2008 joined the Disability and Rehabilitation Team (DAR) in the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability

Current position/role: occasional comment writer

Other roles/Main role: currently works for the World Health Organization, in Geneva

Other activities: In the Arts, a writer, performer and documentary filmmaker



  1. Tom's research
  2. Is discussion on disability out of date?
  3. Unfair representation

Broadcast media:



Awards/Honours: RADAR UK People of the Year award for furtherance of the human rights of disabled people, 2003; National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) development Fellowship



Books & Debate:

Latest work: Disability rights and wrongs OCLC 64098553 , 2006

Speaking/Appearances: Regularly deployed by the British Council as a visiting speaker in different countries


The Guardian:

Column name:

Remit/Info: Genetics, Sociology: esp. disability issues, bioethics and the Arts

Section: no regular column, / comment is free contributions

Role: Commentator




Commissioning editor:

Day published: varies

Regularity: infrequent

Column format:

Average length:


  • The cruel toll of disability hate crime - The death of David Askew is a harsh reminder that the most vulnerable in our society face daily abuse and humiliation - 12th March 2010
  • The stuff of life - The artificial creation of, frankly, a rather dull chromosome, will not solve climate change or spark bioterrorism. Don't get so excited - Saturday, 26th January 2008
  • The virtues of doubt - It is discouraging, even alarming, to find people as confident in their own correctness as our modern secularists and humanists - Friday, 5th October 2007
  • Parliamentary wisdom - This week's report on the draft human embryos and tissues bill was so sensible I no longer believe we need a national bioethics committee - Saturday, 4th August 2007
  • On fertile ground - Embryo research is a contentious issue, but the HFEA has generally steered the right course between permissiveness and control - Friday, 6th July 2007
  • Selective criticism - It's a proposal that will no doubt provoke outrage, but using embryo selection to reduce the impact of cancer seems sensible to me - Thursday, 26th April 2007
  • Still seeking the elixir of life? Just don't expect it at the doctor's - Vitamin D for cancer, green tea for leaukaemia. Sadly there are no quick fixes for our health - The Independent on Sunday, 1st January 2006
  • Genetics and the disabled - From a speech given by the Director of Outreach at Newcastle University to the BA Festival of Science - The Independent, Friday, 12th September 2003

News & updates: