I am very sensible of the honour accorded to me today by the Oliver Bird Trustees in inviting me to give this, the 10th Annual Oliver Bird Lecture. I am particularly glad that you, Professor Parkes, should be my chairman on this occasion, just 20 years after you accorded me the privilege of becoming a member of your staff at the National Institute for Medical Research. I was then very much an amateur in the field of reproductive physiology and, looking back, I have the impression that most of my colleagues were also amateurs, in the best possible sense. The days of the rat-race, of fierce competition and of, one might almost say, brittle professionalism, had not yet begun. Our interests were then more closely concerned with the promotion of fertility than with its control in the negative sense, and we had not yet become alarmed about the
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