John Aitken’s research career began with a PhD in reproductive biology from the University of Cambridge under the supervision of RV Short. Following post-doctoral positions at the Institute of Animal Genetics, University of Edinburgh and the University of Bordeaux, he accepted an invitation to join the World Health Organization in Geneva, where he managed two WHO task forces within the Human Reproduction Unit dealing with different aspects of contraception. In 1977, he joined the Medical Research Council’s Reproductive Biology Unit, University of Edinburgh, to establish a research group in gamete biology with clinical outreach into male infertility. In 1992, John was awarded an Honorary Professorship within the Faculty of Medicine of Edinburgh University and 1998 he received an ScD degree from the University of Cambridge in recognition of his research contributions to gamete biology. In the same year he moved to the University of Newcastle, NSW, as Chair of Biological Sciences and, later, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development. He is currently Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Health and Medicine, Laureate Professor of Biological Sciences, and Co-Director of the Priority Research Centre in Reproductive Science. He has published over 580 research articles and book chapters, which have received over 35,000 citations generating a career h-index of 100. John is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Australian Academy of Science. In 2012 he was named as the New South Wales Scientist-of-the-Year.