Membership of the Galton Institute is open to all who share the Institute’s aims. Life membership costs a one-off payment of £50, with a reduction to £25 for students and the retired. 

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Background of the Galton Institute

Galton’s Quincunx – to illustrate the normal distribution ©UCL Galton Collection

The Galton Institute was established in its current form in 1989 in memory of Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), one of the UK’s most distinguished Victorian scientists and a cousin of Charles Darwin.

The scientific study of human heredity was one of Galton’s many areas of endeavour, and The Galton Institute was set up to promote research and understanding in all aspects of this field.

There have been huge advances in the scientific understanding of heredity and genetics over the last century. Partly informed by these insights there has been a concurrent revolution in social attitudes towards the role of ‘nature’ and environment in human development and achievement. Consequently, the Galton Institute of today reflects the multidisciplinary nature of current research, with geneticists, clinicians, demographers, bioinformaticians, sociologists, psychologists, statisticians, teachers and other professionals working together with the aim of improving knowledge of our species and its challenges.

The Galton Institute is committed to stimulating and informing public debate on human heredity and associated questions, and seeks to promote public engagement with, and communication of, these topics.


The Institute promotes and supports the scientific exploration of all aspects of human heredity through:

  1. Education and communication with all interested individuals and groups.
  2. Stimulating and informing public debate on the social and ethical implications and relevance to human well-being.
  3. The study and understanding of the historical origins and development.


The Institute has a wide range of interdisciplinary interests relating to the scientific study of human inheritance and promotes communication of these investigations through:

  1. An annual conference in which a topic of current and international importance relating to human heredity is explored by experts from different disciplines. The symposium is the occasion for the delivery of the annual Galton Lecture by an eminent invited speaker.
  2. Support for conferences and other activities of kindred organisations relevant to its aims.
  3. Publication of the Galton Institute newsletter, available on the website and received free of charge by Members, Fellows and most UK university libraries.
  4. Publication of occasional booklets on subjects relevant to its aims.
  5. Support work on reproductive health and fertility control in the UK and elsewhere under the aims of the Birth Control Trust.