Professor R. J. (Robert James) Berry was born on 26 October 1934 to Albert Edward James and Nellie (née Hodgson) Berry. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Caius College, Cambridge where he progressed to M.A. He earned his Ph.D. and his Doctorate of Science from University College London in 1976. From 1978 until his retirement in 2000, he served as Lecturer, Reader and finally Professor in Genetics at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine.