Embryology, IVF and Reproductive Genetics
Our research focuses on factors affecting fertility treatment and genetics; from preconception carrier screening to egg and sperm donation. We are especially interested in new technology being developed in these areas. As well as laboratory aspects, we are exploring social, ethical and religious views towards current and new technology being used in fertility treatment.
The main themes of our research are:
New technology in fertility treatment
After publication of our ground-breaking paper ‘When and how should new technology be brought into the IVF lab’ we are examining how clinics use new technology.
Preconception carrier screening
We are examining preconception carrier screening which is increasingly being offered to women and couples before they try to conceive. Some of these tests are offered directly to the patient with no involvement of a health care professional (direct to consumer genetic testing).
After publication of our paper on ancestry testing and donor conception, we are investigating the awareness of donors and patients who use donor conception. We are also investigating unregulated sperm donation via introduction websites.
Germline genome editing
We are using CRISPR Cas 9 to examine various aspects of infertility.
Joyce Harper is part of the Nuffield Council for Bioethics working group on Genome Editing.
Joyce Harper was part of the ESHRE culture media working group who have published a paper titled ‘Time to take human embryo culture seriously’. The team are collaborating with Daniel Brison at the University of Manchester looking at the use of culture media in UK clinics.
After publication of a review on egg freezing in Human Reproduction Update, we are studying egg freezing in collaboration with De Montford University.
Religious views to fertility treatment
We are looking at Jewish and Islamic views to infertility treatment, especially in relation to new technology. Various people from both communities are being interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire and focus groups.
Factors affecting sperm viability
We are investigating the effects of e-cigarettes on sperm survival. We are also investigating the vitrification of sperm.
As part of a project run through the British Fertility Society but involving many partners, we are developing tools to provide fertility and pregnancy awareness to schools, teachers, teenagers and parents.