EGA Institute for Women's Health


Interdisciplinary Centre for Reproductive and Experimental Cryobiology (ICREC)

The ICREC was founded by Paul Hardiman, Director of the Royal Free Hospital Ovarian Cryopreservation Service, Barry Fuller a leading expert in cryobiology at University College London and Roland Fleck (Director of the Centre for Ultrastructural Imaging at Kings College London) to explore the fundamental processes occurring as ovarian tissue is cryopreserved, thawed and transplanted and apply this knowledge to improve the efficiency of this procedure when used to preserve fertility in female patients who are scheduled to receive chemotherapy or radiotherapy which may cause significant gonadal damage.

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman, Associate Professor, Institute for Women’s Health, UCL, leads the Reproductive Medicine clinic at the Royal Free Hospital and is a Consultant in the Fertility clinic at the Whittington Hospital. In collaboration with Barry Fuller and Mark Lowdell, Professor of Cell and Tissue Therapy at UCL and director of the Centre for Cell, Gene and tissue Therapeutics laboratory at the Royal Free hospital, Paul has been researching ovarian tissue freezing since 2010. He established the clinical ovarian cryopreservation service at the Royal Free Hospital which opened in February 2019, receiving referrals from NHS clinicians in England and Wales.







Barry Fuller
Barry Fuller is Professor of Surgical Sciences in the Division of Surgery & Interventional Science, at the Royal Free Hospital and is the past President of the International Society for Cryobiology, and a lead professor in a global virtual network, under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair in Cryobiology with the remit to share knowledge and assist groups in restructuring countries that are setting up their own infrastructure for tissue banking or organ procurement for transplantation. One of his primary research aims is to show how low temperatures can be used in the clinic to maximise the quality of both transplant organs and tissues, and also to control biological change. His research is focussed on:
  • low temperature preservation of cells
  • tissues and organs for clinical applications
  • effects of ischaemia / reperfusion injury in surgery
  • organ-specific metabolic effects of chemotherapy
  • surgery and transplantation.


Roland Fleck
Roland Fleck joined King’s College London in 2013 from the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), where he was head of Biological Imaging and Assay Development. At NIBSC Roland developed advanced imaging techniques for the control and standardisation of biological medicines. He also developed differentiation protocols for human embryonic stem cell lines to allow them to be used as substrates in functional biological assays. Roland has extensive experience and knowledge of low temperature biology and cryopreservation having investigated how cells and tissues both avoid and are damaged by chilling and freezing events. Electron microscopy at CUI provides:
  • 3D ultrastructural context of ovarian  tissue
  • a direct measure of intracellular ice presence and location
  • the degree of dehydration of cells within tissues.


Differential Scanning Calorimetry can be used to explore extracellular and intracellular glass transition events occurring between the homo or heterogeneous freezing point and target storage temperature.

Our mission is to utilise the advances in cryobiology which have been made since the proctocols developed more than 20 years ago to understand the cellular and subcellular effects of slow freezing and vitrifying gonadal tissue. This understanding can be rapidly translated to clinical practice to improve the efficacy of the ovarian and testicular tissue when used to for fertility preservation.