RESEARCH GROUP MEMBERS
- Mrs Celine Jones (Laboratory Manager)
- Dr Sally Galal (DPhil Student, 3rd year)
- Miss Rajwa Mecca (DPhil Student, 1st year)
- Miss Montserrat Vallet Buisan (DPhil Student, 1st year)
- Miss Julia Cabrera Lozano (MSc Student)
- Miss Amy Ellis (MSc Student)
- Miss Hannah Fleming (MSc Student)
- Miss Francesa Ollis (MSc Student)
- Miss Beril Tuncer (MSc Student)
- Miss Octavia Bathurst (Biology Student)
MSc COURSE STAFF
- Mrs Celine Jones (Laboratory Manager)
- Dr Bec Dragovic (Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow)
- Mrs Laura Rose (Administrator)
Number of DPhil students supervised to completion: 16
Number of MSc students supervised in laboratory: 51
Number of undergraduate medical/biochemistry/biology and ERASMUS students supervised in the laboratory: 24
Number of schools/outreach students supervised in laboratory: 6
Total number of students supervised to completion on the MSc in Clinical Embryology: 224
Coward Group May 2023
- Oxford Fertility
- Professor Manu Vatish (NDWRH, Oxford)
- Professor Tim Child (Oxford Fertility)
- Professor Helen Townley (NDWRH, Oxford)
- Professor Chris Barratt (Dundee, UK)
- Dr Sarah Martins Da Silva (Dundee, UK)
- Dr Sheila Lane (OUH NHS Trust, Oxford)
- Professor Anne Goriely (RDM, Oxford)
- Professor Rod Mitchell (Edinburgh, UK)
- Dr Mike Rimmer (Edinburgh, UK)
PRIZES AND AWARDS
2019 - Masters Teacher of the Year. Awarded to Kevin Coward by FindAMasters and FindAPhD (National/International Award). For life-long impact on students and innovation in teaching.
2018 - Bronze Employer Award. Awarded to Kevin Coward and Celine Jones for excellent engagement with local school children interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Awarded by Science Oxford and the Careers and Enterprise Company.
2018 - OxTALENT Award (Teaching & Learning Enhanced with New Technology). Awarded to Celine Jones, Laura Rose, Rebecca Dragovic and Kevin Coward for the development of integrated online tools to develop deeper learning styles and provide interactive feedback routes.
2017 - Bronze Employer Award. Awarded to Kevin Coward and Celine Jones for excellent engagement with local school children interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Awarded by Science Oxford and the Careers and Enterprise Company.
2016 - Finalist - Royal Society of Biology Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award (Kevin Coward). For an outstanding national contribution to higher education in the biosciences.
2015 - Titular Commendation - University Teaching Excellence Award Scheme. Awarded to Kevin Coward for his continued excellence in teaching for the Medical Science Division.
2015 - Nanoscience Research Leadership Award. Awarded to Kevin Coward and Team by the Cognizure Publication Group based upon publication record in the field.
2014 - University Teaching Excellence Award. For innovative use of information technology in teaching and learning. Awarded to Kevin Coward, Celine Jones and Natalia Barkalina.
2014 - OxTALENT Award (Teaching & Learning Enhanced with New Technology). Awarded to Kevin Coward, Celine Jones, and Natalia Barkalina for the design of an interactive video-enhanced poster using whiteboard technology.
2013 - University Teaching Excellence Award. For innovative use of information technology in teaching and learning. Awarded to Kevin Coward and Celine Jones.
2013 - OxTALENT Award (Teaching & Learning Enhanced with New Technology). Awarded to Kevin Coward and Celine Jones for innovative use of interactive whiteboard technology in the classroom.
2012 - University of Oxford Major Educator Teaching Excellence Award. Team award, led by Kevin Coward, for an outstanding contribution to postgraduate education in the Medical Sciences Division.
2005 - British Andrology Society Prize. Jointly awarded to Kevin Coward for work describing the use of in vivo gene transfer procedures for studying spermatogenesis. Joint Conference of the UK Fertility Societies, Fertility 2005, University of Warwick, U.K.
RESEARCH GROUP AWARDS/PRIZES
2019. Henry Lester Trust Research Grant. Dr Yaqiong Liu
2019. Sir Alec Turnbull Travelling Scholarship. Dr Shiyan Tang
2019. Gustav Born Scholarship. St Peters College, Oxford. Miss Teresa Vilanova Perez
2019. Gold CREST Award. CREST is a nationally recognised scheme for school student-led project work in the STEM subjects. Miss Justice Vivdych-Gapaka won the Gold Award for a written project on human infertility which she carried out while carrying out work experience in our laboratory.
2019 - Winner, SRF PhD Student Prize. Fertility 2019, Birmingham. Miss Teresa Vilanova Perez.
2015 - Winner, Society for Reproduction and Fertility (SRF) Stewart Rhind Science Writing Prize. Miss Ho-Yi Tang (Clinical Medical Student) for an essay discussing new techniques for mitochondrial transfer.
2011 - Winner, Society for Reproduction and Fertility (SRF) Prize Essay. Miss Claire Durrans (Biochemistry Project Student) for an essay describing the Nobel Prize winning work of Professor Sir Robert Edwards.
2009. Best Oral Scientific Presentation. Fertility 2011, Dublin. Mr Junaid Kashir.
2009 - Best Oral Presentation. International Network of Young Researchers in Male Fertility, Munster, Germany. Mr Junaid Kashir.
BSC (Hons) PhD (Stirllng) PGDipLATHE (Oxon) SFHEA FRSB CBiol CSciTeach
Associate Professor and Director of the MSc in Clinical Embryology
- Lead for Testicular Cryopreservation Research
- Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
- Senior Tutor (Divisional Skills Training Programme)
I graduated from the University of Stirling (Scotland) with a Bachelors degree in Biological Science and a PhD in Reproductive Physiology and Endocrinology. Since leaving Scotland in 1994, my research has predominantly involved pharmacological, physiological and molecular aspects of both male and female reproduction utilising a variety of biochemical and molecular approaches. I have held post-doctoral positions at Brunel University, Queen Mary University London, Imperial College London, and University College London. In 2002, I moved to the Department of Pharmacology in Oxford, and in 2008 joined the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health (NDWRH) as Director of the MSc in Clinical Embryology. I have acted as Senior Editor for four academic book volumes. I have served on numerous university committees, including Divisional Graduate Studies Committee and Divisional Audit Sub-Committee. I currently serve on the NDWRH Executive Team, NDWRH Education Working Group, and the Medical Science Division Skills Training Committee. I am also an Associate Editor for the international journal Frontiers in Reproductive Health (Assisted Reproduction) and an Editor for Biomedicines.
I have a keen interest in the pedagogy of teaching and student learning. I hold a Postgraduate Diploma (Distinction) in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (PGDipLATHE) from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. I gained Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2011 and was promoted to Senior Fellowship in 2016. I also hold Chartered Science Teacher Status with the Royal Society of Biology. I deliver lecture, seminar, tutorial and laboratory teaching for MSc students, clinical medical students, and pre-clinical medical students.
Historically, my research has involved the molecular mechanisms of oocyte activation at fertilisation, with special emphasis on how such mechanisms may impart effect upon male fertility. Activation of the egg at fertilization is a fundamental developmental event and in mammals is associated with a rise in intracellular egg calcium that manifests as a series of characteristic oscillations. Current research strongly suggests that the protein responsible is a sperm-specific phospholipase C with distinctive properties, PLCζ.
My team investigates how PLCζ, and other sperm proteins interacting with the oocyte at fertilisation, might be related to certain types of male infertility including oocyte activation deficiency, total fertilisation failure, or recurrent ICSI failure. Current emphasis includes the potential role of oocyte proteins which interact with PLCζ and other sperm proteins in order to induce activation. Other projects are developing nanoparticle- or exosome-mediated systems to deliver engineered protein constructs, or other molecular agents, into mammalian gametes or embryos. Such methods could provide a useful tool for studying the role of sperm-specific proteins during fertilisation and early embryogenesis, and may provide an effective means of delivering targeted clinical agents.
My team also collaborates with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on a project which aims to help young people at risk of developing infertility, for example those undergoing aggressive radio/chemotherapy for childhood cancers. My team provides specific research support/initiative for a clinical programme which aims to cryopreserve testicular tissue from young boys prior to aggressive clinical treatments which may influence sperm production.
STRATEGIC RESEARCH AREAS
- Male infertility, fertilisation, oocyte activation, and PLCzeta
- Fertility preservation strategies for prepubertal boys with cancer
- Nanoparticle- and exosome-mediated delivery systems for gametes and embryos
SOURCES OF GROUP FUNDING
Our research has been funded by a variety of internal sources (Medical Research Fund, EPA Cephalosporin Fund) and external sources (The Royal Society, Wingate Trust, Wellcome Trust, EPSRC Pathways to Impact Scheme, The Higher Education Academy, European Commission, The Rosetrees Trust, The Daphne Jackson Trust, The British Andrology Society).
Our DPhil students have been very successful in securing competitive funding from a number of internal scholarship schemes (Clarendon, Graduate School, Cyril and Phyllis Long) and external scholarship schemes (Ministry of Higher Education - Malaysia, Chancellor's Scholarship - Universiti of Brunei; Chinese Government Scholarships; Bright Sparks Foundation; Saint Glee Foundation).
OUR OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
Our group is increasingly becoming involved in outreach activities with school children interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We have hosted several work experience students in our laboratory. Dr Coward regularly attends secondary schools (e.g. Burnham Grammar School in Berkshire, see photos below) to talk to sixth formers about studying medicine at Oxford and to discuss the application process. We have won awards for this aspect of our work. Some of our school placement students have also won awards for the work they carried out during their placement with us. I also act as an external tutor for the Waynflete Studies Programme at Magdalen College, Oxford.
(2023), Human Reproduction Update
Vallet-Buisan M. et al, (2023), Hum Reprod Update
Royer C. et al, (2022), Nature Communications, 13
Jones C. et al, (2022), Reproduction, 164, F53 - F66
The current practice of assisted hatching for embryos in fertility centres: a general survey
COWARD K. et al, (2022), Reproductive Sciences
Images courtesy of group members, Medical Science Division, Cambridge University Press, OxTALENT, Matt Lodge Photography and FindAMasters/FindAPhD.
OPPORTUNITIES TO WORK WITH US
Speculative enquiries from those interested in working or studying with us (e.g., potential DPhil, MSc by Research, or ERASMUS students) are welcome at any time. Please contact Dr Coward by email in the first instance.