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Prof Joyce Harper
UCL Centre for PGD, IWH
UCL, 86-96 Chenies Mews
  • Professor of Human Genetics and Embryology
  • Reproductive Health
  • UCL EGA Institute for Women's Health
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

I read Biochemistry at Queen Elizabeth College from 1981-1984 and obtained a 2/1.  I joined the pharmacology department at Kings College London where I studied a PhD under the supervision of Professor John Littleton looking at the effects of alcohol on catecholamine release from adrenal chromafin cells.  I started working in IVF in 1987, initially spending a few months at the Hallam Medical Centre and then moving onto work with Professor Ian Craft at the London Fertility Centre.  I designed new IVF labs at Cozens House, 112A Harley Street and in Dubai.

In 1992 I joined the PGD team at the Hammersmith Hospital performing clinical biopsies and FISH diagnosis as well as undertaking research into chromosome abnormalities of human embryos.  In 1993 I started a joint project with the Hammersmith Hospital and University College London.  In 1997 I designed (with Professor Joy Delhanty and Professor Charles Rodeck) the first of my MSc programmes at UCL that I direct (Prenatal Genetics and Fetal Medicine) and in 2002 I developed a second MSc programme (Reproductive Science and Womens’ Health). 

My current roles include being a Reader in Human Genetics and Embryology at UCL, Principal Investigator for Reproductive Genetics as part of UCL Centre for PGD (www.ucl.ac.uk/PGD), deputy director of UCL Centre for PGD, Head of Research and Development at the Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health, Education Lead for the Institute for Women’s Health, Chair of UCLs Education Domain, Faculty Graduate Tutor and Institute Graduate Tutor.  I have had many senior roles in ESHRE, including helping establish the ESHRE PGD Consortium.  I also has several roles in the HFEA and am currently on the Board of the British Fertility Society. For further information see www.joyceharper.com.  In 2014 I set up a company providing global hands on training in clinical PGD and Embryology (Embryology and PGD Academy).


Research Summary

Principal investigator of UCL Centre for PG & D and person responsible for the HFEA Research Licence and head of research and development at the Assisted Conception Unit, UCLH. UCL Centre for PG & D covers a range of research interests in preimplantation genetics, ranging from DNA damage and aneuploidy in sperm to methylation patterns in human embryos. At the London Fertility Centre I was working on ways to help identify the best embryo for transfer. When I initially started work on PGD (Wellcome grant) I used FISH to examine chromosome arrangements in human embryos and was the first to report the high levels of mosaicism that have now been observed by many other groups internationally. I have also been trying to elucidate the mechanism of these abnormalities, which includes abnormalities in cell cycle checkpoints. This work has been sponsored by an MRC JREI Equipment Grant, Tommy's Campaign and UCL Special Trustees. Our Wellbeing grant was used to apply these techniques to study human oocytes. I am principal investigator of UCL Centre for PG & D and person responsible for the HFEA Research Licence. I am head of research and development at the Assisted Conception Unit, UCLH. See publication list (link to this page). Main topics: * Mechanism of mosaicism in preimplantation embryos * Whole genome amplification and microarray methods to use on single human embryonic cells * DNA fragmentation and aneuploidy in sperm * Methylation patterns of preimplantation embryos * Metabolomics of the human embryo and relation to aneuploidy * All aspects of infertility related research

Teaching Summary

I am Chair of the SLMS Education Domain, Faculty Graduate Tutor, Departmental Graduate Tutor, Education Lead for the Institute for Women's Health, Director of two MSc programmes.  I have a passion for education and improving education excellence throughout UCL.  I am on several UCL committees.  The SLMS Education Domain have written several strategies to promote education including an e-learning strategy, assessment and feedback strategy and the life course of a student strategy taking into account outreach, alumni and careers.  In 2014 I became director of a company providing global hands on training in clinical embryology and PGD - The Embryology and PGD Academy.  see http://www.embryologyandPGDacademy.com.

Academic Background
1988 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Pharmacology King's College London
1984 BSc Bachelor of Science – Biochemistry University of London
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