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Prof Joyce Harper
Institute for Women's Health
UCL, 86-96 Chenies Mews
Prof Joyce Harper profile picture
  • Professor of Reproductive Science
  • Reproductive Health
  • UCL EGA Institute for Womens 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 1996 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 Professor of Reproductive Science, Head of the Department of Reproductive Health, Director of Education for the Institute for Women's Health, Chair of the Centre for Human Reproduction, founder of Global Women Connected and Director of the Embryology and PGD Academy.  I have had many senior roles in ESHRE, including co-founder of the ESHRE PGD Consortium.  I also has several roles in the HFEA including chair of the Horizon Scanning Group. For further information see www.joyceharper.com.  


Research Themes
Research Summary

After my PhD I worked as a clinical embryologist for 5 years and researched into various topics of IVF, including lab and patient aspects.  In 1992 I joined the preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) team at the Hammersmith Hospital, working with Alan Handyside and Robert Winston, and joined UCL PGD team in 1994. Over this time my research interests were in preimplantation genetics, ranging from DNA damage and aneuploidy in sperm to methylation patterns in human embryos.  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 always been interested in the world data of PGD, having written two papers exploring this in 1994 and 1996. This lead to the establishment of the ESHRE PGD Consortium, and annual world data papers, as well as guidelines and position statements. Through a variety of interesting events, my research has now moved to look at the social, ethical and legal aspects of fertility and fertility treatments. I have been instrumental in the examination of IVF add-ons and the need for evidence based medicine, as well as looking into social egg freezing, childlessness over 50 and the use of FemTech (digital technology for women's health). Having co-founded the Fertility Education Initiative in 2016, I am also looking at how we can establish fertility education in schools and beyond.

Teaching Summary

I have a passion for education and improving education excellence throughout UCL and beyond. I am the Institute for Women's Health Director of Education. In 1996 I co-established the MSc in Prenatal Genetics and Fetal Medicine and followed this in 2002 with a second MSc in Reproductive Science and Women's Health. In recent years we have expanded our repertoire to include and MRes in Reproductive Science and Women's Health and an MSc in Women's Health. 

I want to ensure that men and women are fully informed about their fertility. I am co-founder of the Fertility Education Initiative and we are working at delivering fertility education to schools and beyond. I am currently writing a book on the reproductive years.

I regularly appear in the printed press and on Radio and TV to discuss women's health and fertility.

Academic Background
1988   Doctor of Philosophy King's College London
1984   Bachelor of Science University of London
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