MRC Centre for Reproductive Health
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CRH success from our super scientists, amidst a pandemic

It is wonderful to be able to share a great deal of positive news that has happened during the pandemic.

CRH staff have been stepping up to the plate to assist in essential clinical work whilst also making sterling progress in their research fields and adapting quickly and successfully to operating virtually.

Unexpected research opportunities have arisen due to COVID-19, and many of our scientists are involved with these important trials.

Well done to all CRH scientists for being so productive and resilient over the past few months.

COVID-19 related trials involving our scientists include:

ERTBB – biobank sample collection (Reynolds, Stock, Denison)

Recovery trial (Reynolds, Stock, Denison)

ISSF (Reynolds, Stock, Denison, Pollard, Maybin, Murray)

Enjoy Your Bump (Denison, Reynolds, Corbishley)

Home BP monitoring (Denison, Jack. Prof Fiona Denison is leading the evaluation element)

Diabetes studies (approvals pending – Reynolds, Denison)

Face Coverings, Aerosol Dispersion and Mitigation of Virus Transmission Risk (Denison as part of a large team involving engineering/Usher)

Professor Jeff Pollard and Dr Luca Cassetta are working on a COVID-19 project looking at the mechanism of the macrophage response to COVID-19 in humans, with the intent of understanding the cytokine storm.

Professor Andrew Horne has published ‘Endometriosis and the COVID-19 pandemic: clinical advice and future considerations’.

Dr Mike Rimmer (Mitchell lab) has published ‘Provision of obstetrics and gynaecology services during the COVID19 pandemic: a survey of junior doctors in the UK National Health Service.’


We love to share our achievements, now more than ever, and here is a snapshot of CRH highlights:
  • Aleks Tsolova, PhD student in the CRH
    Aleks Tsolova, awarded an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).
    PhD Student Aleks Tsolova (Critchley Lab) was awarded an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).   
  • Dr Sarah Stock and the fantastic Tommy’s midwives and lab team have set up a study to collect samples from pregnant women with possible COVID-19 which will be stored in the Edinburgh Reproductive Tissue Biobank (ERTBB). Tommy’s is also taking part part in the RECOVERY trial of COVID-19 treatments (pregnant and breastfeeding women are eligible in this study, which is a really positive development).
  • Gabriele Matilionyte’s (Mitchell lab, final year PhD student) abstract entitled ‘Pre-treatment with Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor does not protect germ cell populations in the immature human testis from Cisplatin-induced germ cell loss’ was accepted for the oral presentation at the ESHRE’s annual meeting 2020. Gabby pre-recorded her presentation for the virtual version of ESHRE (5-8th July 2020). Gabriele has been selected as one of the five Young Ambassadors for ESHRE which involves reporting the summaries of talks on Twitter. Over recent months Gabby has become a Twitter aficionada - follow her updates via her twitter handle @g_matilionyteGabriele was also selected for the Nature Communications peer review mentoring scheme, organised by Sense about Science. Her application required summarising how peer review process could benefit by including young scientists, in just 200 characters. Out of 150 applications, Gabriele is one of the 30 selected applicants who will take attend the mentoring scheme run by editors from Nature Communications between July and November. Incredible news!
  • Martha Lopez Yrigoyen, Postdoctoral Fellow in the CRH
    Martha Lopez Yrigoyen became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), and was awarded a postgraduate degree in Academic Practice.
    Postdoc Martha Lopez (Pollard and Cassetta labs) became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), and was awarded a postgraduate degree in Academic Practice by the University of Edinburgh. She received this whilst performing cutting edge research in biomedical sciences, which is no mean feat. 
  • Dr Jackie Maybin has created the HOPE website, as part of a multidisciplinary project in collaboration with the CRH, the RSE Young Academy of Scotland, and NHS Lothian: site was developed by Jackie and other academics, business leaders and teachers to provide essential information on menstruation, menstrual disorders and treatments. Jackie was one of three ‘incredible women in STEM’ to be interviewed for the following podcast, created by Equate Scotland. You can have a listen here:
  • Congratulations to Grace Forsyth and Tom Semple for successfully completing their Reproductive Biology degrees. Grace and Tom undertook their Honours projects on fertility preservation under supervision of Gabriele Matilionyte and Rod Mitchell (Mitchell lab). Grace and Tom managed to adapt to the rapidly changing COVID19 situation during the final stages of their projects and produced very well-written reports. Grace received an award for The Top Endocrinology Honours project in the Reproductive Biology class of 2020. Congratulations to both Grace and Tom and all the best for their future careers!
  • Michael Rimmer
    Dr Mike Rimmer, leading vital research during the pandemic
    Dr Mike Rimmer (Mitchell lab) has been leading some vital research during the pandemic which includes managing an assessment of NHS maternity and gynaecology units across the UK by surveying junior doctors working in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and looking at service provision for women’s health care during the pandemic. He received responses from 148 out of 195 units contacted so they have been able to collect some fantastic data. This work represents the largest evaluation of women’s health care in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. What an achievement! Dr Rimmer published ‘Provision of obstetrics and gynaecology services during the COVID19 pandemic: a survey of junior doctors in the UK National Health Service’ in BJOG. It received a huge breadth of media coverage online and through various news outlets with an altmetric score of 181, which puts it as 23rd out of 5298 papers even published in BJOG. Well done Mike, what an incredible feat whilst also being busy with clinical work.  Dr Rimmer also leads the UK Audit and Research collaborative in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (UK ARCOG), which is a national collaborative of O&G trainees. This is a partner organisation for PAN-COVID-2 a national registry of pregnancy outcomes for women with COVID-19: The team is helping to collect data on patients across the UK.
  • Over at the Miron lab, a paper has been published in Nature Neuroscience by PhD student Amy Lloyd who has been awarded the Jean Corsan prize this year from Alzheimer's Research UK for best scientific paper by a trainee. Incredible work Amy! It was covered here: and also in The Herald: student Niamh McNamara is a finalist in the BioRender Graphical Abstract Contest for her diagram on perinatal brain injury. The Miron lab have become experts at virtual presenting.  At the Cold Spring Harbour Glia conference, Postdoc Irene Molina will give an oral presentation on her work on the role of astrocytes in brain repair, and PhD student Niamh McNamara will present on how microglia control normal brain development.  At the FASEB Translational Neuroimmunology conference, Postdoc Lindsey Forbes is presenting on how immune cells from the blood called monocytes are required for regeneration in the brain, and Veronique Miron is giving a virtual talk. Nice work team!
  • Gray lab PhD student Hristina Gyurova has written a short report on the latest research for the Edinburgh University Science Magazine. The RNA origin of life has been a popular hypothesis for decades. However, recent findings suggest that a mixed RNA/DNA model might be a more likely answer. See the article here:

Well done everyone. #superheroes #keepupthegoodwork!