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Fertility pioneer receives international award

A University scientist has been honoured for her work in developing human eggs in the laboratory.

Close-up of human egg after development in the lab
Close-up of a lab-grown, fully matured human egg ready for fertilisation. Credit Prof David Albertini.

Professor Evelyn Telfer has been named as one of Porter magazine’s Incredible Women of 2018.

The Professor is named alongside others who have inspired by their actions – including the actor Meryl Streep, presenter Oprah Winfrey, and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Other 2018 nominees include Emma Gonzalez, activist survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, the period poverty campaigners Scarlett Curtis and Amika George, and snowboarding Olympian Chloe Kim.

Cell growth

Professor Telfer’s award recognises her research enabling egg cells, removed from ovary tissue at their earliest stage of development, to be grown in the lab to the point at which they are ready to be fertilised.

The advance could safeguard the fertility of girls with cancer ahead of potentially harmful chemotherapy. Immature eggs recovered from patients’ ovaries could be matured in the lab and stored for fertilisation at a later date.

The study has also given insight into how human eggs develop at various stages, which could aid research into other infertility treatments and regenerative medicine.

Significant step

Porter said the team’s achievements were a huge step towards a greater understanding of embryo development and IVF – helping infertile women or those whose fertility is at risk.

The research, carried out in collaboration with the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, the Center for Human Reproduction in New York and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, was supported by the Medical Research Council. It was published in Molecular Human Reproduction.

While it could be years before eggs harvested from the process are deemed safe, the advancement will have a significant impact on current fertility processes.

Porter Magazine


I am deeply honoured to be named in this list. It is recognition of the whole team in Edinburgh – Dr Marie McLaughlin, Professor Richard Anderson and Professor Hamish Wallace – our collaborator in New York, Professor David Albertini, and all the women who have supported this research.”

Professor Evelyn TelferSchool of Biological Sciences

Related links

Porter's Incredible Women

School of Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences - undergraduate study

Biological, Biomedical and Life Sciences – postgraduate study