Not only do we make 1200 Kiwi babies  a year, but our scientists and doctors are involved in research and development to make fertility treatment more effective and safer. 

This work is across our clinics in New Zealand and Malaysia, as well as collaborative work with other clinics overseas to ensure we continue to deliver world-class care. Our research ranges from ‘blue sky’ science to very practical projects with immediate benefits. 

Our major research partner in New Zealand is the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland.  We also work with the Liggins Institute and the Department of Psychology at the University of Auckland, and the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University.

As the only clinics in New Zealand investing in the latest equipment such as time-lapse photography (TiMI), we are uniquely positioned to deliver research and to share the benefits with our patients.

Work presented at international conferences – giving embryos the best environment in the lab

Does embryo culture media partially ‘dry out’ during IVF culture?

Masters student Georgia Carpenter was selected to give an oral presentation at ESHRE in Barcelona in 2018, the world’s largest fertility and IVF conference.  Georgia’s work described how the droplets that hold embryos become more concentrated over the 5-6 days of embryo culture, despite a protective layer of oil. 

 

Improving culture systems for IVF

Our Scientific Director, Dr Dean Morbeck, was part of the international faculty teaching the ESHRE Pre-Congress course ‘Foundations and developments in culture systems for IVF’.

 

Hot off the press

Does acupuncture improve success in IVF?

Our Wellington clinic, under Medical Director Dr Andrew Murray, took part in a carefully designed trial to see whether acupuncture really improves conception and birth rates.  It found no significant difference between a short course of acupuncture and sessions using dummy needles away from acupuncture points.    This important study was widely reported and was published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.

Are clinics world-wide throwing away viable embryos?

Scientific Director Dr Dean Morbeck and Clinical Embryologist and Research Analysts Dr Elizabeth (Lili) Hammond recently reviewed scientific studies on slow developing and low-quality embryos.  Their review, published in the journal Human Reproduction, concludes that some slower embryos can give rise to children.  Dean and Lili are currently working with the IVF Kyono group in Japan on better ways of grading embryos.

 Current surveys

Coming soon – your views egg and sperm donation

We are pleased to help Dr Sonja Goedeke from the Auckland University of Technology with her upcoming survey – more details when Sonja’s survey goes live.

 

Calling donor conceived adults

Lawyer, writer and legal researcher, Zoe Lawton, is seeking adults who were conceived using donor sperm for their thoughts on NZ’s ART laws.  Zoe has already recruited 22 people aged 18-37 and is hoping to find a total of 50-100 people to give her a representative picture.

Areas of research over the past decade
  • Can we measure DNA in culture media as an alternative to embryo biopsy to screen for chromosome abnormalities?
  • Can we improve the prediction of time lapse photography of embryos by looking at gene expression of the eggs supporting cells?
  • What do mitochondria in eggs and their supporting cells tell us about the aging of eggs?
  • How does temperature change in embryo culture dishes and during embryo handing in the IVF lab? Work by Dr Sophie Blomfield as part of her PhD thesis in association with the Department of Bioprocess Engineering, Massey University.
  • Continuous improvement in IVF clinics under the RTAC accreditation system
  • Falling sperm quality in NZ men over 25 years
  • Lifestyle changes people make before IVF treatment – do they make sense?
  • Growth and metabolism of children conceived after IVF, frozen embryos and ovulation induction. Several papers with the Liggins Institute.
  • Why do patients give up on IVF treatment?
Publications in medical and scientific journals
  • Mourad SM, Curtis C, Gudex G, Merrilees M, Peek J, Sadler L (2018). - Measuring patient-centeredness in publicly funded fertility care: a New Zealand validation and international comparison of the PCQ-Infertility. Aust NZ J Obstet Gynaecol (in press).
  • Mortimer D, Cohen J, Mortimer ST, Fawzy M, McCulloh DH, Morbeck DE, Pollet-Villard X, Mansour RT, Brison DR, Doshi A, Harper JC, Swain JE, Gilligan AV (2018). - Cairo consensus on the IVF laboratory environment and air quality: report of an expert meeting. Reprod Biomed Online. 2018 Jun;36(6):658-674
  • Hammond ER, Cree LM, Morbeck DE (2018). - Should extended blastocyst culture include Day 7? Hum Reprod. 2018 Jun 1;33(6):991-997
  • Morbeck DE (2017). - Blastocyst culture in the era of PGS and freeze-alls: Is a 'C' a failing grade? Hum Reprod Open 2017(3)
  • Hammond ER, McGillivray BC, Wicker SM, Peek JC, Shelling AN, Chamley LW, Cree LM (2017). - Characterising nuclear and mitochondrial DNA in spent embryo culture media Fertil Steril 107(1):220-228
  • Harrison K, Peek J, Chapman M, Bowman M (2016). - Continuous improvement in national ART standards by the RTAC accreditation system in Australia and New Zealand. Aust NZ j Obstet Gynaecol 57(1):49-51
  • Hammond ER, Shelling AN, Cree LM (2016). - Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA in blastocoele fluid and embryo culture medium: evidence and potential clinical use. Hum Reprod 2016 31(8):1653-61
  • Blomfield S, Redding GP, Bronlund JE, Stewart B, Peek J (2016). - A model for characterisation of the thermal environment of embryos in a Petri dish during in vitro culture. Cellular and Molecular Engineering. 9(4):546-555
  • Hammond ER, Green MP, Shelling AN, Berg MC, Peek JC, Cree LM (2016). Oocyte mitochondrial deletions and heteroplasmy in a bovine model of aging and ovarian stimulation. Hum Mol Reprod 22(4):251-71
  • McDowell S, Murray A (2016). Does it really matter if sperm counts are decreasing? N Z Med J 128(1423):17-9
  • Birdsall M, Peek J, Valiapan S (2015). Sperm quality in New Zealand: Is the downward trend continuing? N Z Med J 128(1423)
  • Hammond ER, Stewart B, Peek JC, Shelling AN, Cree LM (2015). Assessing embryo quality by combining non-invasive markers: early time-lapse parameters reflect gene expression in associated cumulus cells. Hum Reprod 30(8):1850-60
  • Savage T, Derraik JGB, Peek JC, Hofman PL, Cutfield WS (2015). The addition of FSH to Clomiphene citrate for ovarian stimulation does not affect offspring stature but may alter body composition in childhood. Clin Endocrin 83(6),997-9
  • Gormack A, Peek JC, Derraik JGB, Gluckman PD, Young N, Cutfield WS (2015). Many women make poor lifestyle changes in preparation for IVF treatment which may affect outcome and children’s health. Hum Reprod 30(7), 1617-24
  • Cree LM, Hammond ER, Shelling AN, Berg MC, Peek JC, Green MP (2015). Maternal age and ovarian stimulation independently affect oocyte mtDNA copy number and cumulus cell gene expression in bovine clones. Hum Reprod 30(6):1410-20
  • Green MP, Mouat F, Miles HL, Pleasants AB, Henderson HV, Hofman PL, Peek JC, Cutfield WS (2014). The phenotype of an IVF child is associated with peri-conception measures of follicular characteristics and embryo quality. Hum Reprod 29(11),2583-91
  • Ekart J, McNatty K, Hutton J, Pitman J. (2013) Ranking and selection of MII oocytes in human ICSI cycles using gene expression from associated cumulus cells. Hum Reprod 28(11), 2930-42
  • Green MP, Mouat F, Miles HL, Hopkins SA, Derraik JGB, Hofman PL, Peek JC, Cutfield WS (2013). Phenotypic differences in children conceived from fresh and thawed embryos in in vitro fertilization compared with naturally conceived children. Fertil Steril 99: 1898-1904.
  • Savage T, Peek J, Robinson EM, Green MP, Miles HL, Mouat F, Hofman PL, Cutfield WS (2013). Ovarian stimulation leads to shorter stature in childhood. Hum Reprod. 27 (10), 3092-9
  • Gillett WR, Peek JC, Herbison GP (2012). Development of clinical priority access criteria for assisted reproduction and its evaluation on 1386 couples in New Zealand. Hum Reprod. 27(1), 131-141
  • Murray A, Hutton J (2011). Successful tubal blastocyst transfer after laparoscopic cervical cerclage: cesarean delivery of a live very low-birth-weight infant and later hysterectomy for uterine rupture. Fertil Steril 96(4), 895-7
  • Savage T, Peek J, Hofman PL, Cutfield WS (2011). Childhood outcomes of assisted reproductive technology. Hum Reprod. 26(9):2392-400.
  • McDowell S, Murray A (2011). Barriers to continuing in vitro fertilisation--why do patients exit fertility treatment? Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2011 51(1):84-90