BAS Grant Committee Profiles
Professor Bill Holt PhD, MRSB, CBiol
Bill spent most of his career at the Institute of Zoology (Zoological Society of London) where he combined studies of basic reproductive biology in various species with some practical developments of reproductive technology. Bill has a long standing interests in the biology of sperm transport and storage in the female reproductive tract and, together with Professor Alireza Fazeli (University of Sheffield), was among the first to demonstrate that when sperm arrive in the female tract they stimulate de novo gene transcription and protein production. Later in vitro studies showed that the gene transcription only occurs if the sperm make direct contact with epithelial cells.
More recently Bill has also branched out into the world of fish sperm biology. This was prompted by someone from “Project seahorse” saying that very little is known about the reproductive biology of seahorses, and indeed how important it is to know more, given their globally perilous state. Climate change, pollution and heavy over fishing have put these species in danger of extinction, but we don’t even know how they transfer sperm from the testes to the eggs. Working with a colleague from Ukraine, Dr Boris Dzuba, it has been shown that seahorses produce the smallest numbers of sperm of any fish species, but that they use them incredibly efficiently. The sperm-egg ratio is only about 5:1, which is amazing for a species that apparently uses an external mode of fertilisation. Bill is currently also working with colleagues from the Canary Islands on the influence of the male’s periconception diet on seahorse pregnancy (which occurs in males rather than females!) and the fitness of offspring.
Kevin McEleny PhD FRCS(Urol)
Newcastle Fertility Centre
After completing higher surgical training in the Northern Deanery, Kevin was appointed as a Consultant Urologist in 2009 and has set up a unique patient-centred, supra-regional male fertility service, treating couples from across the North of England and Northern Ireland who have severe male factor fertility problems. He has introduced a number of new microsurgical procedures for male fertility problems to the North of England (MicroTESE, MESA) and novel procedures for other male genital problems also, including chronic testicular pain (Microsurgical Varicocele Ligation and Spermatic Cord Denervation), which are performed at the RVI. Working closely with his Reproductive Medicine colleagues, Kevin holds his Andrology clinics at Newcastle Fertility Centre, where he has also set up a popular one-stop vasectomy service, as well as general urology clinics at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gateshead.
Amongst other roles, Kevin is the elected Andrology Representative for the British Fertility Society and Chair of their Education and Training Committee. He has overseen the development of a number of national fertility education training modules and life science educational events for School students. He has supervised postgraduate students undertaking MD projects on male fertility topics and his current research interests include the Psycho-social aspects of male fertility and Kleinfelter’s Syndrome.
Dr Sheryl Homa PhD ARCS FIBMS – Clinical Scientist
Sheryl Homa is an HCPC registered Clinical Scientist with a special interest in male fertility. She obtained her degrees in Biochemistry at Imperial College of Science and Technology and the Middlesex Hospital Medical School. She spent a large part of her career as an academic research scientist in the field of oocyte maturation, funded by the National Institutes of Health in the USA. For many years she served as Scientific Director of several fertility clinics in the UK working in both the public and private sectors. She has collaborated on many research projects including investigating calcium signalling in sperm and sperm aneuploidy. More recently her work has focused on oxidative stress, infection and sperm quality. Currently Sheryl is director of Andrology Solutions, an HFEA licensed male fertility clinic offering expert care and advice for men’s fertility and sexual health. She is also honorary senior lecturer at University of Kent and consultant clinical lead for Andrology at The Doctors Laboratory.
Geoffrey is a technical entrepreneur and over the last 40 years has been personally involved with some thirty companies operating in fields ranging through electronics, biotechnology, software, sensors and medical equipment. His day job has been building up a medical products company specialising in equipment for cell environments. This company, Planer plc, specialises in products relating to temperature, gases, humidity, pH and other parameters in the assisted reproduction, biologic and medical cell fields. Planer plc pioneered the development and use of many controlled temperature products – incubators and freezers – as well as sensors and equipment for monitoring and logging in the lab. The company holds a number of patents and is approved and assessed to the demanding standards of medical device manufacture: ISO13485:2012.
Gareth was diagnosed azoospermic 12 years ago. He and his wife underwent 6 rounds of IUI and 3 rounds of IVF. They funded all except the fresh cycle IVF which obtained through the NHS. They had several miscarriages to deal with and the usual social issues that infertility deals. That said after 8 years Gareth and his wife now have their miracle boy, now 9 months old. As a result of the experience Gareth set up a male support page for men going through fertility treatment https://www.facebook.com/groups/mensfertilitysupport/
and has participated in a few TV and radio interviews to boost awareness.