Clinical research is vital for the development of new and improved treatments and procedures for all our patients. Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre we have a number of current research trials taking place that you can become involved in, we also have upcoming research that you may also be interested in.

If you would like to get involved in any research at the centre please contact us by:

Telephone: 0151 702 4123
Post: Scientific Administration Team, The Hewitt Fertility Centre, Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, Crown Street, Liverpool, L8 7SS.

Current research

If you would like further information on any of the research projects shown below please contact our research nurse Deborah Coppin directly on 0151 702 4346 or email

  • HABSelect Trial

    Normally sperm is selected for the ICSI procedure based on the way they look. There is now evidence to suggest that sperm have characteristics that could indicate their ability to fertilise eggs that an embryologist cannot see using the standard methods. During this trial, the sperm are exposed to a protein that they would normally be exposed to in the female reproductive tract. If a sperm is able to respond to this protein the embryologist can see clearly when performing the ICSI. It is these sperm, which have a response to the protein, that have been shown to be more viable and therefore more likely to fertilise the egg and create a pregnancy.

  • Comparison of Culture Media Trial

    This trial involves an in-depth analysis of how embryos develop in different culture media. There are many culture media available for human embryos and centres in the UK and the world use different ones. Now that The Hewitt Fertility Centre has time-lapse technology, all embryos are cultured in a special incubator that allows us to see their development in more detail. It is thought that there are subtle differences in the way in which embryos develop depending on the environment they are in. It is hoped that by finding these differences we can improve the way we select the embryos that we use and improve the chance of a successful pregnancy.

    In this trial, embryos will be cultured in three different, commercially available culture media. The embryologist will then look at how the embryos develop in each of them. This trial is not to do with whether your embryos will grow or not in the different types of media; it is about how they grow. All of the culture media used is commercially available and used routinely by many others in the UK.

  • The E-Freeze Trial; does freezing of embryos eventually give better results than fresh transfers?

    One in seven couples experience difficulty in conceiving and many of them will require in vitro fertilisation (IVF). IVF involves hormone injections to stimulate a woman's ovaries to produce eggs which are then removed by a minor operation and mixed with sperm to create embryos in the laboratory. Usually these embryos are replaced within the uterus in 3 to 5 days. This is called fresh embryo transfer. Any remaining embryos are usually frozen so that they can be thawed and transferred at a later date if required - a process known as thaw frozen embryo transfer. Both forms of embryo transfer are commonly used as part of routine IVF treatment.

    There have been some small studies, which suggest that using thawed frozen embryos may lead to improved pregnancy rates. This is because when frozen embryos are used, there is a delay in embryo transfer of between one and three months, allowing the excess hormones of ovarian stimulation to wear off, giving the uterus time to return to its natural state.

    However, as only a few, small studies have currently been done, we do not know which procedure is better for IVF treatment and without further research we cannot say whether fresh or frozen thawed embryo transfer leads to a higher number of healthy babies born. The E-Freeze study will compare these two procedures of embryo transfer in 1,086 couples from IVF centres throughout the UK over the next 2 years to find out which one will give the best chance of having a healthy baby or whether there is no difference at all. Whilst there may be no benefit to being in either treatment arm (fresh or frozen thawed embryo transfer) any risk or adverse effects are unlikely.