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Dr Kevin Coward

Dr Kevin Coward


  • Mrs Celine Jones (Laboratory Manager)
  • Dr Patricia Grasa (Daphne Jackson Fellow)
  • Dr Eisa Al Eisaei (3rd year DPhil Student)
  • Dr Xin Meng (2nd year DPhil Student)
  • Miss Teresa Vilanova Perez (1st year DPhil Student)
  • Dr Yaqiong Liu (1st year DPhil Student)
  • Dr Paramjit Uppal (FY2 Doctor)
  • Mr Oliver Lloyd-Parry (Medical Student)
  • Miss Amelia Grice (Biochemistry Student)
  • Miss Ana Santos (ERASMUS  Student)
  • Professor Chris Graham (Academic Visitor)


  • Mrs Celine Jones (Laboratory Manager)
  • Dr Bec Dragovic (Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow)
  • Mrs Laura Rose (Administrator)

Coward Group February 2018


  • Oxford Fertility 
  • Dr Helen Townley (NDWRH, Oxford)
  • Professor Dagan Wells (NDWRH, Oxford)
  • Professor Elspeth Garmen (Biochemistry, Oxford)
  • Professor Benedikt Kessler (NDM, Oxford)
  • Professor Chris Barratt (Dundee, UK)
  • Dr Sarah Martins Da Silva (Dundee, UK)
  • Research Instruments Life Sciences (UK)
  • Dr Sheila Lane (OUH NHS Trust, Oxford)
  • Professor Anne Goriely (RDM, Oxford)
  • Dr Rod Mitchell (Edinburgh, UK)


2017 - Bronze Employer Award. Awarded to Dr Kevin Coward and Mrs Celine Jones for excellent engagement with local school children interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Awarded by Science Oxford and the Careers and Enterprise Company.

2016 - Finalist - Royal Society of Biology Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award (Dr Kevin Coward). For an outstanding national contribution to higher education in the biosciences.

2015 - Titular Commendation - University Teaching Excellence Award Scheme. Awarded to Dr Kevin Coward for his continued excellence in teaching for the Medical Science Division.

2015 - Nanoscience Research Leadership Award. Awarded to Dr Kevin Coward and Team by the Cognizure Publication Group based upon publication record in the field.

2014 - University Teaching Excellence Award. For innovative use of information technology in teaching and learning. Awarded to Dr Kevin Coward, Mrs Celine Jones and Dr Natalia Barkalina.

2014 - OxTALENT Award (Teaching & Learning Enhanced with New Technology). Awarded to Dr Kevin Coward, Mrs Celine Jones, and Dr Natalia Barkalina for the design of an interactive video-enhanced poster using whiteboard technology. 

2013 - University Teaching Excellence Award. For innovative use of information technology in teaching and learning. Awarded to Dr Kevin Coward and Mrs Celine Jones.

2013 - OxTALENT Award (Teaching & Learning Enhanced with New Technology). Awarded to Dr Kevin Coward and Mrs Celine Jones for innovative use of interactive whiteboard technology in the classroom.

2012 - University of Oxford Major Educator Teaching Excellence Award. Team award, led by Dr Kevin Coward, for an outstanding contribution to postgraduate education in the Medical Sciences Division.

2005 - British Andrology Society Prize. Jointly awarded to Dr Kevin Coward for work describing the use of in vivo gene transfer procedures for studying spermatogenesis. Joint Conference of the UK Fertility Societies, Fertility 2005, University of Warwick, U.K.



2015 - Winner, Society for Reproduction and Fertility (SRF) Stewart Rhind Science Writing Prize. Miss Ho-Yi Tang (Clinical Medical Student) for an essay discussing new techniques for mitochondrial transfer. 

2011 - Winner, Society for Reproduction and Fertility (SRF) Prize Essay. Miss Claire Durrans (Biochemistry Project Student) for an essay describing the Nobel Prize winning work of Professor Sir Robert Edwards.




Our group is increasingly becoming involved in outreach activities with school children interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We have hosted several work experience students in our laboratory. Dr Coward has also attended grammar schools to talk to sixth formers about studying medicine at Oxford and to discuss the application process. 

Kevin Coward

BSC (Hons) PhD (Stirllng) PGDipLATHE (Oxon) SFHEA FRSB CBiol CSciTeach

Director of the MSc in Clinical Embryology. Principal Investigator/Group Leader

  • Lecturer in Medicine, Trinity College, Oxford
  • Lead for Testicular Cryopreservation Research
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Divisional Audit Sub-Committee
  • Tutor (Divisional Skills Training Programme)


I graduated from the University of Stirling (Scotland) with a Bachelors degree in Biological Science and a PhD in Reproductive Physiology and Endocrinology. Since leaving Scotland in 1994, my research has predominantly involved pharmacological, physiological and molecular aspects of both male and female reproduction utilising a variety of biochemical and molecular approaches. I have held post-doctoral positions at Brunel University, Queen Mary University London, Imperial College London, and University College London. In 2002, I moved to the Department of Pharmacology in Oxford, and in  2008 joined the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health (NDWRH) as Director of the  MSc  in Clinical Embryology.  I am a member of the British Fertility Society, the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, the British Andrology Society, and the Royal Microscopy Society. I have acted as Senior Editor for four academic book volumes.


I have a keen interest in the pedagogy of teaching and student learning. I hold  a Postgraduate Diploma in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (PGDipLATHE) from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. I gained Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2011 and was promoted to Senior Fellowship in 2016. I also hold Chartered Science Teacher Status with the Royal Society of Biology.


Historically, my research has involved the molecular mechanisms of oocyte activation at fertilisation, with special emphasis on how such mechanisms may impart effect upon male fertility. Activation of the egg at fertilization is a fundamental developmental event and in mammals is associated with a rise in intracellular egg calcium that manifests as a series of characteristic oscillations. Current research strongly suggests that the protein responsible is a sperm-specific phospholipase C with distinctive properties, PLCζ. 

My team investigates how PLCζ, and other sperm proteins interacting with the oocyte at fertilisation, might be related to certain types of male infertility including oocyte activation deficiency, total fertilisation failure, or recurrent ICSI failure. Current emphasis includes the potential role of oocyte proteins which interact with PLCζ and other sperm proteins in order to induce activation. Other projects are developing nanoparticle- or exosome-mediated systems to deliver engineered protein constructs, or other molecular agents, into mammalian gametes or embryos. Such methods could provide a useful tool for studying the role of sperm-specific proteins during fertilisation and early embryogenesis, and may provide an effective means of delivering targeted clinical agents. Additional projects concern the potential adverse effects of clinical procedures upon sperm protein structure and function, and are exploring the application of infra-red laser technology in assisted reproductive technology and investigative reproductive science.

My team also collaborates with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on a project which aims to help  young people at risk of developing infertility, for example those undergoing aggressive radio/chemotherapy for childhood cancers. My team provides specific research support/initiative for a clinical programme which aims to cryopreserve testicular tissue from young boys prior to aggressive clinical treatments which may influence sperm production. 

An additional project, led by Professor Graham, seeks to evaluate how cytoplasmic movements in the early human embryo might serve as potential markers of clinical viability.



  • Male infertility, fertilisation, oocyte activation , sperm biology and PLCzeta
  • Nanoparticle- and exosome-mediated delivery systems for gametes and embryos
  • Infra-red laser technology and assisted reproductive technology
  • Fertility preservation - testicular cryopreservation


Our research has been funded by a variety of internal sources (Medical Research Fund, EPA Cephalosporin Fund) and external  sources (The Royal Society, Wingate Trust, Wellcome Trust, EPSRC Pathways to Impact Scheme, The Higher Education Academy,  European Commission, The Rosetrees Trust, The Daphne Jackson Trust, The British Andrology Society).

Our DPhil students have been very successful in securing competitive funding from a number of internal scholarship schemes (Clarendon, Graduate School, Cyril and Phyllis Long) and external scholarship schemes (Ministry of Higher Education - Malaysia, Chancellor's Scholarship - Universiti of Brunei).



Speculative enquiries from those interested in working or studying with us (e.g., potential DPhil, MSc by Research, or ERASMUS students) are welcome at any time. Please contact Dr Coward by email in the first instance. 

Images courtesy of group members, Medical Science Division, Cambridge University Press, OxTALENT, and Matt Lodge Photography.


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