A second Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of Kent and London Women’s Clinic (LWC) has been awarded an ‘A’ for Outstanding by Innovate UK.
Established in 1985 in Harley Street, the London Women’s Clinic has pioneered many of the routine techniques to treat fertility today. Their most recent partnership with the University of Kent set out to develop a test to improve IVF success rates that simultaneously selects the best embryos and guides doctors to achieve a receptive endometrium. By combining these factors, they aimed to deliver a service that would improve clinical outcomes particularly in patients who had previously failed to conceive with IVF.
Over a period of 30 months, LWC worked together with Professor Darren Griffin from the School of Biosciences and Research Associate, Jemma Garrett, to achieve this. Jemma, hired especially to deliver the KTP project part-funded by Innovate UK, used knowledge imparted by University partners and LWC to develop a comprehensive programme to interpret the relevant data intelligently. She has since taken on a permanent role as a Data and Insights Analyst at the clinic.
As well as having a positive impact for patients, the project has had further benefits for the clinic, the University and the Research Associate: research outcomes achieved by the project were published with the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the British Fertility Society, enabling further knowledge exchange within the industry. The team also completed an MSc project and set up two new PhD projects, for which the LWC has been awarded an HFEA research license which, due to the ethical constraints around working with human embryos, are rarely obtained by private clinics.
This has all been achieved through a partnership which spanned a global pandemic, in which many of the LWC staff, including Jemma Garrett, were furloughed. The risk of Covid-19 transmission majorly disrupted the Clinic’s operational pathways, resulting in their losing a year of progress. Despite this, they were able to adapt and apply best practice protocols to re-establish their service and the project successfully.
The top-rated KTP is the latest innovative project since LWC established their collaboration with the University of Kent. In 2010, Professor Griffin collaborated with The Bridge Centre -now part of LWC- to develop a universal means of detecting any genetic disease in an IVF embryo. Then in 2016, LWC embarked on a KTP with the University of Kent to help enable them to screen for couples at risk of transmitting chromosome abnormalities in human embryos. These KTPs were instrumental in the School of Biosciences being awarded second in the country for research impact in the recent national Research Excellence Framework (REF).
Professor Darren Griffin said, “The collaboration between industry and academia has never been more important. We are proud of the long-standing relationship with have with our friends at LWC: the way it benefits staff and students, the way it encourages further collaboration, publication, presence at international meetings and, most importantly, the way it benefits patients.”