Kevin Coward
Lecturer in Medicine

Profile

Kevin Coward 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, his research has predominantly involved pharmacological, physiological and molecular aspects of both male and female reproduction utilizing a variety of biochemical and molecular approaches. He has held post-doctoral positions at Brunel University, Queen Mary University London, Imperial College London, and University College London. In 2002, he moved to the Department of Pharmacology in Oxford, and in 2008 joined the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology as Director of the MSc in Clinical Embryology.

Teaching

Kevin is a Lecturer in Medicine at Trinity College Oxford.

Research

Historically, Kevin’s 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.

His 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-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.

His 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. His 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.