14 June 2022

Virtus Health embryologist awarded in Queens Birthday 2022 Honours

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Queensland Fertility Group

Professor David Gardner, IVF pioneer and world-renowned scientist has been appointed Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list, for Services to Reproductive Medicine and Education over the last four decades.

“I’m truly humbled and extremely honoured to receive this award and recognition. It signifies a tribute to the thousands of scientists, nurses and doctors who strive everyday to help people become parents,” said Professor Gardner, Virtus Health’s Group Director of ART, Scientific Innovation & Research and Scientific Director of Melbourne IVF.

Professor Gardner’s scientific work has greatly advanced embryo research and revolutionised IVF practises around the world. He pioneered blastocyst culture and transfer (extending the embryo culture in the laboratory for five days before transferring back to the woman’s uterus) which resulted in an increase in implantation and pregnancy rates, culminating in the birth of millions of children around the world.

The Gardner grading system, which is used internationally to grade human blastocysts, was developed by Professor Gardner and carries his namesake the 'Gardner Grade’.

“Even after working in the field for 40 years, I’m still excited by new research which has the potential to improve future patient treatments. To identify embryos that will lead to the healthiest pregnancy, new technologies to reduce time to pregnancy and to give patients the best chance of getting pregnant the first time,” said Professor Gardner.

Professor Gardner remains passionate about training graduate students and Research Fellows, and has an international reputation for mentoring and teaching.

“I’m constantly in awe of the tremendous intellect of my students and fellows, and together we continue to discover new insights into reproductive sciences, and consequently the future of IVF is extremely bright,” said Professor Gardner.

Professor Gardner’s own PhD and speciality training was completed under the supervision of highly experienced research professionals. Professor Henry Leese at the University of York (England) for his PhD; Professor John Biggers in at Harvard Medical School in 1988, and Alan Trounson and Carl Wood when he moved to Australia, in 1989. ​David was the Scientific Director of the world leading IVF team at the Colorado Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Denver from 1997 to 2007, before returning to Australia to become Head of Department, University of Melbourne.

In further recognition of his research contributions, in 2017 Professor Gardner was awarded Australia’s highest scientific honour, when he was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA).

Professor Gardner is particularly proud of his early research which laid the foundation for major clinical developments in human IVF. 

Today Professor Gardner is focused on finding future IVF advances through technology and the development of biomarkers of human embryo health.

 “I predict the IVF lab will be further optimised using 3D microfabrication devices to improve embryo development and pave the way for the automation of processes.  We’ll see the application of exciting technologies which provide better insight into embryo health by analysing both metabolism and embryo-derived factors secreted in the culture medium. All of this will be augmented by artificial intelligence, to assist in the analysis of the growing amount of data we collect for each embryo." said Professor Gardner.

Meet Professor David Gardner

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