Hannah Marsden – Clinical Embryology

Some people think of science as technical, dry as dust even. Hannah Marsden’s science takes her for a ride on a wild emotional rollercoaster. There are tears of joy but also of despair, time of hope but also of sorrow – and all this in a single day, perhaps even in a single hour.

Hannah is a clinical embryologist at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital. What she does is an essential part of providing assisted conception to infertile couples. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, she is involved in collection of eggs, preparing sperm, checks on fertilisation as well as embryo culture, freezing and transfers. The services she provides are directly linked to the success of IVF procedures.

Embryologists have direct contact with couples throughout their treatments. Sometimes it falls to embryologists to break bad news. “This can be very difficult because you are dealing with a very vulnerable group of people” says Hannah. She has had training to do this but confesses that she like other embyologists will sometimes burst into tears once the couple have left the room, or she has put the phone down after giving out results, such is their involvement in the couple’s hopes. Embryology is demanding both scientifically since it is a very fast moving, technologically challenging fiels, as well as emtionally but Hannah is not daunted. “My job never feels like a chore, every day is different”. During her training she was able to contribute to research, presenting work on critical temperature fluctuations that occur despite constant monitor readings of embryo culture fluids. This work is already in practical application.

She owes her job, off all things, to ‘The Weakest Link’. She never knew that there was such a thing as a clinical embryologist until someone appearing on the show said that this was her job. Hannah was in the middle of a science degree at the time and decided that was what she wanted to do, rigorously researching the requirements for the job and adding to her CV before making a job application. “I so totally love it. It’s perfect”.



Profile courtesy of Chief Scientific Officer, Department of Health – Professor Sue Hill