In the latest of our series of ‘Meet the team’ blogs, we introduce Caroline Watkins from our embryology team.
How did you begin your career in IVF?
I started to learn about embryology during my bachelor’s degree back in 2001, this was one of my favourite modules at Sheffield alongside molecular immunology and physical methods for studying biological structures. This is where I took a bit of a side step and completed a PhD in Immunology, more specifically looking at latex allergy and the proteins or allergens involved in initiating the allergic response. Although I enjoyed my PhD, I realised that research provides little day to day rewards and I really wanted to go back to embryology. It was at this point I found out about clinical embryology; it took me a year to find a trainee post in Coventry where I worked for just over 7 years gaining both my certificate in Embryology and lots of experience!
What are your main day to day responsibilities at RHG?
My role here is very varied. I am partly responsible for all the workings that go on in the andrology and embryology laboratories alongside Bert and Ruth. I am also the sperm bank coordinator, so please talk to me about sperm if you want to, I also manage the gamete and embryo storage, look at our data inputting with the HFEA and much more! You will even hear my voice on one of our patient videos. Myself, Bert and Ruth have worked here and achieved a lot in our time. We helped ensure the unit achieved its HFEA licence and Bert is working hard at the moment to expand our PGS service to also allow for PGD.
What aspect of your role is the most rewarding?
In essence, doing a good job.
I appreciate that not everyone entering into fertility treatment will come away with a happy story. In the lab we do our upmost best to try and ensure as many patients as possible do have successful treatment. But when things don’t work out and a patient or couple don’t get pregnant I would hope that the patient feels that we did our best to try and achieve success during their time with us.
What has been your proudest moment at RHG?
There have been a few, from gaining our licence, collecting the first egg, the first pregnancy and the first live birth.
What new services and innovations are you most looking forward to?
The unit has started doing PGS now with a few patients taking this up. It has been great to do something new, to learn how to biopsy embryos and allow our service to continue.
RHG likes to push boundaries and keep on top of latest developments. I am keen to see the lab move towards all cycles having PGS and embryo freezing as standard. One thing Luciano always says; we are not treating you to become pregnant, but to have a healthy child at the end of your journey. I think PGS is a positive step for patients to take to try and achieve this.