Nicole McPherson

Dr Nicole McPherson

NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Dr Nicole McPherson is an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow and runs the Sperm and Embryo Biology Research Group at the Robinson Research Institute and the Freemasons Centre for Men's Health at the University of Adelaide. Dr McPherson works in close affiliation with the Monash IVF group to ensure her research stays translatable. Our groups main research interests include;

  • Lifestyle and environmental factors of male fertility
  • Paternal Programming of Childrens Health
  • Non-invasive measures of embryo quality
  • Clinical Andrology
  • Sperm/egg Interactions and associated early embryo development


HONOURS PROJECTS (for Semester 2, 2020 and Semester 1, 2021 Start)

1) Improving IVF outcomes via sperm

Supervisors: Dr Nicole McPherson, Dr Leanne Pacella-Ince and Dr Deirdre Zander-Fox

Intra-cytoplasmic sperm (ICSI) is the most commonly performed ART technology with more than 85% of patients undergoing artificial insemination utilizing this technology. Although, now a routine part of ART treatment, studies have demonstrated that children born from ICSI have an increased risk for congenital birth defects compared to those conceived from natural conception. Before sperm has the capacity to fertilize and conceive a healthy embryo and fetus, it must first undergo post ejaculation maturation (capacitation and hyperactivation) which occurs in the female reproductive tract. However, current ICSI sperm preparation protocols completely ignore this post ejaculation sperm maturation step. In this project, we will utilise a clinical mouse model of ICSI to induce post ejaculation sperm maturation in vitro and determine outcomes to embryos and fetuses.   

Location: Level 5, AHMS


2) Understanding how increased reactive oxygen species of sperm contributes to early embryo and fetal loss

Supervisor: Dr Nicole McPherson

An imbalance in ROS towards oxidative stress in sperm occurs in many male pathologies (male obesity, smoking, aging, chemical exposure and subfertility) all of which have been shown to increase offspring susceptibility to disease in both animal models and humans. However, we and others have shown that although mitochondria superoxide is mildly elevated in sperm, it does not appear to be the main source of ROS in sperm. One of the primary hypothesis for how sperm acquirer increased ROS is via either through the depletion of their own antioxidant protection, making them reliant on the antioxidant protection of the male reproductive tract, or exposure to excessive intrinsic or extrinsic ROS production. In this project we will activate individual ROS species in mature sperm (O2, H2O2, O- , OH- and nitric oxide) and assess how this influences early embryo development. 

Location: Level 5, AHMS 

External Supervisors

  • Dr Leanne Pacella-Ince is the Deputy Scientific Director at Repromed
  • Dr Deirdre Zander-Fox is the Regional Scientific Director of the Monash IVF Group


  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2015 NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow (Peter Doherty) University of Adelaide
    2014 - 2014 Post-Doctoral Research Officer University of Adelaide
    2011 Andrologist Repromed
    2009 - 2011 Research Assistant Universty of Adelaide
    2007 - 2009 Clinical Scientist Ashford Hospital
    2007 - 2007 Technical Assistant University of Adelaide
    2006 - 2007 Technical Assistant Ashford Hospital
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2014 Award Best Oral Presentation International Conference of Spermatology
    2014 Recognition David Healy New Investigator Award Annual Society for Reproductive Biology Australia
    2013 Award Student Poster Prize, Robinson Institute Research Day Robinson Research Institute Australia 500
    2013 Recognition New Investigator Award finalist Annual Society for Reproductive Biology Australia
    2012 Award Paediatrics and Reproductive Health Student Poster Prize Post Graduate Research Day, University of Adelaide Australia 500
    2011 Award Prize paper Annual American Society for Reproductive Biology Australia
    2011 Recognition Oozoa Student Award finalist Annual Society for Reproductive Biology Australia
    2010 Recognition Honours Oral Award finalist Annual Australian Society of Medical Research Australia
    2010 Recognition Student Poster Prize A Healthy Start to Life, 2nd Nutritional Genomics Symposium Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2011 - 2014 University of Adelaide Australia PhD (Deans Commendation)
    2009 - 2010 University of Adelaide Australia First Class Honours in Health Science
    2005 - 2007 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Health Science
Date Project/ No. Funding Body Amount
2015 - 2019

Sperm methylation status predicts embryo and pregnancy outcomes in male obesity (AA1088964)

NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship (Peter Doherty) $309,436
2020 COVID-19 Support CIA - Robinson Research Institute $19,832
2020 ROSS - ROS in Sperm CIA - Masonic Charities - FFCFMHW $45,000
2019 Sperm Class Analyser CASA System CIA - Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Research Infrastructure Funding Awards $72,545
2018 Exercise in males born growth restricted to restore sperm function preventing adverse offspring health

AI - NHMRC Project Grant (APP1140401)

2016 Acrosome reacted sperm - a novel way to improve ICSI technology Monash IVF MREF $29,833
2014 Male obesity changes the methylome of sperm and impairs pregnancy outcomes in humans CIA - Robinson Research Institute Innovation Seed Funding Program $20,000

Human sperm microRNAs are dyregulated by obesity and are potentially biomarkers for ART outcomes

CIC – Robinson Research Institute innovation Seed Funding Program $25,000
Date Course Title Institution
2020 OBG&GYN 3001 'Human Infertility' University of Adelaide
2014 Complex Midwifery and Family Centred Care lecture, ‘Interpreting a semen analysis and lifestyle factors of male sub- fertility’ Repromed
2014 CRBM lecture, ‘Clinical Andrology’ and ‘Lifestyle Factors and Male Fertility’ University of Adelaide
2014 HDR III workshop, ‘ART and New Technology University of Adelaide
2013 - 2015 HDR III lecture and workshop, ‘Lifestyle Factors and Male Fertility’ University of Adelaide
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2020 Co-Supervisor Epigenetic Programming in the Early Embryo Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Alexander Penn
    2020 Co-Supervisor The Effect of GM-GSF on In Vitro Oocyte Maturation (IVM) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Anmol Saini
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2014 - ongoing Member International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
    2011 - ongoing Member Freemason's Centre for Men's Health
    2010 - ongoing Member Australian Society for Medical Research
    2010 - ongoing Member Robinson Research Institute
    2009 - ongoing Member Society for Reproductive Biology
    2009 - ongoing Member Fertility Society of Australia
    2009 - ongoing Member Scientists in Reproductive Technology
    2009 - ongoing Member Research Centre for Reproductive Health
  • Position: NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow
  • Phone: 83138201
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor 5
  • Room: WS5050.15
  • Org Unit: Paediatrics and Reproductive Health

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