Nicole McPherson

Dr Nicole McPherson

NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow

School of Biomedicine

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Dr Nicole McPherson is a Senior Lecture and ARC DECRA Research Fellow who runs the Male Reproductive Life Course Group in the Freemasons Centre for Male Health and Wellbeing, the Robinson Research Institute and the Discipline of Reproduction and Development at the University of Adelaide. As of 2024, Dr McPherson is also the Director of Research for Genea (Australia’s premier IVF company). Her research group and ART discovery laboratory is located on level 5 of the Adelaide Health and Medical Science Building (AHMS).


Research Vision

We now know that the responsibilities of fatherhood start well before conception. Obesity and chronic disease in men, whilst known to impact their own fertility, also extends to the disease burden in their children. Promoting 'healthy paternity’ may motivate men to improve their own health and in doing so, intervene in the transfer and amplification of chronic disease and reproductive ill-health in the next generation. Our research examines the biology of how disease risk is transferred via sperm and uses this knowledge to develop tests of risk and interventions for use in IVF practice and for family planning.


STUDENT PROJECTS (Semester 1, 2024 Start, Honours, Masters and PhD)

1. How mammalian males indirectly control epigenetic remodelling of the early embryo (Grant Funded: Honours and PhD)

The mechanistic pathway by which environmental cues to males prior to conception are able to program offspring traits is unknown. One candidate is microRNAs (miRs). MiRs are non-coding RNAs (ncRNA) present in sperm that respond and modify in abundance to environmental cues and can alter offspring traits. How these sperm miRs transmit offspring traits is unknown. This project examines one particular miR cluster, miR-30, which is upregulated in sperm in response to environmental change and looks to understand how it acts to reprogram the early embryo to alter offspring phenotypes.


2. Space sperm (Honours)

Space exploration and mining requires the ability for mammals to be able to reproduce successfully in different gravitation forces. This project looks to understand how microgravity effects sperm function and fertilisation ability, as well as understanding how and if embryos are able to be produced in zero gravity.


3. Nutrition for optimum male fertility (PhD) 

There is increasing focus on the relevance of preconception care to maximize pregnancy success and child health, to support environmental and lifestyle influences, and create awareness around infertility. However, despite the increased recognition and importance of nutrition for reproductive health, consistent evidence-based research identifying key dietary factors to support fertility especially in couples remains unclear especially in men. While there is some evidence to suggest that eating a healthy diet is good for sperm health, there is no information surrounding pre-conception diet in men for time to pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes. This project looks to understand the best nutritional patterns in men for optimising fertility.

Additional Supervisors: Dr Jessica Greiger


4. Improving sperm function for IVF (Grant Funded: Honours and PhD)

There is a pressing need for improved treatments in men that can increase fertilisation rates following IVF and AI. ICSI, and to a lesser extent IVF, bypass key sperm maturation (capacitation and hyperactivation occurring in the oviduct) events that naturally occur in the female tract prior to fertilisation, which cannot always be readily achieved in the clinic. Therefore, we need to better mimic natural sperm maturation and selection processes of the female reproductive tract, clinically. This project looks to improve sperm function in vitro to increase fertilisation rates and improve embryo and fetal health in a wide range of mammalian species.  

Additional Supervisors: A/Professor Mark Nottle


5. Men's access to preconception health care services (Grant Funded: Honours and Masters)

There is a growing expectation that men should be involved in preconception care however, our health care system does not proactively engage men as they attempt to become fathers even though they value parenthood and there is little acknowledgement of their roles or emotional needs when interacting with the health care system during this time. Men’s understanding about fertility and pregnancy is inadequate and they tend to overestimate chance of natural conception. This project looks to understand men's needs and wants to preconception knowledge and care and understand mens attitudes when diagnosed with infertility and infertility treatment.

Additional Supervisors: Professor Deb Turnbull, Dr Melissa Oxlad





  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2015 - ongoing NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow (Peter Doherty) University of Adelaide
    2014 - 2014 Post-Doctoral Research Officer University of Adelaide
    2011 - ongoing 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
2022-2024 How mammalian males indirectly control transmission of paternal traits (DE22101449) CIA - Australian Research Council (ARC) $467,399
2022 Men's unmet psychosocial needs when diagnosed with male infertility CIA - Ferring Pharmaceuticals $50,000

Progesterone and Granulocyte Macrophase Colony to improve fertility

CIB - Davies Livestock Research Center $45,000
2022 D4Ds - Diet for Dads Sperm CIA - Masonic Charities - FFCFMHW $40,000
2015 - 2021

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

NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship (Peter Doherty) $309,436
2021 D4Ds - Diet for Dads Sperm CIA - Robinson Research Institute $50,000
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
2021 - Current Paedeatrics and Reproductive Health Honours Coordinator University of Adelaide
2020 - Current 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
    2023 Principal Supervisor Understanding the contribution of sperm non-coding RNA in early embryogenesis. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Joshua Caryl Deluao
    2023 Principal Supervisor The Role of MicroRNA-30 in Preimplantation Embryo Development and offspring Traits in Mammals Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Oluwabunmi Ifedunni Olatunji
    2022 Principal Supervisor The relatonship between obesity, insulin resistance and male fertility Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Andrew Craig Peel
    2022 Co-Supervisor Parental nutrition, fertility and reproductive health outcomes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Cathryn Ann Tully
    2020 Co-Supervisor The Effect of GM-GSF on In Vitro Oocyte Maturation (IVM) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Anmol Saini
    2020 Co-Supervisor New insight into spermatozoa selection for improving assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) outcomes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Soraya Rasi Ghaemi
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2020 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Metabolic disruptions in oocytes and embryos modifies DNA and histone methylation and alters embryonic development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Alexander Penn
  • 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
  • Org Unit: Medical Sciences

Connect With Me
External Profiles