Who We Are
Our work would not be possible without our incredible team.
Professor Suzannah Williams, Scientific Research Advisor
BSc (Hons), PhD
Prof. Williams began her academic career by obtaining a degree in Zoology from the University of Aberdeen. It was here she became fascinated by reproductive biology and the potential of assisted reproductive techniques for conservation. After being advised to start by studying domestic species, she embarked on a PhD at the Royal Veterinary College in London investigating nutritional regulation of ovarian function in sheep which included working overseas in Dublin and Perth in Western Australia. After obtaining her PhD, she returned to Perth, supported by a competitive Wain Fellowship, to investigate nutritional regulation of reproduction in rams. Returning to her first love, ovarian function, Prof. Williams obtained a highly regarded Lalor Fellowship to investigate a potential new contraceptive using female rats. Following these studies, with the aim of developing her molecular skills, Prof. Williams moved to New York to investigate ovarian function in transgenic mice at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Here she developed new mouse models of primary ovarian insufficiency (previously known as premature ovarian failure) and a novel model of hyperfertility which revealed new roles for the oocyte in ovarian function.
Prof. Williams returned to the UK to establish her own research group at the University of Oxford. Her ground-breaking studies into primary ovarian insufficiency were funded by the MRC as a highly prestigious New Investigator. She was the first in the UK to establish the technique of generating reaggregated ovaries (supported by the MRC) and she has since used this technique to restore follicle development for mice with dysfunctional ovaries. These studies led her to expand her programme of research to include fertility preservation for women and children; she now leads the Ovarian Research Programme for the Future Fertility Trust at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Learning that many captive female rhinos are infertile due to ovarian dysfunction, and knowing that she developed a technique that could restore their fertility, enabled Prof. Williams to return to her original goal of using assisted reproductive techniques for conservation and she established the Rhino Fertility Project at the University of Oxford in 2019.
Prof. Williams’ academic journey furthering our understanding of ovarian function led her to work with numerous domestic and endangered species (including sheep, penguins, emus, rodents, primates, rhinos and polar bears) in many research groups in multiple continents across the world. Throughout this journey, her goal of working in conservation has never wavered. Her love and appreciation of the natural world, both above and below the water as a keen scuba diver, has driven her to be involved in Nature’s SAFE.
Having watched and learned of the demise of so many species that are essential for the planet’s biodiversity, the creation of Nature’s SAFE, the biobank that will preserve species before they are lost, support conservation and enable their resurrection if needed, is absolutely critical. Without Nature’s SAFE, for many species already so near the brink of extinction, there will be no return. With Nature’s SAFE – there is hope.