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Centre for Trophoblast Research


Research in the Zernicka-Goetz Laboratory


This information page outlines the research with human embryos carried out within Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz’s laboratory at the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge is intended for IVF patients who may be interested in donating to our research programs. We currently receive donations from CARE Fertility, Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic, Herts & Essex Fertility Centre and King’s Fertility. The Patient Information Sheet provided to you by your clinic will have more detailed and specific information on donating embryos to research and to the projects carried out at the University of Cambridge. Please ask your IVF specialist for a copy of the Patient Information Sheet.

CARE fertility

Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic

Herts & Essex Fertility Centre

King’s Fertility


All research has been approved by the Cambridge Human Biology Research Ethics Committee and the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).


1. HFEA Project – R-0193. Filming of human implantation in vitro

  • Our focus areas include:
  • Understanding the conditions and factors important for human embryo growth at the peri-implantation stage (around 6-7 days post fertilisation) of development.
  • Deepening knowledge about how the cells of the human embryo become specialised during early development and how these different cells interact to form healthy embryos.
  • Investigating how primordial germ cells, which give rise to sperm and eggs, are established.
  • Understanding how the embryo transforms after implantation into the uterus. The embryo at the time of implantation undergoes significant growth, rearrangement and differentiation and these processes are essential to embryo development.


Together, this research aims to increase our knowledge of human embryo development at these crucial stages and may contribute to treatments for infertility and early pregnancy failure.


  • For further information on the group conducting this research please click here
  • Publications. Group publications including human embryo research:


Integrin B1 coordinates survival and morphogenesis of the embryonic lineage upon implantation and pluripotency transition. Molè*, Weberling*, et al., Cell Reports, 2021


Mechanism of cell polarisation and first lineage segregation in the human embryo. Zhu et al., bioRxiv, 2020


Developmental potential of aneuploid human embryos cultured beyond implantation. Shahbazi*, Wang*, Tao*, Weatherbee*, et al., Nature Communications, 2020


Comparative analysis of human and mouse development: From zygote to pre-gastrulation. Molè*, Weberling* & Zernicka-Goetz, Current Topics of Developmental Biology, REVIEW, 2020


Deconstructing and reconstructing the mouse and human early embryo. Shahbazi & Zernicka-Goetz, Nature Cell Biology, REVIEW, 2018


Pluripotent state transitions coordinate morphogenesis in mouse and human embryos. Shahbazi et al., Nature, 2017.


Self-organization of the human embryo in the absence of maternal tissues. Shahbazi*, Jedrusik*, Vuoristo*, et al., Nature Cell Biology, 2016.


Self-organization of the in vitro attached human embryo. Deglincerti, et al., Nature, 2016.