Professor Niamh Forde 2023 Winner

The RV Short Medal Winner for 2023 

The inaugural Lecture was held on 25 November 2023 

Professor Niamh Forde 



Professor Niamh Forde is recognized as a world leader in uterine biology. Since establishing her independent career in 2015, her career trajectory has been outstanding gaining her Professorship and Chair in 7 years at the University of Leeds. Her research program strives to define the molecular choreography of early pregnancy for improved fertility, food production, and health.

Professor Forde’s research contribution has vastly increased our understanding of the molecular signals and interactions between the embryo/conceptus and uterine endometrium that contribute to successful pregnancy. Prof. Forde’s contribution to Reproductive Biology is evidenced by her impressive publication record of >75 peer reviewed papers to date, a h-index of 37, 4,890 citations and an i10-index of 64. Three of her publications ranked in the top 500 of the category Reproductive Biology indexed in Web of Science, and Forde et al. 2014, (at submission) one of the top 10 articles selected for excellence and potential impact on reproductive biology in 2014. She has authored 4 book chapters as well as nearly 100 conference publications and has been a consistent attendee to the SSR and SRF annual meetings as well as contributing to their various committees. Her research funding portfolio totals > £5.6 million and is provided by a diverse range of national and international agencies.

Professor Forde’s excellence in research since establishing independence can be grouped in four broad categories:

1) Identifying molecular interactions between the embryo and endometrium that contribute to

diversity in implantation strategies in mammals. Evidence for this achievement of understanding the protein coding and non-coding components of the genome that drives diversity in implantation in mammals (Tinning et al., 2021; Taylor et al., 2023, Hume and Edge et al., 2023).

Funding:  BBSRC (The role of microRNAs in the evolution of implantation in mammals).

2) Understanding how in utero stresses alter developmental trajectory of offspring. In particular her investigations established how we can produce more robust offspring in food production species (Simpson et al., 2022).

Funding: BBSRC (Predicting and enhancing lifetime resilience in dairy cattle).

3) Developing the tools needed to test endometrial function. These include her being the first in the world to publish a 3D bovine endometrium-on-a-chip (Endo 2021).

4) Understanding how climate change will effect offspring health in future generations.

Funding: Wellcome Trust (Mitigating against life-course complications of heat stress).

Other key markers of esteem include:

  • Forde’s work on early pregnancy in cattle has led her to being a consultant to the United Nations IAEA/FAO joint initiative on improving sustainable food production.
  • Work on understanding the role of extracellular vesicles in pregnancy recognition and implantation. This was recognized by her being shortlisted for the Newton Prize in 2019.

Prof. Forde’s commitment to development of students and Post Docs is evidenced by co-founding LeedsOmics. This virtual research Institute was established to facilitate the training and use of Omics technologies in across the University of Leeds. Her graduate students have consistently been prize winning at international conferences including Fertility, the SSR annual meetings, and the World congress in obstetrics and gynaecology. In summary, Prof. Niamh Forde depicts the spirit of the RV Short award through her inclusive, passionate, and supportive research environment that ensures facilitation and support of the best reproductive scientists of the future.