Graduates and University staff outside the Liverpool Cathedral

Dr Simon Fishel

Oration

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Dr Simon Fishel for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.  

Liverpool-born Dr Simon Fishel is Managing Director of CAREfertility, and one of the world's foremost specialists in the field of fertility treatment, widely recognised for his pioneering work in embryology and IVF. 

Originally mentored by Professor Robert Edwards at Cambridge, his academic and business skills have helped him generate numerous scientific breakthroughs, place the IVF field on a firm professional footing world-wide, and dramatically increase the opportunities for those seeking IVF treatment. 

He is now internationally acclaimed for his pioneering work.  

Simon Fishel was born in Liverpool near Calderstones Park to Joe and Jane Fishel. He attended King David's School where he was Head Boy and excelled in Biology and football. According to family friend Charles White - who is present today - it was the thought of going into the family tailoring business which terrified Simon into deciding that he definitely wanted an alternative career.  

He first thought of an outdoor career, but as it turned out, he went to Salford University and graduated with a first class honours degree in Physiology and Biochemistry. From there he went to Cambridge to study Virology which he hated, so he applied for and gained a place at Harvard Business School. 

Fate then intervened: Simon met his guiding mentor, the inspirational Robert Edwards, and began working with him on ground-breaking IVF research.  

Several years later in 1978, by then a Fellow at Churchill College Cambridge, Simon was assisting Professor Edwards and Patrick Steptoe when Louise Brown, the world's first test-tube baby, was born - a life-changing event for all concerned.   

In 1980 whilst still working at Cambridge, he became Deputy Scientific Director of the world's first "test-tube baby clinic" at the nearby Bourn Hall Clinic. In the mid-80s, Simon took up a Readership at the University of Nottingham in the Dept of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and worked closely with Park Hospital. The real potential of IVF treatment was beginning to be recognised worldwide and in 1987 at the invitation of the Chinese Government, he established an IVF programme and advised clinics throughout China on the principles and practices of human IVF - one child per family was seen as a legitimate aspiration for all families.  

An IVF Unit was established at Nottingham in 1991 and the following year, Simon founded the world's first Masters programme in Assisted Reproduction - a very popular course which generated applications from 90 countries and helped professionalise the IVF work by putting the teaching and associated research on a sound scientific basis.  

There followed numerous invitations for Simon to present his research and share his insights into IVF from universities and clinics in all parts of the world. He is now an internationally acclaimed scientist with over 200 publications and three edited books to his name on the development of IVF and micromanipulation technology. 

He has also received many international awards for his work. 

After being awarded a personal chair in Human Reproduction in 1997 in recognition of his ground-breaking work, Simon resigned from the university to establish CAREfertility in order to make IVF treatment more widely available through a national network of clinics.   

Since then, IVF treatment solutions for families have become widely available, with 25 percent of the CAREfertility business generated through the NHS. Numerous international links have been established and the benefits of IVF have been embraced by widely differing cultures. 

The ethical environment has also changed and much research is now focused on the goal of eradicating genetic disease from families.  

Simon and his team remain at the forefront of developments and have had notable world successes in eliminating chromosome problems in the embryo. 

In addition to being Managing Director of CAREfertility, he is currently an Inspector for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and a member of several HFEA committees, a Patron of ISSUE (a self-help charity for people with fertility problems), President of AceBabes, a UK charity established to support the growing number of people who use assisted conception, and a Patron of the Blue Shed Theatre Foundation. 

Simon also established the Rachel Foundation, a charity for research into infertility and fertility preservation. 

Despite his high-profile in his profession and the consequent demanding schedule with frequent international travel, Simon remains close to his Liverpool roots. He is proud of his heritage and is a frequent visitor to his family in Liverpool and is actually a season-ticket holder at Anfield. 

Family members present today are his wife Judy, and three of his children: Kate, Matt and Sav.  

Dr Simon Fishel, this most distinguished scientist whose pioneering work in embryology and IVF has brought hope and fulfilment to countless people has been much honoured throughout the world. Today we are pleased to offer our acknowledgement of Simon's outstanding contribution to science and to humanity.  

Thus I have great pleasure in presenting Dr Simon Fishel, this most distinguished son of our city, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.