He is now stepping down to enjoy semi-retirement and Dr Thanos Papathanasiou – who is already working full-time at the clinic – has been promoted to Lead Clinician for Bourn Hall’s Norfolk clinics, which includes the new satellite clinic in King’s Lynn.
The 2015 success rates for the Norfolk clinics are excellent and show that 56% of patients under the age of 37 enjoy an ongoing pregnancy following blastocyst (five day embryo) transfer.
Dr Mike Macnamee, Chief Executive of Bourn Hall, says: “Our Norfolk fertility service has flourished under the guidance of Dr Al-Taher and we are delighted with his achievements and those of the team, first at Wymondham and now also at King’s Lynn. We would like to thank him for his sterling efforts and are delighted that he will be continuing his good work at the King’s Lynn satellite clinic.
“It is with equal pleasure that I congratulate Dr Papathanasiou on his promotion. He has been very well received by the staff and patients and is a popular choice for the position. In addition to his significant clinical experience he also brings a strong research background and I am sure he will continue Bourn Hall’s pioneering tradition.”
Dr Papathanasiou says he is looking forward to taking up the helm in Norfolk: “It is a great honour to be working with such a dedicated team and to be achieving consistently high results for our patients.”
There is still much to do and Dr Papathanasiou sees opportunities to further develop the current service. He says: “Our recently expanded fertility service now allows GPs to directly refer couples to us for fertility investigations and management. As soon as the investigations are complete, couples can fully explore their fertility options, taking onboard advice from a fertility expert. This allows us to provide a consistent, high quality service during all stages of the fertility journey.”
Dr Papathanasiou is also keen to stress that there are no waiting times for fertility investigations. Once a patient has been referred by their GP, they can have the tests done within one menstrual cycle.
He continues: “In addition to my work with patients, my particular research interest is about how to improve success rates for women who respond poorly to ovarian stimulation. These women tend to self-fund their treatments, as they often fall outside the criteria for NHS funding.
“Abnormal ovarian reserve tests (high follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels or low anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels) in women of fertile age may indicate fertility or hormonal problems that stem from low egg stores; however, I think there is still much that can be done for these women to greatly improve their chances of success.”
Dr Papathanasiou has published high-impact work on this subject, including the recent paper “Trends in ‘poor responder’ research: lessons learned from RCTs in assisted conception”, and has been involved in a relevant Cochrane Review, which advises on best clinical practice.
He says: “There is still much to understand about human reproduction; we are redefining the frontiers all the time and this will provide new opportunities for treatment. I am keen to keep at the forefront of the scientific knowledge and, where possible, take the most promising developments and introduce them into clinical practice, so that patients can gain early benefit from this.”