Professor Henry Leese

PhD, FRCOG (ad eundem)

Professor Emeritus

Role at Hull York Medical School
  • Chair of Metabolic Research Unit within the Centre for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research
  • Plenaries to MBBS students and those taking the MSc in Physician Associate (PA) Studies
  • Member of five postgraduate training advisory panels
  • Associated with Dr Roger Sturmey's research group within HYMS

Henry Leese is an Emeritus Professor of Biology in HYMS. His first degree was in Physiological Chemistry from Reading University and his PhD (Imperial College London) was on the effect of diabetes on glucose transport and metabolism by small intestine.

He continued to work on nutrient absorption and metabolism as a post doc at York University, followed by a year at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich studying the enzyme lactase. He then returned to York and changed research direction to examine secretion by the female reproductive tract and following a sabbatical at Harvard USA in 1980, began work on metabolism in early mammalian embryos.

He devised and pioneered the use of non-invasive biochemical assays to determine the metabolism of single embryos and is co-inventor of four patents on the use of metabolic profiling to determine cellular health.

He was given a Personal Chair at York in 1997. He has been awarded Honorary Fellowships by the Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE: 2002), British Fertility Society (BFS: 2010) Society for Reproduction and Fertility (SRF 2011) and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FRCOG ad eundem in 2003. He was awarded the Marshall Medal of the SRF in 2010. In 2016, he gave the BFS Steptoe Lecture and received Honorary Membership of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology ( From 1998-2002 he was a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and is currently on their Horizon Scanning Group.


Research interests include the biology of early mammalian embryos and their environment in the fallopian tube and uterus.Professor Leese is also associated with Dr Roger Sturmey's research group within HYMS, which studies how preimplantation embryo metabolism relates to the capacity to produce a blastocyst and give rise to a pregnancy; specifically, it aims to identify the optimal metabolic zone within which embryos with maximum developmental potential will be located. This information is important in ensuring the safety and efficacy of techniques for human assisted conception and the health of the offspring in later life.

  • Plenaries to MB BS students and those taking the MSc in Physician Associate (PA) Studies
  • Member of five postgraduate training advisory panels

Professor Leese is co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Human Fertility. The journal is produced on behalf of the BFS, the ACE, the British Andrology Society, the British Infertility Counselling Association and the Royal College of Nurses Fertility Nursing Group reflecting his belief that issues in medicine benefit from a multidisciplinary approach. 

He has 272 publications and an ‘H’ Score of 66.

Recent publications

  • Forsey KE, Ellis PJ, Sargent CA, Sturmey RG, Leese HJ (2013), Expression and localization of creatine kinase in the preimplantation embryo, Molecular Reproduction and Development 28: 1031044
  • Guerif F, McKeegan P, Leese HJ, Sturmey RG (2013), A Simple Approach for COnsumption and RElease (CORE) Analysis of Metabolic Activity in Single Mammalian Embryos, PLoS One; 8 (8):e67834
  • Brison DR, Sturmey RG, Leese HJ (2014), Metabolic heterogeneity during preimplantation development: the missing link?, Human Reproduction Update 20: 632-640
  • Leese HJ (2014), Effective nutrition from conception to adulthood, Human Fertility 17: 252-256
  • Leary C,Leese HJ, Sturmey RG (2015), Human embryos from overweight and obese women display phenotypic and metabolic abnormalities, Human Reproduction 30:122-32
  • Leese HJ (2015), History of oocyte and embryo metabolism, Reproduction Fertility and Development 27:567-571
    Ghavideldarestani M, Atkin SL, Leese HJ, Sturmey RG (2016), Expression and function of transient receptor potential channels in the female bovine reproductive tract, Theriogenology. 86:551-61
  • Leese HJ, Guerif F, Allgar V, Brison D, Lundin K, Sturmey RG (2016), Biological optimization, the Goldilocks principle, and how much is lagom in the preimplantation embryo, Molecular Reproduction and Development 83:748-54