Professor James Brown was one of the pioneers of urinary oestrogen measurements and developed the first chemical assay methods while working with Professor Guy Marrian, the discoverer of oestrogens, in Edinburgh in the 1950's.
From that time, until his retirement, he worked on and refined his chemical methods documenting the urinary patterns in all aspects of reproductive life. Having noticed that women gained immense benefit from knowing their hormone values, he set out to develop home tests for this purpose.
During the 1960's, Professor Brown was based in Melbourne, Australia, and in conjunction with Dr John and Dr Lyn Billings, he used his urinary hormone assays to validate the mucus method of Natural Family Planning (NFP). The combination of a large population of women from the Billings' clinics, who had natural cycles, and the recourse to his laboratory hormone assays built up a unique collection of data validating all aspects of fertility and infertility. Since 1988, the use of the home Ovarian Monitor in Victoria, Australia and in a World Health Organisation trial has resulted in a priceless collection of home hormonal data, collected by the women themselves.
After Professor Brown passed away in 2009, the research was moved to Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, under the guidance of his protege Professor Len Blackwell.
Professor Blackwell is trained in organic chemistry, biochemistry and reproductive physiology and for the past 36 years has been involved in research and development of urinary assays as point-of-care diagnostic kits and lateral flow immuno chromatographic assays. He has developed prototypes for five different analytes relating to reproduction and fertility, and a device for overcoming the fluctuations in urine volume which has held back non-invasive point-of-care diagnostic tests.
His focus has been on carrying out fundamental research into the chemistry and biochemistry of the enzymatic reactions and biomaterials that underpin the Meter, with the help of Honours and Ph.D students he has supervised at Massey University. Professor Blackwell has also investigated alternative enzymatic systems for measuring the reproductive urinary hormones and developed quantitative immuno-chromatography methods for determining a range of urinary hormone metabolites related to fertility and infertility.
Professor Blackwell is also one of The Health and Fertility Foundation's trustees and the Fertility Meter is the Health and Fertility Foundation's cornerstone project.
Related published works include:
Prof. James B. Brown
‘…In these days of hype, grossness and glitz, Dr Brown is a model of scientific practice who is even more imposing by the low profile that he has been able to keep over the last two decades. Perhaps these are the ideals and values for which we need to renew our subscription’
Paul McDonough in a closing editorial comment made in 2003 in response to a letter he had published in Fertility and Sterility (2003;80:677–678)
Prof. Len F. Blackwell