Course Date: April 30 – June 12, 2016
Deadline: January 13, 2016 | Apply here
Lead Director: Mario Ascoli, University of Iowa
Directors: Dan Bernard, McGill University; Rafael Fissore, University of Massachusetts; Barry Hinton, University of Virginia; Lawrence Reynolds, North Dakota State University; and Carmen Williams, NIH/NIEHS
An intensive six-week laboratory and lecture course designed for advanced graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, newly independent scientists and physicians who seek training in modern state-of-the-art methods and a broad view of current concepts in all areas of reproductive biology.
The FIR course is divided into three sections of two weeks’ duration and covers the following broad themes:
Section 1 – Reproductive endocrinology focused on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis.
Section 2 – Gametogenesis, fertilization, cloning, and stem cells.
Section 3 –Implantation, development of the reproductive tract and transgenesis.
Each section consists of lectures from faculty and world-renowned scientists in the field of reproductive science. Discussions, informal seminars, laboratory exercises, demonstrations, and one-on-one tutorials comprise a typical day in the FIR course.
Section 1 emphasizes signal transduction and gene regulation in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Lectures cover physiologic to molecular actions of peptide, protein and steroid hormones and the intracellular signaling, transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene regulatory mechanisms that drive reproductive biology. Section 1 laboratories teach methods key to studying hormone action and cell biology. Techniques include quantification of second messengers and transcriptional activity; cell culture and transient transfection; western blot analysis; ELISAs; quantitative RT-PCR; gene silencing; chromatin immunoprecipitation; immunofluorescence and in situ hybridization; mutagenesis; tissue dissection; and exosome isolation and characterization.
Section 2 is focused on gametogenesis, fertilization, cloning, and stem cells. The lectures focus on germline stem cells and their differentiation into functional gametes through the process of spermatogenesis and folliculogenesis, maturation of gametes and acquisition of fertilization and developmental competence, sperm-egg interaction, egg activation and initiation of embryo development. Epigenetic mechanisms are examined, including imprinting, and developmental plasticity. Additional lectures explore environmental causes of infertility, the genetic basis of infertility, including animal models and assisted reproductive technologies used in the clinic. Ethical issues concerning the use of technology in human reproduction are also discussed. The labs in Section 2 focus on stem cell transplantation and meiotic staging of germ cells, follicular culture and in vitro techniques related to maturation of oocytes, fertilization of various animal models, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and other micromanipulation procedures with oocytes, eggs and embryos. Principles of microscopy and imaging methods are also discussed and applied.
Section 3 covers implantation, development of the reproductive tract and transgenesis. The Lectures cover transgenic technology including microinjection, stem cells, gene editing, and embryo transfer; development of the male and female reproductive tracts and gonads; maternal-fetal interactions including implantation, uterine decidualization, and comparative placentation; placental function; and immunological adaptations to pregnancy. Additional lectures cover topics of clinical relevance to the reproductive tract, such as implantation failure including metabolic consequences, endometriosis, placental microbiome, and mechanisms of preterm delivery. The labs in Section 3 focus on techniques associated with the lecture topics, including generation and characterization of transgenic embryos, analysis of the reproductive microbiome, as well as use of laser capture microdissection, in vitro models including cell and organ culture, flow cytometry, and reporter assays to evaluate function of the reproductive tract.
Spread throughout the course are discussions on professional development such as publishing, grant preparation and review, and ethics. The Frontiers in Reproduction course concludes with a two-day symposium featuring seminars by distinguished speakers and short research presentations by current and previous participants.
This course is supported with funds provided by:
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Society for the Study of Reproduction (Anita Payne Scholarship)
The American Society for Cell Biology
March of Dimes
Substantial financial aid is available to admitted applicants regardless of nationality. Scholarships are based on need and may cover the majority of course and travel costs.
2015 Faculty & Lecturers
Daniel A. Dumesic
Stephen R Hammes
Kenneth S. Korach
Joy L. Pate
Joanne S Richards
Mark S. Roberson
Jacques J. Tremblay