Frontiers in Reproduction


Course Date: April 29 – June 11, 2017

Deadline: January 11, 2017 | Apply here

2016 Schedules: Section 1; Section 2; Section 3

FIR Course Website

Lead Director: Mario Ascoli, University of Iowa
Directors: Dan Bernard, McGill University; Barry Hinton, University of Virginia; 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 – Signal Transduction and Gene Regulation in the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis (Dan Bernard, Section Director)

Section 2 – Stem cells, gametogenesis, fertilization, and preimplantation embryo development (Carmen Williams, Section Director)

Section 3 – Development and functions of the male and female reproductive tracts (Barry Hinton, Section Director)

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 as well as the 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.

Section 2 is focused on stem cells, gametogenesis, fertilization, and preimplantation embryo development. The lectures focus on germline stem cells and their differentiation into functional gametes through the processes of spermatogenesis and folliculogenesis, maturation of gametes and acquisition of fertilization and developmental competence, sperm-egg interaction, egg activation and preimplantation embryo development. Epigenetic mechanisms are examined, including discussion of imprinting and transgenerational inheritance. Additional lectures explore how the environment impacts reproduction, 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, sperm physiology, fertilization of various animal models, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and other micromanipulation procedures. Principles of microscopy and imaging methods are also discussed and applied.

Section 3 focuses on the examination of the developing and adult male and female reproductive tracts under normal and pathological conditions. 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, 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, prostate cancer and functions of the oviduct. The use of non-traditional species in advancing reproductive sciences such as domestic animals, wild animals andDrosophila melanogaster will be discussed. The labs in Section 3 focus on techniques associated with the lecture topics, including generation and characterization of transgenic embryos, the 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

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.

2016 Faculty & Lecturers

Section 1:

Richard Auchus
Ravi Balasubramanian
Lane Christenson
Buffy Ellsworth
Stephen R Hammes
Kenneth S. Korach
Jon Levine
Alejandro Lomniczi
Kelly Mayo
Sue Moenter
Joanne S Richards
Emilie Rissman
Mark S. Roberson
Jacques J. Tremblay
Will Walker

Section 2:

Marisa Bartolomei
Antonio Giraldez
Chris Geyer
David Carroll
Dieter Egli
Dolores Lamb
Francesca Duncan
Francoise Baylis
Gustavo Blanco
Harvey Florman
Ina Dobrinski
Jesse Mager
Jim McIlvaine
Jose Cibelli
Karen Schindler
Kyle Orwig
Laurinda Jaffe
Lisa Mehlmann
Paolo Rinaudo
Paula Cohen
Paula Stein
Polina Lishko
Sylvie Breton

Section 3:

Aagard, Kjresti
Borowicz, Pawel
Conley, Alan
DeMayo, Franco
Fazleabas, Asgi
Hinton, Barry
Johnson, Greg
Jorgensen, Joan
Muglia, Louis
Norwitz, Errol
Parast, Mana
Petroff, Peggy
Prins, Gail
Spencer, Tom
Wildt, David