Lead for new MSc to give keynote lecture in Germany
Professor Chris Barratt, Head of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Dundee has been awarded the keynote Bob Edwards Memorial Lecture by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (EHSRE) to be delivered at its 30th Annual Meeting, to be held in in Munich, Germany from June 29th to July 1st.
This is a great accolade that recognises Dundee's pioneering work in assisted conception. Professor Barratt's lecture will focus on “The clinical significance of calcium-signalling pathways mediating human sperm hyperactivation”.
"This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the innovative translational research work we do in assisted conception in Dundee," said Professor Barratt. "Our tripartite collaboration between the NHS, Medical School and College of Life sciences is unique. In these experiments we were able to examine sperm from patients in great detail to investigate for the first time what may be going wrong. With this knowledge we are now able to design specific drugs to try and overcome the patients' infertility and provide hope to millions of infertile couples."
Another of the Dundee team, Consultant Gynaecologist and Honorary Senior Clinical Teacher in Reproductive Medicine Dr Sarah Martins Da Silva, will also present at ESHRE Munich meeting. Her talk is “can a patch fix it - electrophysiological studies of sperm and potential impact on clinical practice".
Infertility affects 1 in 7 couples and approx. 3.5 million people in the UK alone. Despite huge advancements in the understanding of reproduction, treatment and technology, there is still much that we do not know, particularly when it comes to how sperm swim and function, and the intricate details of events at fertilisation.
"We know that changes in calcium inside a sperm will affect its swimming behaviour and fertilising capability - but we cab now study these calcium responses, and a sperm-specific channel called CatSper, in the sperm tail, " explains Dr Martins da Silva. "The technique is called patch-clamping, and Dundee is one of only a handful of research labs worldwide that can study sperm this way, and the only one to use it to study patient samples. By looking at sperm from couples affected by fertilisation failure, where no eggs have fertilised at IVF or ICSI treatment, we have identified some unique defects in sperm calcium and potassium channels that are crucial for fertilisation. This is fantastically exciting because these discoveries not only explode our scientific understanding, but also present an opportunity to fix or bypass the problem, offering new hope for millions of infertile couples."
Professor Barrett - who is also a clinical scientist with the regional health board, NHS Tayside, at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School - is leading the University of Dundee's new MSc in Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception programme which has its first student intake in September 2014.
Students will benefit from the University’s close working relationship with the NHS with experienced embryologists, scientists and clinicians among the teaching faculty.
“Dundee offers cutting edge transformative opportunities for graduate study across the healthcare disciplines – as shown by our exciting new additions for this year including the MSC in Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception," said Professor David Bearn, Head of Learning and Teaching at the University's College of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing. "As Scotland's No.1 Medical School, Dundee is an excellent choice for those wishing to develop their knowledge and skills and become agents for transformational change."