The International IVF Initiative - i3


International IVF Initiative




The webinar was dedicated to the practice of blastocyst biopsy with experienced biopsy practitioners as moderators (Thomas Elliott and Dr. Tony Anderson) and speakers (Debbie Venier, Dr. Charlene Alouf and Dr. Bec Holmes) highlighting the practicalities when performing this delicate technique in the routine IVF lab; giving valuable advice on the methods, trouble shooting and tips. The webinar included a more junior embryologist as a panelist (Mariana Cadavid) who described the experience of learning to biopsy through an intensive training course.
Debbie Venier, a highly qualified senior embryologist and instructor spoke on “Embryo biopsy techniques”. This masterclass of embryo biopsy methods gave extensive insight through videos and commentary showing the various ways that a blastocyst biopsy can be performed and prepared for. She gave troubleshooting advice and step by step instructions on the micromanipulation of the blastocyst. Her students were also shown learning to trophectoderm biopsy.
Dr. Charlene Alouf gave an impressive talk with unique insight through many publications on whether to Biopsy or re-biopsy following vitrification. She highlighted many studies including her own experience and thoughts on non-actionable PGT results,
There was also a poll put to the delegates on their experiences and pregnancy rates following re-biopsy.
Finally, Dr. Bec Holmes presented how to reduce errors in the lab and described the “Opportunities for errors" that exist while performing and tubing during embryo biopsy protocols. She discussed the chain of custody and witness step that need to be employed when preparing, performing and segregating samples for genetic analysis in PGT cases. Bec spoke of ways of reducing errors and non-conformities in the lab using the latest scanning and electronic assignment systems.
The session concluded with an extensive Questions and Answers section that invited questions from the audience to participate which including all presenters and moderators discussing all aspects of the talks especially practical points to improve performance of biopsy practitioners.

Thomas Elliott and Dr. Tony Anderson
with Dr. Peter Nagy and Mariana Cadavid

Debbie Venier “Embryo biopsy techniques”

Dr. Charlene Alouf “Biopsy or re-biopsy following vitrification – a chilling circumstance”

Dr. Bec Holmes " “Opportunities for errors" in the embryo biopsy procedure"
A talk sponsored by IMT Matcher

Q and A


Thomas Elliott is a clinical embryologist at Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta, USA. Prior to this he worked at the Oxford Fertility Unit, UK. He established the reproductive science resource website in 1997, and at the same time, together with Dr. Kay Elder, pioneered scientific online meetings with a series of online line conferences entitled “World Wide Conferences on Reproductive Biology”. Thomas is part of the IVF Store team and acts as technical and scientific advisor. Thomas is also the inventor and President of CryoSentinel, a thermographic monitoring system for cryogenic storage units. Thomas is a founding member of the International IVF Initiative.


Dr. Tony Anderson completed his Masters in Clinical Embryology studies at Leeds University, Leeds England under the direction of Professor Alan Handyside and Helen Picton. Tony’s studies focused on cryopreservation and non-invasive methods of predicting euploidy in early embryos. Tony completed his doctoral studies at a Nova Southeastern University, a private university in South Florida.
His studies included comparison of cryopreservation methods of oocytes and pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) of embryos for optimized outcomes.
Founder of IVF ACADEMY USA and Embryo Director IVF Academy


Dr. Nagy is the Scientific and Laboratory Director at Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA), in Atlanta, USA (since 2002). He obtained his MD (1986) and his Ob&Gyn specialty degrees (1996) at the Semmelweis Medical University in Budapest. He obtained his PhD at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) in 1997 on development of ICSI procedure. Dr. Nagy has acquired a distinctive knowledge and experience on embryo science, including novel viability assessment methods. He has also investigated the basic and clinical aspects of cryopreservation and, developed with his team a highly efficient, proprietary protocol in 2006 for oocyte vitrification that has contributed to the development of “My Egg Bank”, the first vitrification based and of the largest donor oocyte cryo-bank in North- America.
Dr. Nagy is member of several national and international professional societies, including ASRM, ESHRE, Alpha. He is also board member of the International Society for Fertility Preservation (ISFP) and of the Alliance for Fertility Preservation (AFP) and past Chair of Alpha Scientist in Reproductive Medicine (ALPHA). Dr. Nagy is a reviewer of several medical journals, and currently he is section editor of RBMonline, past Section Editor of Human Reproduction. He has been an invited speaker in several hundreds of meeting/congresses in over 50 countries across the world. Dr. Nagy is author or co-author of over 200 publications, including several dozens of book chapters and five books.


Mariana received her BSc in Biology with a minor in psychology from Kennesaw State University. Although not sure of her career path, she always knew she was interested in reproductive medicine. She later went on to receive her MSc in Reproductive Clinical Science from Eastern Virginia Medical school. At EVMS, she completed her thesis on the topic of re-biopsy of no result embryos. Mariana is currently a Clinical Embryologist at Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta where she started as an intern while finishing her undergraduate degree. Mariana really enjoys interacting with patients and giving them insights during their fertility journey. Every day is different and there is no greater feeling than knowing she has made a difference


Dr. Alouf was awarded her doctoral degree from Albany Medical College, Albany, New York; her research involved the study of follicular regulatory factors within the ovary. Charlene completed a dual fellowship in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pathology at the Albany Medical Center Hospital.
Charlene is licensed both in New York State and in New Jersey. Currently she is the Laboratory Director at the Reproductive Science Center of New Jersey and South Jersey Fertility Center, and is also a consultant at Island Fertility. Charlene recently joined Genomic Prediction as the Medical Science Liaison.
Dr. Alouf is a member of numerous professional societies including ASRM, SRBT, CRB, ESHRE and the New York Metropolitan Embryology Society. She recently cofounded the PEARLS society in Philadelphia and is President Elect of the College of Reproductive Biology. Charlene has co-authored many peer-reviewed publications and reproductive textbook chapters and is an ad hoc reviewer for JARG and Fertility and Sterility. Additionally, she holds two Masters of Science degrees and recently completed her MBA at the University of Delaware.
Charlene enjoys time with her family, cars and coffee and all things Porsche – especially the track.


Rebecca “Bec” Holmes, DPhil, HCDL is the Senior Vice President of Lab Operations for the CCRM network. She is responsible for protocol/procedure implementation, as well aiding in staff training and ongoing quality control monitoring for the network embryology, andrology and endocrinology laboratories.

Originally from England Dr Holmes obtained her BSc at Brunel University and her D. Phil in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford where she studied epigenetics. She completed her postdoctoral studies at Cornell University. After completing embryology training in the Boston area she went on to become Technical Director of IVF at Brigham and Women’s Hospital before helping establish the Boston CCRM laboratory and now directing multiple labs within the CCRM network. She has given regional, national and international invited lectures on various topics related to the IVF laboratory, contributed to numerous peer-reviewed articles and runs an embryology society meeting in the New England area.
Patients facing the woes of infertility are desperately in need of researchers who can help them navigate the biological, technical, and emotional challenges of their effort to have a baby. Dr Holmes receives an immense amount of joy for being able to make this happen for thousands of people.

A talk sponsored by IMT Matcher


Debbie Venier graduated from UC Davis with a BS in Animal Science and a Master’s in Reproductive Physiology. She started her career as a clinical embryologist in 1994 at Nashville Fertility Center. Subsequently, Debbie started the undergraduate embryology program at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. After teaching applied embryology for 10 years, she has placed over 37 clinical embryologists into the field. Her revolutionary course and training program still exists today at Cal Poly. She returned to clinical embryology 12 years ago in San Diego serving as the Laboratory Supervisor at La Jolla IVF and is currently a consulting embryologist. Her passion and skill lie in teaching embryology and training the next generation. Debbie has been training embryologists in biopsy and ICSI techniques over the last 10 years all over the world. She has been an invited speaker and trainer for many companies and organizations. She is also a board member for the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society (PCRS), and a committee member for the college of reproductive biology (CRB).

Debbie co-founded WEST (World Embryology Skills and Training Center) with her husband, Bill to recruit new embryologists to the field and accelerate the training of junior embryologists who are looking to increase their skill level. She is currently training embryologists full-time at WEST to help fill the demand for embryologists. When looking for an international expert trainer with the record and reputation to support it, Debbie is the best person to ensure success in her trainees.

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