The International IVF Initiative - i3

Session 94: Misconceptions

International IVF Initiative

Session 94: Misconceptions

Session 94: Misconceptions

Tuesday, 10th May at 3pm EST, 8pm UK, 9pm CET


Dr. Liesl Nel-Themaat and Dr. Sourima Biswas Shivhare


Dr. Don Rieger- Oddities in Reproductive Biology

Dr. Sourima Biswas Shivhare- A little Less Eurocentric, Modestly Universal View of the History of Embryology

Dr. Shubhangi Gangal - The Story of Subhash Mukhopadhyay

Panel discussion and Q and A


Liesl Nel-Themaat, Ph.D., HCLD, is a certified High-complexity Clinical Laboratory Director and Technical Supervisor with a specialty in Embryology by the American Board of Bioanalysis.
She earned her undergraduate degree in agriculture (physiology and biochemistry) from the University of Stellenbosch. As her next move, Dr. Nel-Themaat left her native South Africa to pursue her Doctor of Philosophy in animal reproductive physiology from Louisiana State University. During her Doctoral studies, Dr. Nel-Themaat was a Graduate Research Assistant for the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species where she worked in assisted reproductive technologies in various exotic species. Her research included intergeneric nuclear transfer cloning for use in conservation and she managed the Frozen Zoo biomaterials resource bank, a collection of cell lines from endangered species as an insurance against extinction. After graduating with her Ph.D., Dr. Nel-Themaat did a postdoctoral fellowship and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, where she continued her studies of the reproductive system using transgenic animal models.
All her zoology-based groundwork laid the foundation for Dr. Nel-Themaat’s expertise in embryology, andrology, and endocrinology. Since joining the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine in 2017, she has not only been a key player in all lab activities, but also participates as faculty for the REI Fellowship Program.
Over the course of her career, Dr. Nel-Themaat has contributed to dozens of professional publications, covering topics such as development of new technologies for use in the reproductive lab, cryopreservation of sperm, embryos and eggs, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and diminished ovarian reserve. She is an active member of professional organizations including the American Board of Bioanalysis (ABB), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Colorado Association of Reproductive Technologists, College of Reproductive Biologists (CRB), and the Society of  Reproductive Biologists and Technologists where she is the president. Dr. Nel-Themaat is among the founding members of the International IVF Initiative (i3), a non-profit global educational project for the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) community.
Today, Dr. Nel-Themaat is the IVF Lab Director for SGF Colorado. When she is not overseeing the labs, you can find Dr. Nel-Themaat outdoors running, snowboarding, mountain biking, and scuba diving. She has also recently completed her Executive MBA.


Sourima is a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered Senior Clinical Embryologist, working at The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health, London. She is also a lecturer and external assessor on the MSc in Clinical Embryology (University of Oxford).

Originally from Kolkata, India, her academic career began with a BSc (Hons) in Human Genetics (Newcastle University), followed by an MSc in Clinical Embryology (University of Oxford), PhD in Reproductive and Vascular Biology (Newcastle University), and a short postdoc at the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry in Munich. Her research interest includes preimplantation human embryo development, embryo endometrial cross-talk, many of which she has presented on, at national and international conferences and published in a number of peer-reviewed journals.

In her spare time, Sourima enjoys quilling and perhaps, also, tormenting her daughter with embryology.


Don Rieger completed his B.Sc. (1977) Ph.D. (1982), both at the University of Saskatchewan. He then moved to the CRRA, Université de Montréal, as post-doctoral fellow, and then as chercheur adjoint, where he studied the energy metabolism of individual pre-implantation embryos, and the peri-ovulatory endocrinology of superovulation. In 1988, he moved to ABEL, University of Guelph as an Assistant Professor (Research). He has been an invited scientist at the Università degli Studi di Milano, AgResearch (New Zealand), University College Dublin, Université Catholique de Louvain, University of Melbourne, University of Wisconsin, and INRA, Nouzilly.

In 2003, he joined LifeGlobal LLC, as Director of Research, and then as Vice-president, Research and Development until retiring in 2018. He oversaw the research, development, and evaluation of media and other products for human ART.

He was the organizer of the ICAR Workshop on Diagnostic Tools for Gametes and Embryos, member of the Program Advisory Committee, CIHR Training Program in Reproduction, Early Development, and the Impact on Health, invited contributor to the report of the Canadian Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, and founder of Embryo-Mail.

Don is now a consultant in Reproductive Biology.


Dr. Shubhangi Gangal has been a practicing embryologist since 2003 in India and is currently working for the Centre for Reproduction and Gynaecology Wales, UK. Shubhangi has a Masters in Science and a PhD from the University of Mumbai, and has a special interest in ICSI, Biopsies and Vitrification. She has authored several chapters in books on Embryology and presented papers and posters at national conferences in India. She has also been an active participant in the international IVF community, having visited and trained at IVF facilities in Singapore in 2005 and Italy in 2007. She also holds a valid Healthcare Professional Registration Certification to practice Embryology from Dubai Health Authority. For the past decade of her career, Shubhangi has trained and mentored several young embryologists from India and overseas, and was also awarded the Top 100 Women Achievers Award by Medlife Asia Healthcare Group in 2021.



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