Dr. Stephanie Kuku, Dr. Andrew Drakeley, Matt Pettit
Dr. Denny Sakkas "Modernizing embryo handling and culture"
Dr. Christine Allen "Vitrification-automation"
Dr. Santiago Munne “Robotic ICSI”
Karol Kujawa “The minority report in the IVF lab”
Q and A
Synopsis: Description: International IVF Initiative(I3)- Online Session 120 : Crossover [150 minutes] Date: Tuesday, 20th June (3 pm EST / 8 pm UK / 9 pm CET)
The webinar about automation, robotics, and extended reality in the IVF Lab focused on experts who have made significant contributions and published in these areas of interest. Moderating the webinar were renowned figures from the fertility sector consultant gynaecologists and entrepreneurs, Dr. Stephanie Kuku and Dr. Andrew Drakeley with technology expert Matt Pettit.
Esteemed scientists in the field of IVF presented their research and insights during the webinar. Dr. Denny Sakkas discussed the topic of "Modernizing Embryo Handling and Culture," shedding light on innovative techniques and advancements in this area. Dr. Christine Allen's presentation focused on the automation of the vitrification process for oocytes and embryos, providing a comprehensive review of the benefits and advancements in this field. Dr. Santiago Munne, in his presentation titled "Robotic ICSI," shared the findings and implications of a recent publication on the automated ICSI procedure known as ICSIA. The webinar also featured a talk by Karol Kujawa, a computer vision expert, who demonstrated practical examples of augmented and mixed reality, showcasing their applicability in the present day. This session provided valuable insights into how extended reality technologies can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of lab processes. Following the presentations, the audience had the opportunity to engage in a Q&A session, where they could ask questions to the panel of experts. This interactive segment allowed participants to seek clarification, delve deeper into the topics discussed, and gain a more comprehensive understanding of automation, robotics, and extended reality in the IVF lab.
DR. STEPHANIE KUKU
Stephanie is executive VP for scientific affairs at Conceivable Life Sciences. Trained OBGYN specializing in women’s cancers. She was awarded a Doctorate in Clinical Research at UCL (Oncology) where she remains an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Women’s Health.
Board Trustee and Investment Committee of The King’s Fund.
More recently, Stephanie has served as Senior Advisor and consultant in Clinical AI/Medical devices at the World Health Organization’s Department of Digital Health & Innovation. As a senior consultant for a leading consultancy (Hardian Health) in digital health and artificial intelligence, has led deep due diligence and clinical/scientific validation of technology for over 50 AI & Deeptech startups at the intersection of scientific, product, regulatory and go-to-market strategy.
DR. ANDREW DRAKELEY
Andrew Drakeley has been working full time in assisted reproduction at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust since 2005, and was the clinical director from 2016-21. Vice Chair RCOG Subspecialty Committee 2019-23 and became a clinical subspecialty training assessor for ESHRE in 2022. Still maintains an active research portfolio including the use of AI in ART, sperm DNA damage and is a co-applicant on several multicentre randomised trials including STOP-OHSS and LOCI. He is chair of the board at IVF2.0.
Matt is Chief Scientific Officer for Matcher Technologies Ltd, responsible for development and implementation of ‘Matcher’, a barcode-based electronic witnessing, labelling, scheduling and traceability system with interactive dashboards for visualisation, analysis and reporting of Matcher data Insights. Since gaining a degree in Biology at the University of Wales in 1990, Matt has always worked in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technology, including roles managing laboratories, R&D and quality control at the UK’s leading bovine breeding companies and cryo-storage facilities. Matt’s primary focus is now on developing simple-to-implement, practical solutions to error prevention, traceability and cryo-stores management in human IVF clinics, donor banks and genetics Labs. This role involves designing systems that can be easily integrated and fitted around existing SOPs and advising on the validation required for electronic witnessing systems. Matt is also a Trustee and scientific advisor to ‘Nature’s Safe’, a new initiative working in collaboration with the world’s zoos for the long-term storage of live cells from animal species that are at the greatest risk of extinction.
DR. CHRISTINE ALLEN
Dr. Christine Allen is a certified embryologist and andrologist who has traveled the world developing and teaching leading edge vitrification and lab automation technologies, building IVF clinics and implementing new technologies as state-of-art egg banking, non-invasive PGTA and data analytics for success improvement. Christine’s research in cryopreservation, vitrification techniques and fertilization has been published in several leading industry journals and she has presented her findings at ASRM, ESHRE and American Board of Bioanalysts (ABB) among others. She has a proven track record of the direct implementation of embroyology lab management, quality control procedures, andrology testing, outside clinician consulting and is an expert in US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), American Association of Bioanalysts AAB and ASRM laboratory standards. She is also fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian, directing labs around the world in their native languages.
DR. SANTIAGO MUNNE
In 1993 he developed the first Preimplantation Genetic Test for Aneuploidy (PGT-A). As PGT director of IRMS-Saint Barnabas he developed PGT for translocations (1996, SART prize), and demonstrated that PGT-A reduces miscarriages and increases implantation rates (1998 SART prize). He is adjunct professor at Yale University Ob/Gyn Dept., published >260 scientific publications, received SART and ASRM prize papers, and the ASRM Star Award consecutively for 2011-2020.
In 2001 founded Reprogenetics with Jacques Cohen and David Sable, and as its CEO Reprogenetics became the first commercial US PGT laboratory, performing over 100K procedures In 2017 he joined Martin Varsavsky and Joson Horcajadas to co-found Overture Life, a company focused on automating the IVF Laboratory. He serves in several BOAs and BODs of private companies.
DR. DENNY SAKKAS
Dr. Denny Sakkas received his undergraduate training at the University of Melbourne, Australia and received his Doctorate of Philosophy at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Sakkas has been the Laboratory Director of IVF units in Switzerland and England and has aided numerous groups in establishing their own IVF units around the world. He has extensive experience in clinical IVF and reproductive research. He is internationally recognized, having organized conferences and workshops on reproduction related topics, and is frequently invited as a speaker at major conferences worldwide. He has published more than 200 manuscripts and chapters in the field of fertilization, early embryo development and male infertility. He serves on the Editorial Board of leading journals and has been extensively funded in his career, He leads a productive research team investigating many aspects of basic and translational reproductive biology.
Dr Sakkas is Chief Scientific Officer at Boston IVF and consults to a number of clinics and startup companies in the area of IVF. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Previous and current positions include; Chief Scientific Officer at Molecular Biometrics Inc.; Associate Professor at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine ; Director of Assisted Reproductive Treatment Laboratories of the Yale Fertility Center..
In his professional career, Karol serves as an XR (Extended Realities) lecturer in the Department of Game Research and Media Prosumption at Kazimierz Wielki University. He holds a background in English philology and has gained extensive experience as the Head of Programs and Projects within the After Market Services and IT industry, focusing on VR, AR, MR, ML, and CV. Since 2021, he has assumed the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and a Member of the Board at Holo4Labs, a specialized company dedicated to implementing Mixed Reality solutions in the bigpharma industry. At Holo4Labs, they primarily focus on utilizing computer vision algorithms to develop and deploy cutting-edge solutions. In the year 2021, he was actively involved in the co-creation of proposals for the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR). Specifically, he contributed to the development of the AI VISION system, which aims to monitor and detect individuals with specific disease symptoms in dynamic environments using augmented reality technology. In 2016, Karol became an entrepreneur and founded “The Unreal VR”, one of the first virtual reality salons in Poland. This venture aimed to provide immersive virtual reality experiences to customers. In 2019, he co-authored a proposal titled "Disaster risk management practices informed by better understood individual and social perceptions of risk" (SPECTRA Project) under the Horizon Europe program. This proposal aimed to enhance disaster risk management through a deeper understanding of individual and social risk perceptions. Since 2014, he has been an advocate for extended realities (XR), including both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). They possess a particular interest in artificial intelligence (AI), with a focus on machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and computer vision (CV).
Starting in 2000, he has been actively involved in the gaming industry out of pure passion. HE co-founded the Game Jams in Bydgoszcz from 2017 to 2019, fostering collaboration and creativity among game developers.
Karol has also served as a co-author and consultant for numerous R&D funding proposals, particularly in the field of AR/VR products, spanning both the gaming and educational sectors. Additionally, authored various popular science and industry publications, and he continues to engage in collaborations with technical and scientific portals.