The International IVF Initiative - i3

Session 113 : EMBRYOLOG

International IVF Initiative

Session 113 : EMBRYOLOG

Session 113 : EMBRYOLOG

Tuesday, 28th March (3 pm EST / 8 pm UK / 9 pm CET)



Description: International IVF Initiative(I3)- Online Session 113 : EMBRYOLOG [112 minutes]
Tuesday, 28th March (3 pm EST / 7 pm UK / 8 pm CET)

Renowned experts from the Nordic countries congregated to unravel the intricacies of assisted reproduction in the region. Dr. Sirpa Mäkinen from Finland and Dr. Julius Hreinsson from Sweden skillfully moderated the event, while a distinguished panel of experts, including Helle Bendtsen from Denmark, Steinunn Thorsteinsdottir from Iceland, and Shabana Sayed from Norway, provided valuable perspectives.

The webinar commenced with Dr. Sanna Vuoristo from Finland, who presented her groundbreaking research titled "Small RNA Expression and Micro-RNA Modifications During Human Maternal-to-Zygotic Transition." Delving into the complexities of this critical period, Dr. Vuoristo shed light on the expression of small RNA molecules and micro-RNA modifications, unraveling their significance during the maternal-to-zygotic transition.
Dr. Jukka Kekäläinen, also from Finland, took the virtual stage to discuss "Reproductive Failure - A Pathological Condition or Selection Against Genetic Incompatibility?" His presentation explored the nuanced interplay between reproductive failure and genetic incompatibility, examining whether it can be categorized as a pathological condition or a natural process of genetic selection.
Next, Dr. Randa Akouri from Sweden captivated the audience with her talk on "In-Vitro Perfusion System and the Development of Uterus Transplantation." Dr. Akouri presented the cutting-edge advancements made in developing an in-vitro perfusion system and the progress achieved in the field of uterus transplantation. Her insights shed light on the latest breakthroughs and the potential future implications of this groundbreaking technology.
The webinar provided a comprehensive overview of assisted reproduction in the Nordic countries, showcasing the region's scientific prowess, research contributions, and innovative practices. It fostered a dynamic exchange of ideas, allowing participants to gain deeper insights into the intricacies of assisted reproduction and its impact on maternal and fetal health.
The collaboration between esteemed moderators, panelists, and presenters resulted in a thought-provoking and informative event, promoting a better understanding of assisted reproduction in the Nordic countries and its potential for advancing reproductive medicine on a global scale.
After the presentations followed an extensive questions and answers section that invited questions from the audience to participate with all presenters and moderators.


Sirpa has  worked for over 25 years as a clinical embryologist in the field of ART and for the last 14 years as a Laboratory Manager/Director, being responsible of the all aspects of the IVF laboratory from the developmental work to the quality management and clinical research. She graduated (thesis in Genetics) from Faculty of Biosciences in University of Helsinki in 1995 and later worked in the research group in the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden between 1990-2000.
Sirpa currently works as Director of Laboratory Development at a private IVF -clinic in Helsinki.
Dr Makinen has been active in professional societies, currently a board member of Nordic Fertility Society and a chair of the Nordic IVF Laboratory Society (NILS) the Finnish representative in Committee of National representatives (CNR) of ESHRE and a member of the ESHRE Embryology Certification Committee (EmCC) since 2016. She is also a ESHRE certified Senior Clinical Embryologist.


Julius is the IVF-Laboratory Director at the Department of Reproductive Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden. He has been active in the field for over 30 years, starting his career as a clinical embryologist in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1991. He is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

Julius has a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Iceland, a Master’s degree in Management of International Business from Uppsala University and a PhD in Medical Science from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. He was one of the first to receive the ESHRE certification as Senior Clinical Embryologist in 2008.

Since early on in his career, Julius has been active in national and international societies. He has combined clinical work, consulting and laboratory auditing with research, having published 35+ research articles as well as numerous book chapters and one co-edited textbook. He is passionate about improving laboratory processes and implementing new techniques.


Helle have more than 30 years' hands-on experience with human gametes and embryos in an Assisted Reproduction lab., experience as lab director and fertility clinic and lab - set up. She has been working as a ESHRE Certified Embryologist from 1991 to 2018 at Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitale DK, Laboratory Director and ESHRE Certificated Embryologist at the fertility clinic Aleris, aug. 2018 - jun. 2022 ·
She has been active in ESHRE since 2008, where she has been sitting on the Executive Board of ESHRE as chairman of the Paramedical Group, been part of the Scientific committee, arranged a big number of ESHRE Campus and workshops, been on the advisory committee of the ESHRE Nurse and Midwives Certification. Now she also is a member of Nordic IVF Laboratory Society (NILS) board, where she together with all the other board members will arrange meetings and hands-on workshops for the Nordic members.
In her work at Cryos International she will support development and continuous improvements to ensure high quality laboratory procedures, technologies, and work methods in Cryos egg laboratories and support the effectiveness of Cryos’ quality management system in the egg laboratories in close collaboration with all her colleagues.
Helle will use her experience with human gametes and embryos in Assisted Reproduction laboratories assisting and participating in daily clinical laboratory procedures related to hands on operation of the embryology lab including donor contact, oocyte retrievals and cryopreservation procedures taking place at Cryos departments, in e.g., Cyprus and USA.
Together she will work for the safety and quality of donors and their gametes as well as the quality assurance of the Cryos International egg banks around the world.


Steinunn started working in IVF at the University Hospital Reykjavík IVF department 1998 - 2004.
Took part in establishing the first privately owned IVF clinic in Iceland ART Medica 2004-2016 and Co-founder and Lab Manager of Livio Reykjavik 2016. She is a Board Member of Nordic Fertility Society since 2018.



Shabana Sayed is the Laboratory Director and Senior Clinical Embryologist at Klinikk Hausken chain of IVF clinics in Norway. Her career in IVF started in the early 2000’s and she has been the Head of IVF labs at Klinikk Hausken since 2008. She also heads the Clinical and Research division of all 5 branches of Klinikk Hausken in Norway. With academic degrees in Molecular Biology from India, and specialization in Clinical Embryology from Australia's Monash University, her doctoral degree in clinical embryology is titled ‘Time-lapse imaging of human pre-implantation embryos: a predictive tool in the IVF Laboratory and clinical practice? Her doctoral thesis evaluates the role of early biomarkers in Time-lapse imaging of IVF embryos for predicting implantation and live births in IVF. 

She is the author of several peer-reviewed articles and has been contributing her knowledge and expertise through her presentations. She has also been instrumental in proposing International guidelines for annotations in Time-lapse imaging in IVF.


Dr. Vuoristo defended her PhD from the laboratory of Professor Timo Otonkoski, at the University of Helsinki, Finland in 2014. In 2015 she joined the laboratory of Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz at the University of Cambridge UK, where she coupled the morphological changes with cell fate decision in human embryos at the time of implantation. She then moved on to do her second postdoctoral period at the laboratory of Professor Juha Kere, at Karolinska Institutet, at Huddinge, Sweden, where she elucidated the functions of early embryonic transcription factor DUX4 in the embryonic genome activation process. In 2018 Dr. Vuoristo moved back to Finland and joined a collaborative project on early embryonic genes run, among others, by Professor Juha Tapanainen at the University of Helsinki. Dr Vuoristo became a principal investigator in 2019, and now runs her own laboratory at the Stem Cell and Metabolism research program, and at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Helsinki. She was recently awarded with the Academy of Finland Academy research fellowship, and with the Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences fellowship. Her research focuses on eludicating how non-coding genome and non-coding RNAs regulate early human development.



Assoc. prof. Jukka Kekäläinen is an evolutionary biologist, whose main research interest has been to clarify the mechanisms of post-mating sexual selection originally in animals and more recently in humans. One of the primary aims of his current research is to test the possibility that in addition to pathological conditions, infertility can also result from genetic incompatibility of the reproductive partners.



Randa Akouri is an associate professor and specialist in obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive medicine. Randa has several educations behind her, including biomedical analyst, biomedicine, medical degree, PhD in the field of uterus transplantation, specialist degree in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine and Associate Professor in the subject of obstetrics and gynecology.
Randa trained as a biomedical analyst and has worked for some years, in the early 90s, in the research laboratory at Sahlgrenska Hospital and in industry. She then educated in molecular biology and biotechnology and began a doctoral project in 2000 and defended her thesis on uterus transplantation in 2003. Randa succeeded in developing, among other things, a mouse model for uterus transplantation and with that model she was able to show pregnancies and live offspring from a transplanted uterus for the first time ever. This aroused great international interest. After defending her thesis, Randa continued as a Post Doc within the research group and was the only one who mastered the very difficult microsurgical method for transplantation of uterus in mouse model and was also involved in microsurgical operations on larger animal models such as rats, pigs, sheep and primates and was involved in the first human uterus transplants that took place at Sahlgrenska Hospital in 2012. Randa is still involved in uterine transplants on women at Sahlgrenska and in the Middle East where she has set up the technique together with her Swedish and Lebanese colleagues, to help women who need uterus transplantation in different countries in the Middle East, Turkey, and North Africa.
Randa is responsible for fertility preservation program in young cancer patients at the reproductive clinic at Sahlgrenska Hospital and runs several research projects in the area.


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