The International IVF Initiative - i3

Session 56: The Mitochondriacs

International IVF Initiative

Session 56: The Mitochondriacs
Session 56: The Mitochondriacs
Session 56: The Mitochondriacs
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Session 56: The Mitochondriacs

Tuesday 23th March, 2021. 3PM EST/ 7PM GMT / 8PM CET 

Professor Eli Y. Adashi
Dr. Jacques Cohen

"The Role of Mitochondria and Mitochondrial DNA in Reproduction"  
Professor Jus St. John 

"Reproductive Choice for mtDNA Disease"  
Professor Bert Smeets 


Professor Jus St. John leads the Mitochondrial Genetics Group at the Robinson Research Institute, the University of Adelaide. His research focuses on understanding how mitochondrial DNA is transmitted and replicated. Using a variety of assisted reproductive technologies and embryonic stem cell models, he has described mitochondrial DNA replication events in oocytes, embryos and undifferentiated and differentiating embryonic stem cells and shown why they are important to developmental outcome. Additionally, he has shown how mitochondrial DNA copy number is regulated in a cell-specific manner by DNA methylation of the nuclear-encoded mitochondrial DNA-specific polymerase; and how mtDNA haplotypes influence chromosomal gene expression patterns. He is currently developing pig models of autologous mitochondrial DNA supplementation to enhance developmental outcomes; and reproductive strategies to prevent the transmission of mutant mitochondrial DNA from one generation to the next. He has published in The Lancet, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Cell Biology, Nucleic Acids Research, Stem Cells, Cell Death and Differentiation, Journal of Cell Science, and Genetics. In 2013, he received the Society for Reproductive Biology’s Award for Excellence in Reproductive Biology Research.


Bert (Hubert) Smeets, PhD, is Professor in Clinical Genomics with focus on Mitochondrial Diseases. He is an internationally distinguished clinical molecular geneticist. Bert studied Molecular Biology at the University of Nijmegen, where he did a PhD on myotonic dystrophy. For 10 years he worked in Nijmegen, and since 1995 at Maastricht University, where he became Professor in 2010, combining research with DNA-diagnostics. His research initially focused on inherited neuromuscular and kidney diseases, but later concentrated on the genomics of mitochondrial disorders. His research involves identifying genetic defects by next-generation sequencing, studying the pathophysiology and mtDNA bottleneck mechanism in cell lines, iPSC and zebrafish models, developing new treatment options (compounds or autologous stem cells) and preventing the transmission of mitochondrial diseases, either by prenatal diagnosis, preimplantation genetic diagnosis or whole exome preconception screening. His research is funded by national and international funding agencies and he published over 210 original research articles, reviews and book chapters.


Eli Y. Adashi, MD, MS, CPE, FACOG: The former (5th) Dean of Medicine @ Biological Sciences at Brown University, Dr. Adashi, is a graduate of Tel Aviv University School of Medicine and of the Harvard School of Public Health. A former president of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinologists, the Society for Gynecologic Investigation, and the American Gynecological & Obstetrical Society, Dr. Adashi also served as Examiner & Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology of the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
A member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Association of American Physicians, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the New York Academy of Sciences, Dr. Adashi is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ad eundem), and the Hastings Center. The recipient of several honorary degrees, Dr. Adashi is also an Honorary Member of the European Society of Human Reproduction & Embryology and of the International Federation of Fertility Societies.


Jacques Cohen is a reproductive biologist, laboratory product developer and high complexity laboratory director (HCLD). He is director and founder of the ART Institute of Washington, which runs the joint National Institute of Health and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center IVF program in Bethesda Maryland (USA). He is product developer and co-founder of IVFqc/Althea Science, which develops software solutions for laboratories and clinics. He was co-founder of Reprogenetics, a PGD service, now continuing as Cooper Genomics. He was a co-founder and product developer of Life-Global/IVF-Online. He has (co-)authored more than 300 publications, several textbooks and 12 patents. He is Emeritus Chief Editor of Reproductive Biomedicine Online. He was one of the founders of Alpha – Scientists in Reproductive Medicine and one of the founders of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis International Society - PGDIS. He is a founding member of the International IVF Initiative.
Jacques Cohen was born in The Hague, The Netherlands and graduated in Biology of Reproductive Science in 1978 at Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands. He has a Ph.D. from Erasmus University in Rotterdam (supervisor Prof. Gerard Zeilmaker), in aspects of in vitro fertilization and male factor infertility. His postdoctoral studies (1982-1985) were performed at Cambridge University (UK) and Bourn Hall Clinic (supervisor Prof Robert Edwards). Jacques Cohen has (co-)developed a number of embryological methodologies and devices: blastocyst cryopreservation, assisted fertilization, assisted hatching, preimplantation genetic testing, ooplasmic donation, single sperm freezing, CODA filtration, Global media, and GPS dishes. He currently serves on Advisory Boards of biotech startups TMRW, Kindbody, DADI and Phosphorus. 

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