The International IVF Initiative - i3

Session 68: Synthetic Embryology

International IVF Initiative

Session 68: Synthetic Embryology

Session 68: Synthetic Embryology

Tuesday 15th June, 2021. 3PM EST/ 8PM GMT / 9PM CET  

Moderators: Dr. Mina Popovic and Dr. Mina Alikani 


“Reconstructing Mammalian Early Embryogenesis In Vitro with Stem Cells”
Dr. Berna Sozen

“Modeling Human Blastocysts by Reprogramming Fibroblasts into iBlastoids”
Professor Jose Polo


Berna Sozen is Assistant Professor at the Department of Genetics, Yale School of Medicine and affiliated faculty of Yale Stem Cell Center. Dr. Sozen first trained as a Reproductive Biologist at Akdeniz University, Turkey and later Developmental Stem Cell Biologist at the University of Cambridge, UK. She then undertook her post-doctoral research first at Cambridge-UK, and later at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) during which she developed in vitro systems to model mammalian early embryogenesis using various types of stem cells, in Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz group. Her independent group is now studying how embryo-environment interactions direct developmental patterning in human embryogenesis with long-term aim to understand origins of developmental disease.


Professor Jose Maria Polo graduated from Buenos Aires University as a Biochemist and obtained his PhD in 2008 at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York under the supervision of Dr. Ari Melnick working on the transcriptional mechanism of BCL6. He then moved to Boston to the laboratory of Dr. Konrad Hochedlinger at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute to work on the reprogramming of adult cells into iPS cells. In June 2011, Jose established his independent research group at Monash University, where he holds appointments to the departments of Anatomy and Developmental Biology and to the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute. His research group focuses on the molecular mechanism governing the reprogramming process and the epigenetic mechanism underpinning cell fate in general.


Dr. Mina Popovic received her PhD from Ghent University, Belgium, investigating the impact of chromosomal instability on early human development. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as a clinical embryologist for over five years, at Genea (previously Sydney IVF) in Sydney, Australia. She is currently a researcher at Clinica Eugin in Barcelona, involved in projects relating to preimplantation genetic testing, in vitro models of human peri-implantation development and reproductive aging. She is deputy of the ESHRE special interest group Stem Cells and is passionate about improving patient outcomes through evidence-based ART.


Mina obtained her PhD in 2006 from Monash University under the mentorship of Professor Alan Trounson. She is certified as a High Complexity Clinical Laboratory Director (HCLD) and Clinical Consultant (CC). During more than 35 years as a Clinical Embryologist, she has focused on improving IVF laboratory performance and outcomes via meticulous practice, detailed observation, embracing of new and bold technologies, and teaching and training of others to do the same.
Mina has lectured worldwide on ART topics and has authored and co-authored more than 80 articles and book chapters on laboratory aspects of assisted reproduction. She is an editor of RBMO and an Editorial Board member of Fertility and Sterility. She serves on the Executive Board of Alpha Scientists in Reproductive Medicine and the Scientific Advisory Board of TMRW Life Sciences.
Mina lives in New York, and since 2019 has held the position of Senior Director of Laboratories of Northwell Health Fertility, where she runs a state-of-the-art facility that she helped design and equip. She is now keenly providing mentorship to the next generation of ART laboratory professionals. 

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