The International IVF Initiative - i3

Session 74: Spermatozoa and Fertility: Endgame Scenarios?

International IVF Initiative

Session 74: Spermatozoa and Fertility: Endgame Scenarios?

Session 74: Spermatozoa and Fertility: Endgame Scenarios?

Tuesday 7th September, 2021. 3PM EST/ 8PM GMT / 9PM CET

A session with a mix of lectures and conversations around the reports of declining sperm counts, threatened male fertility, and environmental factors effecting spermatogenesis.

This session is kindly sponsored by ZyMōt Fertility


Dr. Jacques Cohen, Prof. Allan Pacey and Dr. Harry Fisch


"Plastics, Pills and Painkillers: Effects of In-utero Exposures on Male Reproductive Health" Prof. Rod Mitchell

"Sperm Count Decline: The Silent Pandemic?" Prof. Hagai Levine

"Threatened Reproduction: Causes, Consequences and Solutions" Prof. Shanna Swan


Rod is Professor of Developmental Endocrinology at the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh. He is also a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh.

His research interests are focused on the role of the germ-stem cell niche on germ cell development in the fetal and prepubertal testis. This includes investigating the effect of exposure to proposed environmental ‘endocrine disrupting chemicals’ (EDC’s) on human fetal testis development. Exposure to several such agents have been postulated to increase the risk of developing male reproductive disorders including infertility and testicular cancer.

His group have shown the impact of several proposed ‘EDC’s’, including analgesics commonly used during pregnancy, on the development of the human fetal testis in terms of testosterone production and germ cell development. These studies include the use of a xenograft approach developed in his laboratory. Importantly, these studies have highlighted some important differences between rodent and human in terms of the effect of such exposures on the testis. In addition to his interests in EDC’s he also has a clinical and research interest in fertility preservation for young males treated for cancer. Edinburgh recently became the first UK Centre to develop a fertility preservation programme to store testicular tissue from young boys with cancer prior to their treatment, as part of the 'Edinburgh Fertility Preservation’ programme, for which Rod is the lead for male fertility preservation.


Prof. Hagai Levine is a public health physician and environmental epidemiologist, Professor at the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. Founder and first director of the Environmental Health Track and one of the founders of the Advance School of Environmental Studies and the research Center in Agriculture and Environmental Health.

Prof. Levine has Published ~100 peer-reviewed scientific articles in the leading literature. His work examines the environmental, biological, and chemical threats to public health and the response needed, with focus on male reproduction and impact of maternal exposures on the developing fetus. His main fields of research are Air pollution impact on health, Chemical pollutants (pesticides, endocrine disrupting chemicals, etc.), Human Bio-monitoring as well as Control of communicable diseases and pandemic preparedness.

In 2017 Dr. Levine together with Dr. Swan and other colleagues published “Temporal Trends in Sperm Count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis” which received extensive, worldwide media coverage.


Dr. Shanna Swan is an Environmental and Reproductive Epidemiologist and Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. Her work examines the impact of environmental exposures, including man-made chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A, on reproductive health and the neurodevelopment of children.
Since 1998, Dr. Swan has been conducting multi-center pregnancy cohort studies—the Study for Future Families (SFF) and The Infant Development and the Environment Study (TIDES)—which include more than 1,500 mothers and their children followed from birth, to better understand how prenatal and early childhood exposure to stressors impact the reproductive health and neurodevelopment of children.

In 2017 Dr. Swan together with Dr. Levine and other colleagues published “Temporal Trends in Sperm Count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis” which received extensive, worldwide media coverage. It also led to her writing (with Stacey Colino): Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Health, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race which was published by Scribner & Sons in Feb 23, 2021, and is currently being translated into nine languages.


Harry Fisch MD is currently Clinical Professor of Urology and Reproductive Medicine at Weill College of Medicine, Cornell University. Dr. Fisch is a Board Certified Urologist and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Fisch is the Founder, Vice Chairman of the Board, and Chief Corporate Officer of Veru Inc.(NASDAQ: VERU) and has served as a director of the Company since October 2016.

Dr. Fisch holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the State University of New York at Binghamton, an M.D. from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, and performed his surgical and urologic training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center.


Allan is Professor of Andrology in the Department of Oncology and Metabolism at the University of Sheffield.
His research interests include aspects of male fertility and has published over 200 research papers, book chapters and review articles on the topic. He is a former Secretary (2005-2010) and Chairman (2012-2015) of the British Fertility Society as well as the current Editor in Chief of the BFS journal Human Fertility. In addition, Allan is an accomplished science communicator and broadcaster.

Recent television programmes include Me, My Brother and our Balls (2020), Alex Jones – Fertility and Me (2016), Britain’s Secret Code Breaker (2011), Donor Unknown (2011), The Great Sperm Race (2009), The Truth About Food (2007), Make me a Baby (2007) and Lab Rats (2004). In 2016 he was awarded an MBE by the Queen for services to Reproductive Medicine. You can follow his general musings about science, fertility and the life of an academic on Twitter and Instagram @allanpacey


Dr. 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.

For further information on the sponsor please visit ZyMōt Fertility and their new microsite here.


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