Fertility and Infertility Branch (FIB)


FIB’s mission is to encourage, enable, and support research aimed at alleviating human infertility, uncovering new possible pathways to control fertility, and expanding fundamental knowledge of processes that underlie human reproduction. To this end, FIB funds basic, clinical, and translational studies to enhance our understanding of normal reproduction and reproductive pathophysiology, as well as to enable the development of more effective strategies for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of conditions that compromise fertility.


Some recent findings from FIB-supported researchers include the following:

  • New factors identified in ovarian primordial follicle survival. Work from Dr. Joan Jorgensen’s laboratory shows that expression patterns of transcription factors Irx3 and Irx5 are critical in establishing the connections between oocytes and their surrounding somatic cells during primordial follicle formation. Defects in this patterning disrupt communication between the two cell types and result in oocyte death, potentially shortening the span of a woman’s fertile reproductive years. (PMID: 30071018)
  • Epigenetic changes in ADAMTS linked to preterm birth. Dr. Mainigi and colleagues studied placentas from a population of women at high risk for preterm birth. Their research showed that regulation of methylation levels of members of the gene family ADAMTS, implicated in cell invasion and migration, is important in regulating early placentation and later susceptibility to preterm birth. (PMID: 30239759)
  • Single-cell transcriptomes yield information on spermatogonial stem cells to spermatids. Dr. McCarrey and his colleagues performed single-cell transcriptomics of more than 62,000 spermatogenic cells from mice and humans and identified unique three-gene expression signatures for 11 different spermatogenic cells types. Among other uses, this comprehensive gene expression roadmap can help optimize protocols for in vitro spermatogenesis. (PMID: 30404016)
  • Hyperandrogenemia and obesity have detrimental effects on fertility and gestation in primates, which may be directly relevant to women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Dr. True and her colleagues showed that, in a non-human primate model, elevated testosterone in females increased the time to achieve pregnancy, while a western-style diet (WSD) reduced fertility. The combination of testosterone and a WSD additionally impaired glucose tolerance and caused pregnancy loss. (PMID: 29401269)
  • Major depression and antidepressant use affect male and female fertility. A study of major depression in couples with infertility showed that currently active major depression in infertile men can lower chances of pregnancy, and use of non-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants in infertile women could be linked to first-trimester pregnancy loss. (PMCID: PMC5973807)
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