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Graduate Coursework

CRS’s graduate courses offer a broad range of study in human reproductive health from didactic foundational courses to advanced topics and professional training. If you would like more information about these classes
and how to register, please contact Dr. Pamela MonahanDirector of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Foundational Courses

REPR_SCI 405: Female Reproductive Physiology & Endocrinology

Fall; foundational lecture

Course Director: Pamela Monahan, PhD

This is a lecture-based course that provides a comprehensive survey of the structure and function of the female reproductive system. Students will discuss the fundamentals of female reproductive anatomy and reproductive axis function (hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal). Specific topics covered include: female sex determination and differentiation, reproductive hormone signaling and action, the ovarian and menstrual cycles, oogenesis and folliculogenesis, pregnancy and parturition, and female reproductive technologies. Topics will be presented from molecular, cellular, and tissue perspectives and will span development, puberty, adulthood, and reproductive senescence. Perturbations to the female reproductive system that can lead to infertility, disease, or disorders will be considered. Lectures are interactive and consist of didactic fundamentals, deep dives into the historical literature, and examination of current and emerging topics in the field.

REPR_SCI 407: Male Reproductive Physiology & Endocrinology

Fall; foundational lecture

Course Director: Pamela Monahan, PhD

This is a lecture-based course that provides a comprehensive survey of the structure and function of the female reproductive system. Students will discuss the fundamentals of female reproductive anatomy and reproductive axis function (hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal). Specific topics covered include: female sex determination and differentiation, reproductive hormone signaling and action, the ovarian and menstrual cycles, oogenesis and folliculogenesis, pregnancy and parturition, and female reproductive technologies. Topics will be presented from molecular, cellular, and tissue perspectives and will span development, puberty, adulthood, and reproductive senescence. Perturbations to the female reproductive system that can lead to infertility, disease, or disorders will be considered. Lectures are interactive and consist of didactic fundamentals, deep dives into the historical literature, and examination of current and emerging topics in the field.

REPR_SCI 440: Reproductive Technologies Laboratory

Fall; foundational lab

Course directors: Francesca Duncan, PhD, and Hoi Chang Lee, PhD

This is an intensive laboratory-based course designed to provide students with exposure to a range of topics and associated technologies used in reproductive science and medicine. All of the experiments in this course will use the mouse model system to allow results to be obtained under the time constraints of an academic quarter. Modules will cover topics including gonad architecture, gametogenesis, meiosis, fertilization, preimplantation embryo development, and reproductive signaling. Techniques that will be acquired include, but are not limited to, collection and micromanipulation of reproductive tissues and cells, immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry, biomaterial-based culture methods, microinjection, in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, live cell imaging, and advanced microscopy. In addition, students will learn firsthand how to conduct experiments using the principles of the scientific method and how to communicate their results via visual, oral, and written approaches. Enrolled students should take REPR_SCI 405, REPR_SCI 407, and REPR_SCI 425 concurrently with REPR_SCI 440 or should have previously completed these courses as pre-requisites

Advanced Topic Courses

REPR_SCI 406: Emerging Research in Reproductive Science & Medicine

Winter; advanced topic required

Course director: Julie Kim, PhD

This is a primary literature and critical thinking-based course designed to challenge students with historical, contemporary, and emerging concepts in reproductive science and medicine, particularly around the concepts of human reproductive development and ways to regulate and restore function. The ultimate goal is to provide students with the intellectual and critical thinking skills to become the next generation of leaders who will tackle research problems and fuel discoveries. Topics covered include model systems for reproductive science and medicine research, epigenetics, hormone receptor signaling, endocrine disruption for therapy and due environmental toxins, cancer stem cells, next generation sequencing, and reproductive engineering. The course is team-taught by instructors who are active researchers and leaders themselves in these research areas. Students will delve into the literature to examine how research questions are identified and how technologies are enabled or created to address them. A basic understanding of cell and molecular biology is a prerequisite for this course in addition to prior completion of REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407. Students who have not completed REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407 should contact the Center for Reproductive Science, crs@northwestern.edu, for permission to enroll

REPR_SCI 415: Medical Management of Fertility

Winter; advanced topic elective

Course director: Mary Ellen Pavone, MD

This course exposes students to key topics in assisted reproductive technologies (ART), embryology, and andrology. The course, which is team-taught by faculty with translational and clinical expertise, covers gamete and embryo biology, assisted reproductive techniques and associated technologies, ethics, and an introduction to fertility clinic operation. Students will also have the opportunity to experience some commonly used clinical laboratory techniques in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, such as sperm processing and analysis for ART, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), time-lapse morphokinetics, embryo biopsy and genetic screening, and gamete cryopreservation and thawing. A basic understanding of cell and molecular biology is a prerequisite for this course in addition to prior completion of REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407. Students who have not completed REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407 should contact the Center for Reproductive Science, crs@northwestern.edu ,for permission to enroll.

REPR_SCI 420: Human Reproductive Health & Disease

Spring; advanced topic required

Course director: Lia Bernardi, MD, MS

This course covers human reproductive health and disease from a clinical angle – from physiology to pathology to therapeutic interventions. Aspects of both male and female reproduction are covered. The course is team-taught primarily by clinicians and physician-scientists who are experts in reproductive science and medicine and who are active in research and patient care. Topics include sexual function and dysfunction, infertility, reproductive aging, reproductive cancers, endometriosis, uterine leiomyoma, and pregnancy complications. Class sessions are interactive, and discussions focus on pathology, risk factors, diagnosis, standard of care, and the current status of research. A basic understanding of cell and molecular biology is a prerequisite for this course in addition to prior completion of REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407. Students who have not completed REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407 should contact the Center for Reproductive Science, crs@northwestern.edu ,for permission to enroll.

REPR_SCI 430: Translational Topics in Fertility Preservation & Oncofertility

Spring; advanced topic elective 

Course directors: Kara Goldman, MD, and Monica Laronda, PhD

Cancer patients are surviving their disease in increasing numbers, converting what was once a mortal diagnosis to a cure or a chronic illness. However, as survival rates increase, many patients are faced with off-target effects and complications of cancer treatment, including compromised reproductive function –ranging from destruction of gametes to the loss of pituitary and gonadal hormone production. It is in this setting that the discipline of Oncofertility emerged which blends the field of oncology with fertility. Oncofertility researchers are working to provide information about the iatrogenic effects of drugs on reproductive organs and to develop strategies that will preserve and restore reproductive function. Advances in the oncology arena are being paralleled by those in reproductive medicine and science, which together are continuously improving and expanding the fertility preservation repertoire for men, women, and children. This lecture and case studies-based course bridges basic science and clinical knowledge to expose students to the translational advances in the field of oncofertility and fertility preservation. Course topics include fertility preservation in different populations (adult women and men, pediatrics, transgender and disorders of sex development (DSD)populations), tissue/cell processing methods (gamete and gonad harvesting, processing, cryopreservation, and storage), clinical care (patient navigation conversations, consults, cancer agent risk factors, psychological factors), fundamental biology techniques (bioengineering gonadal bioprostheses, spheroids, microphysiologic platforms, follicle culture), and ethical issues in the field. Students will also learn to evaluate complex case studies with complimentary lectures. A basic understanding of cell and molecular biology is a prerequisite for this course in addition to prior completion of REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407. Completion of REPR_SCI 440 is also required so that students are familiar with the lab techniques that will be discussed in this course.

Professional Training Courses

REPR_SCI 425: Responsible Conduct of Research in Reproductive Science

Fall; professional training

Course director: Giulia Vigone, PhD

The goal of this course is to provide instruction and guidance on the responsible conduct of research as it pertains to all scientific disciplines but also through the specific lens of reproductive science and medicine.  The National Institutes of Health defines the responsible conduct of research as the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. The responsible conduct of research involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to research. Students will learn about and discuss a variety of topics required to perform high quality research, including rigor and reproducibility, mentoring relationships, authorship and peer review, misconduct and integrity, conflicts of interest, animals and humans in research, collaborations/team science, and social impact. Students will complete laboratory safety training and biomedical human subjects research training as part of this course. Students will demonstrate understanding of course concepts through case studies, faculty interviews, and classroom engagement. The quarter culminates in a student-driven case study discussion. Contemporary social impact issues from reproductive science are integrated throughout the class.

REPR_SCI 455: Science Communication in Reproductive Science and Medicine

Winter; professional training

Course director: Giulia Vigone, PhD

The goal of this course is to increase students’ competence in oral, written and visual science communication. Students will learn how to communicate complex topics in reproductive science and medicine to their scientific community and their peers, as well as to broad audiences including funders, policymakers, and the media. Over the course of the quarter, students will learn to write a research abstract and research proposal. They will also prepare a visual representation of their scientific hypothesis and learn to deliver an oral presentation in the form of a 3-minute elevator pitch. Through these deliverables, students will practice writing, editing, and giving constructive criticism on written and oral assignments through peer-review and class interactions.  This class is co-taught by a board-certified editor in the life sciences with experience in biomedical writing, editing, and consulting.

REPR_SCI 497: Assessment & Career Planning

Spring; professional training

Course director: Giulia Vigone, PhD

This course is designed to provide students with skills and resources to evaluate themselves in light of their career and professional goals so that they are prepared to be well-rounded scientists. Students receive instruction on self-assessment and professional development planning. Students will identify their strengths using assessment tools and use this information to set goals to utilize strengths more effectively. To practice and understand the power of professional networking, students will identify individuals actively engaged in professions of interest and conduct informational interviews. In-class activities include mock speed networking, informational interviews, and job interviews to increase comfort with these important professional interactions. This course also includes classes on resumes, CVs, and cover letters as well as the job search process and interviewing to provide a well-rounded approach to professional development. This course does not specifically prepare students for any one career. Rather, recognizing that professional development is a continuous process, this course provides students the skills and resources to uncover their unique strengths relevant to the professional world of reproductive science and medicine.