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The CRS Explores Maternal Microbiomes, Gene Editing, and IVF, through Non-Traditional Learning Methods

By: Chelsea Castleberry, CRS Program Assistant, February 22nd, 2018

Last week, the CRS Community participated in special virtual lectures from two luminaries in the field of reproductive science. Using BlueJeans technology, we enabled learning in a different way by linking leaders in our field, across institutions and time zones, with our community via videoconference.

Dr. Jennifer Wood, Associate professor in Molecular and Cellular Reproductive Physiology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, virtually presented, “Fertility, Infertility, and Developmental Programming: What is the Role of Maternal Microbiomes?”

“Dr. Wood’s talk was amazing. She spoke on so many aspects of reproductive biology and the relationship with the microbiome, which have continued to stimulate my interests in microbiology and immunology and how they relate to reproduction. It was also fascinating to learn about the association between obesity and oxidative stress and I look forward to hearing and reading about her future investigations.” – Sharrón Manuel, MD, PhD, MS-RSM Student

 Jennifer Wood presenting virtually

“Reproductive biology has become truly an interdisciplinary field with a wide number of interesting sub-fields. As a student currently exploring different career options, I really appreciate the opportunity to get to know these sub-fields from which I now have a deeper understanding of reproductive sciences.” – Jennie Chen, MS-RSM Student

Students attending a virtual lecture

Dr. Jon Hennebold, Professor and Chief in the Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, virtually presented, “Gene Editing: New Tools for Developing Nonhuman Primate Disease Models.”

“Dr. Hennebold’s talk was very informative. I don’t think anyone has explained gene editing to me in a way that was easy to understand and I greatly appreciated it. Listening to his talk was like visualizing a paradigm map for gene editing and seeing at what point the CRISPR technology really skyrocketed. I was also intrigued by the mention of the court case being fought out to determine who owns the CRISPR technology. I am curious to see the results of this battle.” – Sharrón Manuel, MD, PhD, MS-RSM Student

Jon Hennebold presenting virtually

Our MS in Reproductive Science and Medicine (MS-RSM) students also received some hands-on learning. They took a deeper dive into fertility and reproductive medicine (FRM), specifically in vitro fertilization (IVF), via a tour of the Northwestern FRM lab, led by Dr. John Zhang, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology (Reproductive Endo and Infertility).

“The tour was definitely the highlight for me as I've never been inside an IVF clinic and it was really interesting to see how the office space had been modified to suit the specific needs of the clinic." – Leah Simon, MS-RSM Student

“The IVF lab tour was very impactful for me coming from embryology myself. The technology that we have at Northwestern University was astounding and it was clear that they do everything they can in the IVF clinic to ensure the best quality embryos and outcomes. They put the patient first with incredible accommodations from the collection rooms to the homey transfer rooms. It made me proud to be part of an institution that provides such exceptional care.” – Jordan Machlin, MS-RSM Student