CRS Scientist Spotlight on Dr. Elnur Babayev
Dr. Elnur Babayev, MD, MSc, is a clinical fellow in Dr. Francesca Duncan's lab. His breadth of research focuses are in understanding the age-related changes in the oocyte microenvironment from pediatric patients to women with advanced reproductive age, the investigation of non-invasive markers of oocyte quality, and the analysis of the impact of endometriosis on gamete function. Learn more about his work and his time at CRS below.
What brought you to join the CRS community and what is your current position?
I am a clinical fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI). This is a 3-year subspecialty training after 4 years of residency/specialty training in Obstetrics and Gynecology. REI fellows spend 1.5 years on their research thesis which ranges from fundamental science studies to clinical projects. I have a long-standing interest in reproductive biology and have been following the research by Teresa Woodruff, Francesca Duncan and other CRS members, for many years. Therefore, it wasn’t a hard decision for me on what to focus my fellowship research project. I am currently working here in Duncan laboratory and hoping for a long-term collaboration.
Could you describe your research?
I am working on several research projects 1) We are trying to understand the age-related changes in cumulus cell expansion and associated changes in cumulus oocyte complex extracellular matrix, and how this knowledge can be harnessed to develop new nonhormonal contraceptives 2) I have a grant from Friends of Prentice of organization with Dr. Monica Laronda to investigate the oocyte quality from pediatric patients by analyzing cumulus cell transcriptome and follicular fluid cytokine profiles 3) We are looking at Hyaluronic acid polydispersity in follicular fluid of infertility patients as a potential non-invasive extracellular marker of oocyte quality 4) We also recently received a grant from Nezhat Family Foundation with Dr. Duncan and Dr. MaryEllen Pavone to investigate cytokine profile of follicular fluid from endometriosis patients and its effect on oocyte maturation and cumulus cell expansion. My long-term goal is to focus on translational research projects and bring fundamental discoveries we do here at CRS to the bedside and important questions from clinic to the bench.
What aspect(s) of CRS do you find most valuable?
I see an amazing group of scientists, mentors and trainees when I look at CRS. I learn something new every day from many members of this community. I love the collaborative work environment and collegiality we have here.
What has been the most valuable aspect to your training as a reproductive scientist?
I do believe in the value of structured research training and so glad that we have Master of Science in Reproductive Science and Medicine program here. I did the similar program in UK and got to interact with and learn from the brilliant scientists who pioneered in vitro fertilization (IVF) research. In addition, I was lucky enough to meet excellent scientists and mentors throughout my career thus far. They challenged me and their research and curiosity intrigued me.
What would you recommend to junior scientists in order for them succeed in their scientific careers?
I consider myself a junior scientist and try to focus on questions that I am genuinely curious and passionate about. That would be my humble recommendation to my peers. I think it all starts with the question. I would say seek answers to the questions that you are genuinely intrigued by, and it will set you on the right path.
What do you think will be the next big contribution in the reproductive biology field?
I want to focus on discoveries that may revolutionize reproductive medicine in the next few decades. There are several areas where we have been seeing interesting developments. One of this is the use of CRISPR-Cas technology for gene editing in human preimplantation embryos to correct for single gene mutations. The other one is the use of artificial intelligence with the use of computer vision or analysis of big data morphokinetics to determine developmental potential of human embryos. Another one is the use of cell-free DNA analysis which obviates the need for embryo biopsy to examine embryo chromosomal status. I plan to talk about this and more during my grand rounds in February 2022. CRS members are welcome to join!
What hobbies do you have outside of the lab?
I am a foodie and love to try new restaurants and different cuisines. Let me know if you have any recommendations. I also love travelling and if I have more than 5 days off, I am typically travelling somewhere outside of the States. I also love team sports. Basketball is my favorite now (mostly watching these days), but I used to be a huge soccer fan when I lived in Europe.