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Dr. Tom O'Halloran delivers 2021 Dr. Erwin Goldberg Lecture

ohalloran.jpgOn February 5th, the 2021 Erwin Goldberg Lectureship in Male Reproduction was delivered by Dr. Tom O’Halloran, PhD, the Foundation Professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and Chemistry at Michigan State University and longtime CRS faculty member. Dr. O’Halloran presented a fascinating and comprehensive talk titled "Zinc Fluxes in Control of Gamete Function: Mechanistic Insights into Oocyte Maturation, Sperm-Egg Interactions and the Egg-to-Embryo Transition", where he covered the role of zinc in gametes and in fertilization, from the initial spark at fertilization to his team’s current studies in uncovering zinc’s role in the developing embryo.

Each year Dr. Erwin Goldberg chooses a luminary in the field reproduction and Dr. Goldberg did not have to venture far to identify a preeminent scientist who has made great strides in our understanding of metals in reproductive biology and who also happens to be a longtime colleague and friend. Many of us at Northwestern and CRS know Dr. O’Halloran and his team’s work well. Many a RRU has been delivered by trainees in Dr. O’Halloran’s lab and we have been witness to a great avalanche of discovery and innovation that Dr. O’Halloran and his collaborator Dr. Teresa Woodruff, PhD have produced in our understanding of zinc in reproductive biology. The initial discovery of the zinc spark has entered the collective lexicon and even plays a role in the bestselling novel “A Spark of Light” by Jodi Picoult. Dr. O’Halloran’s work has uncovered a role for zinc in fertilization and polyspermy block in the mammalian system, but his talk also focused his team's expanding work on understanding zinc and other metals in gamete function and fertilization in other species such as worms and frogs. His team’s development of innovative and cutting-edge visualization technologies has allowed us to see the rapid movement of zinc across the egg membrane at fertilization and is now venturing into understanding the role of zinc in the early stages of embryonic development.

Watching Dr. O’Halloran discuss his work is always treat for our CRS community. Not only are we able to see the progress of great science but we are treated to an enthusiastic speaker and a scientist whose glowing excitement for his research can only help to spark the minds of junior scientist to reach higher and dream bigger in their research endeavors.