Areas of interest
• Effects of the microenvironment and chemotherapy treatments on oocyte health and future embryo developmental potential
• Oocyte maturation and preimplantation embryo development
• Fertilization and cell signaling
Oocyte and embryo health are the primary focus of my research. Our previous research lead to the development of KSOMaa (trade name “Global”), a liquid culture media that provides nutritional support for preimplantation embryos growing in vitro and is now used worldwide in clinical embryology labs treating patients for infertility. We work directly with the clinicians and fellows in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and the USC Fertility Clinic on studies designed to understand the causes of infertility, reduced oocyte quality, and poor embryo survival. Identifying the underlying causes of these conditions will enable the development of new treatments that will improve pregnancy rates and the birth of healthy children.
Current research studies ongoing in my laboratory:
1. “The effects of long-term cancer treatments on reproductive outlook for cancer survivors”: Some cancer survivors must continue taking therapeutic doses of chemotherapy drugs for many years. For young women of reproductive age, there is concern regarding the effects of these treatments on their chances to have children in the future. We are currently studying the ovarian response and oocyte quality following long-term treatments with Gleevec (Imatinib) or Tamoxifen.
2. “Exosome / microvesicle regulation of oocyte developmental competence”: Extracellular vesicles (exosomes and microvesicles) are tiny (50-200um) vesicles that are released by cells to send messages and signals to neighboring cells. The fluid that surrounds a growing oocyte contains thousands of vesicles carrying messages between cells of the ovary and the growing oocyte. Our research is aimed to determine the function of these vesicles and if they can be used as markers indicating oocyte health or tools to improve fertilization and embryo development.