2023 Speaker Bios

Human Egg Activation:
The Influence of Sperm

Discussing novel sperm influences on egg activation.

David Keefe, MD

NYU Ob/Gyn
Professor, Department of Cell Biology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine 

Talk Title: “Retrotransposition and early embryo development”

Dr. Keefe is an expert reproductive endocrinologist and fertility expert who has also conducted pioneering studies of egg parthenogenesis and the role of retro elements in egg activation.

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Oliver Rando, PhD

Professor, UMass Chan Medical School, Biochemistry and Molecular Biotechnology

Talk title: “Epigenetic contributions of sperm to early development in mammals”

Dr. Rando is an internationally recognized pioneer in the epigenetic influence of sperm on egg fertilization and resulting offspring development in murine models.
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David Albertini, PhD

Editor in Chief, Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Professor of Reproductive Biology at the Bedford Research Foundation

Dinner Talk title: “Human Egg Research: Past, Present and Future”

Dr. Albertini investigates the acquisition of developmental competence in mammalian embryos as it relates to ovarian physiology and the impact of Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

Eric Bittman, PhD

Professor, Department of BIology
Center for Neuroendocrine Studies
UMass Amherst

Talk title: “Time is of the Essence: Circadian coordination up and down the reproductive axis.”

Dr. Bittman is a circadian rhythm scholar whose recent work has described the complex circadian signals involved in mammalian ovulation.

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Tiziana A.L. Brevini, PhD

Unistem-Laboratory of Biomedical Embryology and Tissue Engineering
Chair of Anatomy and Histology,
Università degli Studi di Milano
OneHealth-Boost Horizon Europe
Inter-European Task force on Covid-19

Talk title: “Expression profile and mechanosensing related pathways in parthenogenetic cells”

Dr. Brevini’s work contributes broadly to the interface between regenerative medicine and stem cells (ES, iPS) as related to the development of organoids and using mammalian parthenogenesis to derive stem cells.

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Björn Heindryckx, PhD

Ghent-Fertility And Stem cell Team (G-FaST)
Department for Reproductive Medicine
Department of Human Structure and Repair
Ghent University Hospital, Belgium

Talk title: “Overcoming dysfunctional oocyte cytoplasm causing failed fertilization or embryo developmental arrest”

Dr. Heindryckx is a leader in the European community investigating genetic instability in human eggs before and after artificial activation (parthenogenesis) or fertilization.

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Ann A. Kiessling, PhD

Dr. Kiessling is Director of the Bedford Research Foundation and is retired Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.

Talk title: “The Beginning of Reverse Transcription”

Dr. Kiessling’s research has been at the crossroads of infectious disease and reproductive biology for decades and has more recently focused on human parthenogenetic stem cell derivation for clinical uses.

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Gianpiero D. Palermo, MD, PhD

Professor of Embryology in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Weill Cornell Medicine

Talk title: “Clinical Aspects of Early Fertilization”

Dr. Gianpiero D. Palermo is the pioneer of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a ground-breaking technique that has transformed the treatment of male factor infertility and fertilization failure. Ever since its inception in 1992, ICSI has assisted thousands of men to achieve biologic paternity. Beginning 1993, Dr. Palermo has been the Director of Assisted Fertilization and Andrology at the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, one of the world’s largest ICSI programs. In his capacity as the Blavatnik Distinguished Professor of Reproductive Medicine, he leads a talented team of researchers comprising of andrologists and clinical fellows who investigate the molecular aspects of fertilization, genetic and epigenetic aspects of male infertility, follow-up of ICSI babies and the development and differentiation of embryonic stem cells. He has published over 76 book chapters, 327 abstracts, and 132 research papers, which have been featured in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JAMA, Human Reproduction, Fertility and Sterility, and PLOS One. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine awarded by the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center and Brandeis University, the Barbara Eck Menning Founders Award, and the Francavilla Fontana Illustrious Citizen Award. 

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Corrado Spadafora, PhD

Italian National Research Council
Visiting Scientist at the Bedford Research Foundation

Talk title: “Sperm-Mediated Epigenetic Inheritance, Genesis and Propagation of Extrachromosomal Information”

Dr. Spadafora’s pioneering reports of epigenetic cargo carried into eggs by sperm was initially very controversial and is now a recognized sperm activity. With over 40 years of experience studying sperm’s contribution to activating eggs, Dr. Spadafora currently brings his expertise as a visiting scientist with the bedford research foundation working on the parthenote stem cell project.

Dan Wikler, PhD

Professor of Ethics and Population Health
Harvard School of Public Health

Lunch Talk title: “A.I.D, A.I.H, A.I.V, A.I.P… and the Turkey Baster Baby”

Dr. Wikler is an internationally recognized expert in human subjects research and has chaired BRF’s Human Subjects Review committee for many years.