Fertility 2023 Review

Fertility 2023 will be remembered for its outstanding science, the excellent venue of Belfast but most of all for the overwhelming buzz and excitement in finally being able to meet, share ideas and network face to face! Looking at the numbers, we had just under 1000 attendees of which 789 were paying delegates, speakers or committee guests with a further 208 exhibitors!  Notably our attendees represented 23 different countries.

The 4 days started with another resoundingly successful SRF Satellite day! In the very first session, our SRF undergraduates and masters students delivered short presentations to a packed and interactive audience. This was the Reproduction and Fertility sponsored Early Career SRF Research Symposium and it was great to listen to our future ambassador’s deliver their presentations to such a high standard. Congratulations to the joint winners: Cara Robb and Scarlett Green (both from Edinburgh) for their presentations on “A pilot study to examine ovarian hormones in women with long COVID across the menstrual cycle” and “The effect of cisplatin on the fetal mouse ovary in vitro”, respectively.

The following session was our traditional SRF Post-Doctoral prize session with five top level presentations with speakers from the UK, Estonia and Canada. Congratulations to Sofia Granados Aparici (McGill University) winner of the SRF Post-doctoral Prize for her excellent presentation on “SMAD4 within granulosa cells promotes adhesion of transzonal projections to the oocyte in the mouse”. The SRF PhD student prize session held the following day was equally enthralling with speakers from Cardiff, Nottingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Cambridge. Congratulations to Cindy XW Zhang (Cambridge), winner of the SRF PhD student Prize for her presentation on “Maternal spleen-liver axis inflammation during obese pregnancy and placental nutrient sensing”. We applaud all our undergraduate, PhD student and post-doctoral speakers: congratulations to you all!

Beyond the presentations, we were also treated to some fantastic electronic posters as well as to the novel rapid-fire poster presentations. Congratulations go to Edyta Walewska (PAS, Poland) as Winner of the SRF Poster Prize and to Emma Siragher (Cambridge, UK) as runner up.

 We are proud to have such a strong linkage with the SSR and SRB as our USA and Australia/New Zealand sister Societies. This is demonstrated through our annual exchange prize lectures and once again, three outstanding lectures were delivered by the three winners. Our congratulations to Bridget Arman (Melbourne, Australia) as the SRF/SRB David Healy Post-doc Exchange lecturer, to Dr David Pepin as the SSR/SRF Virenda Mahesh New Investigator lecturer from the USA and to our own Roseanne Rosario as the SRF/SSR New Investigator lecturer from Edinburgh. The final accolade of the day was the Reproduction Journal prize lecture delivered by Tomoya Takashima (Nara Medical University, Japan) on the “Effect of in vitro growth on mouse oocyte competency, mitochondria and transcriptome”.

The prestigious SRF Anne McLaren Distinguished Scientist lecture was delivered by Professor Paul Fowler (University of Aberdeen) and you could hear a pin drop as Paul eloquently delivered his presentation on “Laying the foundations for future life and reproduction”.  The SRF AGM  provided the  opportunity to award the Societies highest accolade, The Marshall Medal, to Professor Evelyn Telfer, CBE (University of Edinburgh) for her remarkable research contributions over many years to female reproductive health. Congratulations to both Paul and Evelyn on their astounding achievements and long-term support of the Society.

Fertility 2023 was officially opened by Suman Rice and the excellent opening plenary sessions focused on ovarian ageing with cutting edge presentations from Richard Anderson (Edinburgh UK), Mary Ann Ottinger (Houston, USA) and Lucy van de Wiel (Kings College, London). Looking across the meeting, our congratulations go out to the recipients of the two other eponymous award lectures: the ARCS Bob Edwards Memorial Lecture delivered by Professor Denny Sakkas (The IVF lab in the future: Automation, Microfluidics and AI, oh my!!) and the BFS Howard Jacobs Lecture delivered by Professor Marcelle Cedars (Diminished ovarian reserve: Fertility loss and beyond).

 The update and short paper sessions were not badged against specific societies and the boundary pushing presentations were enjoyed by all our delegates. Specific highlights amongst the many are the update sessions on Transgenerational environmental effects, PCOS: Beyond the ovary, Fertility preservation and Reproductive Senescence. The full programme ultimately lead to the final plenary and we were honoured indeed to listen to the legal and medical expertise of Professor Louise King on the topical and sensitive topic of “Reproductive rights: Roe vs Wade”.  This was followed by our traditional debate which saw Professors Edgar Mocanu (Dublin Ireland) and Ishola Agbaje (Belfast Fertility), eloquently and respectfully debate the motion that “Women over 42 should not be offered ART with their own eggs”.

 Finally, the SRF satellite Day and Fertility 2023 are more than the science and presentations. The SRF Social in The Thirsty Goat was a great first night and opportunity to network and catch up with friends and colleagues. Our sincere thanks to the BFS for inviting SRF Council and guests to their 50th Celebration in the town hall and it was really nice to be welcomed by the Mayor of Belfast in person. Finally, we will all remember the brilliant venue for the conference dinner: the Titanic museum. It was really fantastic to see all our members and delegates from other societies enjoying these events to the full!

 From the amazing feedback already received, we already know everyone enjoyed the conference and please do continue to send us further feedback on the conference. We will be in touch again soon regarding our 2023 public engagement event (SRF’s One Night Stand) with updates on the World Congress of Reproductive Biology and on our plans for Fertility 2024 in Edinburgh (January 10-13).

 Wishing everyone a happy and safe 2023!

 Prof. Richard Lea (Chair SRF)

Dr Suman Rice (Programme Chair SRF)

SRF Awards presented at Fertility 2023

Marshall Medal Award

Professor Evelyn Telfer CBE, University of Edinburgh, UK

Distinguished Scientist (Anne McLaren) Award

Professor Paul Fowler, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK

New Investigator Award

Dr Roseanne Rosario, University of Edinburgh, UK

Post-doctoral Prize

Dr Sofia Granados Aparici, McGill University, Canada for SMAD4 within granulosa cells promotes adhesion of transzonal projections to the oocyte in the mouse

SRF PhD Prize Session

Ms Cindy XW Zhang, University of Cambridge, UK for Maternal spleen-liver axis inflammation during obese pregnancy and placental nutrient sensing

SRF Poster Prize

Edyta Walewska, Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of PAS, Poland for Impaired decidualisation in obese mice is associated with the upregulation of leptin signalling modulators Socs3 and Ptpn2

Runner up:

Emma Siragher, University of Cambridge, UK for RNAseq analysis identifies PPAR signalling and calcium binding as key players in the hypoxic mouse placenta.

Stewart Rhind Writing Prize

Ms Sophie Carroll, University of Edinburgh, UK for ‘From your knowledge of reproductive biology, critically evaluate in detail, one possible cause of mass of infertility that could explain the situation in the Handmaid’s Tale’.

Journal Prizes

 

Reproduction Prize

Dr Tomoya Takashima, Nara Medical University and Tokyo University of Agriculture, Japan (Tomoya Takashima, Tsubasa Fujimaru, Yayoi Obata) for their paper Effect of in vitro growth on mouse oocyte competency, mitochondria and transcriptome.

Reproduction and Fertility Prize (Early Career Symposium)

Joint winners

Cara Robb, Undergraduate Student, The Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK for A pilot study to examine ovarian hormones in women with long COVID across the menstrual cycle.

Scarlett Green, Undergraduate Student, University of Edinburgh, UK for The effect of cisplatin on the fetal mouse ovary in vitro.