Projects

Jobs

The individual research projects are detailed below. The expressions of interest should be sent to repbiotech@um.es The project title to which the application is addressed must be quoted in the title of the message according to the titles below.

Project 1: Associations between vitamin D and male reproductive parameters.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-1: Anna Rudnicka (Anna Gawlik)

Project supervisor: Dr. Alberto Torres Cantero (amtorres@um.es)

Institution of enrolment: UMU

Other institutions involved: HSPH, MSSM

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Alberto Torres Cantero
  • Jorge Chavarro
  • Shanna Swan
  • Jaime Mendiola

Objectives:

  1. To describe serum vitamin D (25OH-D) levels in men from unknown fertility, fertile and infertile study populations.
  2. To explore the associations between vitamin D intake (assessed by a validated food frequency questionnaire [FFQ]) and 25OH-D serum levels in study participants.
  3. To analyze the associations between 25OH-D levels and semen quality parameters and sperm DNA fragmentation in study participants.
  4. To analyze the associations between serum 25OH-D levels and serum reproductive hormone levels.
  5. To provide doctoral level training to a qualified candidate in the skills and education necessary to conduct future studies in male reproductive health and nutrition.

Project 2: Sex determination in cattle and pigs

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-2: Benjamín Planells Codoñer

Project supervisor: Dr. Alfonso Gutiérrez-Adán (agutierr@inia.es)

Institution of enrolment: UCD

Other institutions involved: INIA, UMU

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Patrick Lonergan
  • Alfonso Gutiérrez-Adán
  • Sebastian Cánovas

Objectives:

  1. Obtaining primordial germ cells from foetal cow and pig before and after sex determination of germinal ring.
  2. Purification of germinal cell through dynabeads cell isolation technology.
  3. Transcriptomic analysis through RNAseq.
  4. Implication in sex reversal of new genes identified for sex determination in cow and pig.

Project 3:Relationship between Nitric oxide (NO) in follicular fluid and sperm fertilization ability.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-3: Florentin-Daniel Staicu

Project supervisor: Dr. Carmen Matás Parra (cmatas@um.es)

Institution of enrolment: UMU

Other institutions involved: IVI, MSSM

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Carmen Matás
  • Juan Carlos Martinez
  • Jorge Chavarro

Objectives:

  1. Obtaining folllicular fluid samples from women donors and classification depending on NO levels.
  2. Investigate if the effects of human follicular fluid on sperm capacitation and motility are associated to NO levels in the fluid.
  3. Study the correlation between NO levels in follicular fluid and clinical outcomes from assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) (e.g. IUI, IVF or ICSI).
  4. To train a PhD individual with the necessary knowledge and initiative to participate in future design and execution of human research studies or exploitation of the results of this project if they are those expected

Project 4: Effects of environmental stress on embryo communication and development.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-4: Krishna Chaitanya Pavani

Project supervisor: Dr. Ann Van Soom (Ann.VanSoom@UGent.be)

Institution of enrolment: UGent

Other institutions involved: UniBonn, INRA

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Ann Van Soom
  • Karl Schellander
  • Pascal Mermillod

Objectives:

  1. To develop a procedure to collect exosomes and miRNA from conditioned medium of bovine embryos produced in vitro and from uterine fluids of flushed cows.
  2. To follow the development of in vitro produced bovine embryos exposed to different stressors like pH changes, temperature changes and light exposure using different parameters such as blastocyst development and cell numbers.
  3. To characterize exosomes and miRNAS derived from in vivo derived embryos and from in vitro produced bovine embryos exposed to different stressors.
  4. To analyse epigenetic changes (methylation differences) in bovine embryos exposed to different stressors.

Project 5: Effects of heat stress on sperm methylation and subsequent embryo development in cattle.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-5: Núria Llamas

Project supervisor: Dr. Ann Van Soom (Ann.VanSoom@UGent.be)

Institution of enrolment: UGent

Other institutions involved: UCD, CRV.

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Ann Van Soom
  • Patrick Lonergan
  • Erik Mullaart

Objectives:

  1. To develop a procedure to analyse methylation patterns in frozen- thawed semen derived from bulls which have been exposed to heat stress.
  2. To follow the development of in vitro produced bovine embryos generated by such heat- stress exposed semen by checking different parameters such as blastocyst development, and cell number and secretion of specific exosomes /miRNAs.
  3. To analyse epigenetic changes (methylation differences) in bovine embryos generated by heat-stressed semen.

Project 6: Oviduct-embryo interactions in cattle: a central role in the establishment of pregnancy.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-6: Beatriz Rodríguez

Project supervisor: Dr. Dimitrios Rizos (drizos@inia.es)

Institution of enrolment: UCD

Other institutions involved: INIA, UMU, ALLICE.

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Patrick Lonergan
  • Dimitrios Rizos
  • Manuel Avilés
  • Pascal Salvetti

Objectives:

  1. Identify the temporal changes that occurs in the oviduct (epithelial cells and oviductal fluid) transcriptome, proteome and metabolome during the first 4 days of the oestrous cycle, and how this changes are affected by the presence of an embryo.
  2. Isolate and characterize extracellular vesicles (ie. Exosomes) from oviductal fluid and their effect on in vitro embryo development and embryo quality.
  3. Use an in vitro model (ie. Bovine Oviductal Epithelial Cells-BOEC and Uterine Epithelial Cells-UEC) to study early embryo-maternal interactions.
  4. Use this knowledge to improve the in vitro culture conditions for producing high quality embryos.

Project 7: Cryopreservation of ovarian tissue and oocyte production from the tissue.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-7: Dmitry Nikiforov

Project supervisor: Dr. Hiroaki Funahashi (hirofun@cc.okayama-u.ac.jp)

Institution of enrolment: UniTe

Other institutions involved: UMU, OU, IVI, LRB.

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Nicola Bernabo
  • Raquel Romar
  • Hiroaki Funahashi
  • José Landeras.
  • Claus Yding Andersen

Objectives:
To study the effect of cryopreservation techniques, including preliminary cell/tissue exposures to low temperatures to trigger adaptive protective reactions before freezing through:

  1. Analysis of cell membrane phase transition parameters throughout cryopreservation by DSC.
  2. Evaluation of ionic compartmentalisation of somatic and germinal cells throughout cryopreservation.
  3. Evaluation of the somatic and germinal cells post thawing functional recovery in vitro (maintenance of stable membrane biophysical properties, epigenetic arrangement, metabolic rate).
  4. Post thawing evaluation of oocyte viability and developmental competence (in vitro maturation, fertilisation and early embryo development).

Project 8: Influence of endocrine status on small ruminant sperm freezing and vitrification response: use of wild and domestic ruminants as an expermental model.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-8: Lucia Martinez-Fresneda

Project supervisor: Dr. Julián Santiago (moreno@inia.es)

Institution of enrolment: UniBonn

Other institutions involved: INIA, UMU.

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Karl Schellander
  • Julián Santiago
  • Francisco A. Garcia-Vazquez

Objectives:

  1. To optimize the vitrification technique and to evaluate the influence of several factors (sperm origin - epididymal vs ejaculated, seasonal breeding activity) on the efficacy of the technique.
  2. To analyze the influence of testosterone and prolactin concentrations, in both blood and seminal plasma, on sperm freezability and vitrificability.
  3. To investigate if these influences are related to endocrine-related sperm proteomic expression.

Project 9: Effect of cow´s metabolic status on the epigenome profile of oocytes and embryos.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-9: Mikhael Poirier

Project supervisor: Dr. Karl Schellander (ksch@itw.uni-bonn.de)

Institution of enrolment: UniBonn.

Other institutions involved: ALLICE, UCD.

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Karl Schellander
  • Pascal Salvetti
  • Patrick Lonergan

Objectives:

  1. To learn in vitro maturation, fertilization and culture of bovine embryos.
  2. To acquaint with ovum-pick-up and endoscopic transfer of early stage bovine embryos to recipients oviduct.
  3. To analyse the epigenome profile of oocytes and embryos derived from cows of varying metabolic status.
  4. To identify genome regions, genes and pathways, which are prone to epigenetic changes due to environmental factors.
  5. 5. To qualify a PhD candidate with the necessary knowledge in epigenomics of bovine oocytes and embryos to contribute for future design and execution of research projects dealing with genomics of bovine fertility

Project 10: Feasibility assessment for the creation of human biobanks of reproductive fluids.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-10: Analuce Canha

Project supervisor: Dr. Pilar Coy Fuster (pcoy@um.es)

Institution of enrolment: UMU

Other institutions involved: CCMIJU, IVI, HSPH.

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Pilar Coy
  • Francisco Sánchez Margallo
  • Jose Landeras
  • Jorge Chavarro
  • Rafael Latorre

Objectives:

  1. To develop a procedure for the collection of human oviductal and uterine fluids in patients and donors.
  2. To characterize the proteomic profile of the fluids according to their origin (phase of the menstrual cycle, age of the woman, health status).
  3. To establish a biobank of human reproductive fluids fulfilling the sanitary conditions and legal requirements for their future use in clinical trials.
  4. To train a PhD individual with the necessary skills to participate in the future design and execution of clinical trials if the results are those expected.

Project 11: Conceptus maternal interaction for successful pregnancy establishment in cattle.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-11: Sandra Bagés Arnal

Project supervisor: Dr. Patrick Lonergan (pat.lonergan@ucd.ie)

Institution of enrolment: UCD

Other institutions involved: UniBonn, INIA.

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Patrick Lonergan
  • Karl Schellander
  • Dimitrios Rizos

Objectives:

  1. To interrogate previously identified maternal and conceptus-derived proteins in the uterine lumen fluid that are responsible for successful preimplantation embryo/conceptus development.
  2. To determine the mode of action through which these proteins present in uterine lumen fluid modulate embryo/ conceptustrophectoderm growth and development. The identification of the mode of action of candidate proteins will involve a three-step approach:
    • a. First, we will determine the effect of these proteins on blastocyst development. Natural or recombinant forms of these proteins will be added to presumptive zygotes in vitro to determine whether they affect the proportion of embryos developing to the blastocyst stage and blastocyst quality.
    • b. The effect of exposure to these proteins in vitro from the zygote to the blastocyst stage on post-hatching conceptus elongation will be assessed by transferring Day 7 blastocysts to synchronised recipients and recovering elongated conceptuses at Day 14 using a previously validated model.
    • c. Additionally, these proteins will be added to bovine trophoblast cells in vitro to measure their effects on cell proliferation, migration, attachment and cell death.

Project 12: Post calving metabolic status dependent changes on expression of exosome mediated circulatory miRNAs in bovine follicular fluid: Implication for the cell to cell communication and oocyte developmental competence.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-12: Tsige Hailay Hagos

Project supervisor: Dr. Karl Schellander (ksch@itw.uni-bonn.de)

Institution of enrolment: UniBonn

Other institutions involved: UGent, INRA

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Karl Schellander
  • Ann Van Soom
  • Pascal Mermillod

Objectives:

  1. To investigate changes in the exosome mediated circulation of miRNAs in bovine follicular fluid during post calving period.
  2. To characterize differentially expressed miRNAs with respect to the pathways enriched by the potential target genes.
  3. To elucidate the role of some of the miRNAs in cell to cell communication in follicular environment

Project 13: Study of Aminiotic Epithelial Cells and definition of their regenerative potential.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-13: Hashimita Sanyal

Project supervisor: Dr. Barbara Barboni (bbarboni@unite.it)

Institution of enrolment: UniTe

Other institutions involved: MSSM, OU

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Barbara Barboni
  • Shanna Swan
  • Hiroaki Funahashi

Objectives:

  1. To investigate the biological characteristics of amniotic stem cells, in particular of ovine Amniotic Epithelial Cells (AEC).
  2. To define treatments that will improve their regenerative potential in bone and tendon lesions.
  3. To train a PhD individual with the necessary knowledge and initiative to participate in the future design and execution of experimental trials.
  4. To increase therapeutic strategies for human and animal regenerative medicine, with positive consequences for wellbeing of citizens and National Health Services costs.

Project 14: In vitro and in silico study on mammalian spermatozoa membrane remodelling.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-14: Marina Ramal Sánchez

Project supervisor: Dr. Nicola Bernabo (nbernabo@unite.it)

Institution of enrolment: UniTe

Other institutions involved: INRA, UMU

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Nicola Bernabo
  • Pascal Mermillod
  • Joaquín Gadea

Objectives:

  1. To define the molecular aspect of membrane remodelling, a key event in the acquisition of mammalian spermatozoa fertilizing ability in vitro in the swine model.
  2. To realize a computational model of these events, which will be made available to the scientific community.
  3. To train a PhD individual with the necessary knowledge and initiative to participate in the future design and execution of experimental trials.
  4. To increase sperm selection and evaluation tools, and ultimately, to increase the fertility, with positive consequences for wellbeing of citizens and National Health Services costs

Project 15: Effects of ARTs and reproductive secretions on transcriptomic and epigenetics alterations in livestock oocytes and preimplantation embryos.

Name of REP-BIOTECH ESR-15: Jornada Sena

Project supervisor: Dr. Pilar Coy (pcoy@um.es).

Institution of enrolment: UMU

Other institutions involved: INRA, UGent

Responsible researchers at the host institutions:

  • Pilar Coy
  • Pascal Mermillod
  • Ann Van Soom

Objectives:

  1. To characterize the effect of superovulation treatments on the gene expression and epigenetics alterations of in vivo collected bovine oocytes and blastocysts.
  2. To test the possibility of improving post-cryopreservation viability in bovine oocytes by including follicular fluid in the in vitro maturation medium.
  3. To characterize the gene expression and epigenetics alterations in cryopreserved and in vitro matured bovine and porcine oocytes by comparison with their in vivo counterparts
  4. To analyse if the gene expression and epigenetics alterations derived of ART procedures are restored in the offspring from embryos produced in vitro with or without reproductive fluids.