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Gamete and Embryo Biology Group

The focus of the Gamete and Embryo Group is on which functional pathways transmit parental health cues to the next generation, and understanding the characteristics of a ‘healthy’ egg and sperm.

Obesity in reproductive aged men and women has increased exponentially in the last three decades. Greater than 50% of women and men are now overweight or obese at conception. With obesity as a key driver, this generation is expected to be the first to live shorter lives than their parents. It is essential to understand which pathways transmit these parental environmental insults to their offspring, and to develop strategies to intervene in this cycle of poor health from generation to generation. 

Our research program investigates how obesity and sub-fertility impact the metabolic health and epigenetic markers in eggs, sperm and the preimplantation embryo, and then alter the growth and development of the offspring. We know that modifications to the molecular makeup of either the egg or sperm impacts the viability of the resultant embryo, but also programs growth in utero—which may influence disease risk in adulthood. Obesity and various lifestyle factors have been shown to change molecular markers in gametes. 

Our translational program is developing novel therapeutics that increase in vitro fertilisation (IVF) success rates and our research program findings are being used to develop new ideas in improving the success of IVF procedures. Our patents in human embryo culture media and vitrification underpin the procedures in IVF laboratories worldwide. The products we have developed sell millions of units per year and are revolutionising IVF procedures. 

Lead researcher: Professor Michelle Lane

Research team

Research support


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