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The MS-RSM offers two concentrations or focus areas of study for students on the thesis track: Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Fertility Preservation. These concentrations represent two major research strengths of the Northwestern Center for Reproductive Science.

Students with a concentration in Assisted Reproductive Technologies must take Medical Management of Fertility (REPR_SCI 415) and must select a mentor and complete a thesis research project focused on this topic.

Students with a concentration in Fertility Preservation must take Translational Topics in Fertility Preservation & Oncofertility (REPR_SCI 430) and must select a mentor and complete a thesis research project focused on this topic.

Fertility Preservation

Cancer patients are surviving their disease in increasing numbers, converting what was once a mortal diagnosis to a cure or a chronic illness. However, as survival rates increase, many patients are faced with off-target effects and complications of cancer treatment, including compromised reproductive function, ranging from destruction of gametes to the loss of pituitary and gonadal hormone production. It is in this setting that the discipline of oncofertility emerged, which blends the field of oncology with fertility. Oncofertility investigators are working to provide information about the iatrogenic effects of drugs on reproductive organs and to develop strategies that will preserve and restore reproductive function. Advances in the oncology arena are being paralleled by those in reproductive medicine and science, which together are continuously improving and expanding the fertility preservation repertoire for men, women and children. This lecture- and case studies–based course bridges basic science and clinical knowledge, to expose students to the translational advances in the field of oncofertility and fertility preservation.

REPR_SCI 430: Translational Topics in Fertility Preservation & Oncofertility

Spring, Chicago campus: This course provides students with professional and hands-on laboratory training and access to the most renowned experts in the field of oncofertility. Clinical and research training provides practical experience in the field and poises graduates to work in a number of roles in oncofertility and reproductive medicine upon completion of the program.

In additional to classroom and laboratory learning, the coursework is complimented with professional development opportunities, including the annual Oncofertility Conference, which gives students the chance to present their independent research during poster sessions and trainee podium talks and provides further access to collaborate and network with experts in the field from around the globe.

Course topics include:

  • Fertility preservation in different populations (adult women and men, pediatrics, transgender and disorders of sex development populations)
  • Tissue/cell processing methods (gamete and gonad harvesting, processing, cryopreservation and storage)
  • Clinical care (patient navigation conversations, consults, cancer agent risk factors, psychological factors)
  • Fundamental biology techniques (bioengineering gonadal bioprostheses, spheroids, microphysiologic platforms, follicle culture)
  • Ethical issues in oncofertility
  • Case studies

A basic understanding of cell and molecular biology is a prerequisite for this course in addition to prior completion of REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407. Completion of REPR_SCI 440 is also required so that students are familiar with the lab techniques that will be discussed in this course.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies

As the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) continues to increase across the globe, so too does the need for skilled workforce with expertise in reproductive science and medicine. The MS-RSM program at Northwestern University provides students with the ability to pursue advanced coursework in areas such as embryology and andrology and offers hands-on laboratory training in assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection and gamete cryopreservation.

REPR_SCI 415: Reproductive Endocrinology & Fertility Management

Spring, every year, ABC grading, 1 unit: This is a lecture and laboratory course that exposes students to ART, embryology and andrology. Course topics include gamete and embryo biology, assisted reproductive techniques and associated technologies, ethics and an introduction to fertility clinic operation. Acquired techniques include sperm analysis, sperm processing for ART, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, time-lapse morphokinetics, embryo biopsy, genetic screening gamete cryopreservation and thawing. A basic understanding of cell and molecular biology is a prerequisite for this course in addition to prior completion of REPR_SCI 405 and REPR_SCI 407.


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