Reproductive Biology and Development

The OHRI is one of the lead sites in Canada for the study of human reproductive health. Its research programs address important women's and infant health issues such as the etiology of male and female factor infertility, preeclampsia, preterm birth and environmental determinants of reproductive health. The research cuts across programs including Chronic Disease and Clinical Epidemiology, and is one of the Institute's best examples of "bench to bedside to community and back" research efforts.

OHRI scientists are investigating the effect of environmental toxins on reproductive health and are pursuing research that should lead to better outcomes for assisted reproductive technologies (ART). They are unlocking the genetics of infertility and conducting research into ways to prevent pregnancy complications such as small birth weight babies, stillbirths and toxemia - pregnancy-related high blood pressure that is one of the most dangerous complications of pregnancy.

The OHRI is the lead Canadian site for the largest Canadian research collaboration ever to address the problem of human egg health. The Program on Ooctye Health, a five-year, $2.8-million collaboration funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, involves 15 prominent investigators working in human reproduction. Researchers will study human egg maturation in the ovary, what can go wrong during ooctye development and the effects on pregnancy and the long-term health of the baby when eggs are manipulated early during development. The project will provide the first data on the safety of ART techniques for Canadians.

OHRI scientists are also exploring the role of "cell survival" and "cell death" genes involved in ovarian follicle growth and demise and placental development, research that may lead to new therapies for the treatment of female infertility and the prevention of pregnancy complications. Other investigations include embryonic development, the cellular and molecular interactions between sperm and eggs, the development of new contraceptives, including male contraceptives, and ovarian dysfunction and cancer with advancing age.