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Researcher Spotlight: Heidi Cook-Andersen, MD, PhD

By Tonya Carey posted 02-24-2023 09:23

Heidi Cook-Andersen, MD, PhD

Grant Project Title: Defining the molecular basis of successful implantation and pregnancy of the human embryo to improve IVF success

Grant Amount: $666,000

Significance: Failed implantation is a major factor limiting IVF success, even for euploid embryos. However, what is required at the molecular level for successful implantation of the human embryo remains largely unknown. In this proposal, we aim to identify lineage-specific factors and cell-cell interactions most closely associated with the earliest stages of implantation development in humans using single-cell RNAseq and bioinformatic approaches. In parallel, we are working develop a stem-cell based, in vitro model of the human embryo that recapitulates the earliest stages of implantation to rigorously test the role of candidate factors and interactions identified in the embryo. Together, these integrated models have the potential to provide much needed insight into the molecular mechanisms required for successful implantation and to focus advances in embryo culture and embryo selection to improve infertility treatment for our patients.  
"I cannot express enough how grateful I am to the ASRM Research Institute for grant funding for this project. One of the greatest motivating factors throughout my training and career is to improve IVF success by advancing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms required for the earliest stages of human development. However, it is extremely difficult to obtain funding for this research as it is not supported by federal funding. In fact, the ASRM Research Institute is one of the only sources of funding for these projects, and the work we are doing would absolutely not be possible without it. The Institute’s commitment to fill this gap is invaluable to provide the support needed to make the next advances in care for our patients and to support the careers of scientists and physicians dedicated to performing this research.” 

Heidi Cook-Andersen, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Reproductive Medicine and Biological Sciences
University of California, San Diego