ESHRE News

10 March 2022

Latest update and actions ESHRE has undertaken

ESHRE is acknowledging the reproductive medical emergency in Ukraine. Fertility services could easily discontinue their elective ART treatments, and while patients find refuge, the safeguarding of all stored gametes and embryos can no longer be guaranteed in the light of rapidly unfolding events. Tens of thousands of infertile couples and individuals that have pursued oncology and fertility cryopreservation have stored reproductive material in the numerous ART clinics in Ukraine.

Such stored material is now at risk of demise due to lack of monitoring, security and continuous provision of liquid nitrogen.

ESHRE has taken the initiative to help clinics in Ukraine and neighboring countries identify pathways to safely move the stored gametes and embryos -with the appropriate documentation- outside of the conflict zone to safe European Tissue Establishments who are willing to accept them.


1 March 2022 - Update 3 March 2022

ESHRE condemns unprovoked assault on Ukraine

ESHRE shares concerns of the World Health Organisation for the health, safety and well-being of the people of Ukraine following the Russian government’s unprovoked assault.

ESHRE has many Ukrainian members, some of whom have already contacted the Society for support, and we are honoured to pledge our commitment to the people of Ukraine.

ESHRE is an international organisation whose ethical judgements have always been based on responsible science and a duty of care to patients. We condemn the aggressive behaviour of the Russian government which impedes our colleagues in Ukraine and elsewhere from fulfilling their medical duties and helping patients in need of medical care.

ESHRE also shares the outrage of many academic and medical organisations condemning the aggression. We reaffirm the moral obligation of governments to ensure that the medical profession can freely continue its care for patients without the threat of violence.

Now, as the attacks on Ukrainian cities intensify, we have heard from the President and Vice-President of the Ukrainian Association of Reproductive Medicine to learn that a perinatal centre and a maternity hospital had been attacked. Such unprovoked aggression subverts every scientific and ethical principle on which ESHRE stands and it leaves us little choice but to dissociate the Society from organisations and institutions in Russia and Belarus. We recognise that not all ESHRE members and colleagues in Russia and Belarus support the assault on Ukraine, and we will not prevent their individual access to relevant medical information or scientific knowledge. But our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine at this tragic time.



28 February 2022

David Tennent Baird CBE, BA, MBChB, DSc, FRCOG, FRCP Edin, FMedSci, FRSE

David BairdDavid Baird, one of the UK’s most eminent figures in the field of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive biology, died on 12th February 2022 at the age of eighty-six. During a long and productive career, he made seminal contributions to the developing field of Reproductive Endocrinology, established the MRC unit of Reproductive Biology involving both basic and clinical scientists and pioneered safe methods of Medical Abortion. He was a passionate advocate for the health and rights of women and for women in medicine. His many internationally recognised scientific and clinical contributions have had an enormous impact on women’s healthcare and on the careers of colleagues everywhere. He was a supporter of the work and objectives of ESHRE, particularly in the early years.

David Baird was born in Glasgow in 1935 into a medical family. His father, Sir Dugald Baird, was Regius Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen. He studied at the Universities of Aberdeen, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, graduating in medicine in 1959. His early clinical training was in endocrinology, and obstetrics and gynaecology, in Edinburgh and London. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE).

David Baird embraced the developing science of reproductive endocrinology in the 1960’s when, appointed to a prestigious research fellowship at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Massachusetts, he began his life-long interest in experimental reproductive biology and the use of animal models to answer crucial research questions. He played a leading role in the development of the first chemical assays for the measurement of the sex-hormones oestradiol and oestrone and working with Tait at the Worcester he explored the biology of steroid pre-hormones. He studied the hitherto unrecognised roles for prostaglandins in reproduction, demonstrating the phenomenon whereby prostaglandin F2a from the uterus reached the ovary to bring about luteolysis. These and other discoveries were to have invaluable applications, in both human and animal reproduction.

In 1968, he returned to Edinburgh and two years later was promoted to senior lecturer and consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Royal Infirmary. In 1972, with Roger Short FRS, he established the Medical Research Council (MRC) Reproductive Biology Unit and was Deputy Director until 1977 when he was appointed Professor and Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Edinburgh. Then from 1985 until his retirement in 2000, he was MRC Clinical Research Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology.

In Edinburgh, his further original research contributed to the elucidation of basic biological mechanisms in the control and function of the human gonads and the gametes they produce, relevant to the early development of assisted reproduction techniques, including ovulation induction and in vitro fertilisation. He made a telling contribution to the understanding of the regulation of ovarian follicle selection and development. His pioneering development of a unique method of studying the ovary in the sheep by transplanting it to an accessible site on the animal’s neck, led to major advances in understanding of the regulation and function of the ovary. Also using the sheep, he and colleagues established the cryopreservation of ovarian tissue and demonstrated the retention of its gamete and hormone producing capacities, a pivotal contribution which has transformed the lives of young cancer survivors.

He was passionate about the globally important issue of fertility control and pursued widening the options for contraception and safe medical abortion, pioneering the use of prostaglandins and then, crucially, progesterone receptor antagonists. In 1995 he led the establishment of the Contraceptive Development Network (CDN), with funding from the MRC and the Department for International Development, to harness international collaborations in Africa and China to deliver novel approaches to contraception, including hormonal methods in men.

David Baird’s many internationally recognised scientific and clinical contributions have had a huge impact on women’s healthcare and on the careers of colleagues in his discipline worldwide. He established many international collaborations, particularly with reproductive scientists in Australia, developed during a sabbatical there. He wrote over four hundred peer-reviewed scientific publications and was editor of several books on reproduction. He pursued his belief of the need for improved understanding of human reproductive biology and its translation to benefit individual patients. And he engaged the government, the medical profession and the public in the ethical and scientific debates surrounding these fundamental scientific advances. While he could appear intimidating in scientific meetings, he was always congenial and had a refined sense of humour. His advice, encouragement and counsel were greatly valued by all those who collaborated with him.

His many clinical and research achievements have received widespread recognition. He was awarded the Marshall Medal of the Society for the Study of Fertility, the Dale Medal of the Endocrine Society, and the Eardley Holland Gold Medal of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He was appointed Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and created Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000 for services to obstetrics and gynaecology.

ESHRE also recognizes David Baird’s many valuable contributions as an invited speaker and moderator at many of its meetings. He was also the Chair of the Local Organising Committee of ESHRE’s 13th Annual Meeting, held in Edinburgh in 1997. In 2002, he was bestowed an ESHRE Honorary Membership as a tribute to his many achievements and in recognition of his work in the field of reproductive medicine and science.

David Baird had a lifelong love of Scottish mountains and the great outdoors, and he and his wife Anna always offered the warmest of welcomes at their cottage above Loch Tummel in the Scottish Highlands. He will be greatly missed by many and those who knew him will hold treasured memories of a quite exceptional man.

Alan Templeton CBE, MD, FRCOG, FRCP, FRCPE, FMedSci

 


14 December 2021

European Atlas of Fertility Treatment Policies

The Atlas is a project between Fertility Europe and The European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive rights, which scores and color-codes the different European countries with regards to their fertility treatment policies. ESHRE was involved in the development of the Atlas, and the data used to construct it originates from the ‘Legislation and reimbursement” paper.

Anita Fincham, Manager of Fertility Europe stated that “Every country deserves to be a perfect country with good regulations granting equal, safe and efficient access to fertility treatment to all who need it; good regulations that consider rights and wellbeing of all parties involved including children and donors. Fertility treatment should be offered as part of health system without discrimination against sexual orientation and civil status. This Atlas is to support the European and national policymakers in understanding how to make their country perfect.”

 


15 October 2021

Joy Delhanty 1937-2021
Her colleague Joyce Harper, a former Chair of the PGT Consortium, pays tribute

It is a great sadness to report the death of Professor Joy Delhanty, who passed away on 1 October after a short illness. Joy was Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London and was one of the pioneers of preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). She was an inspirational colleague during the formation of ESHRE’s SIG Reproductive Genetics in 1994 (ESHRE’s first SIG) and three years later the PGD Consortium.

After graduating in zoology from University College London, Joy joined the Galton Laboratory for Human Genetics and there discovered the first human triploid embryo and the first example of chromosome translocation leading to familial Down syndrome. Later, with her work progressing naturally to genetic diagnosis in preimplantation embryos, the application of dual fluorescent in situ hybridisation with X and Y specific probes led in 1993 to the birth of the first baby correctly sexed by FISH.

The information that her group gained with PGD by FISH and later by CGH (comparative genomic hybridisation) revealed the full extent of the exceptionally high frequency of chromosomal mosaicism in cleavage stage human embryos. This had important implications not only for PGD but for understanding the significance and origin of chromosomal defects in the human. It also provided an explanation for the high failure rate of so many IVF treatment cycles.

In October 1993 Joy became Director of the Clinical Cytogenetics Unit of University College London, and, with establishment of the UCL Centre for PGD with Joyce Harper in 1997, her group continued to report chromosome anomalies in oocytes and in particular the extent of gonadal or germinal mosaicism.

Joy supervised 25 successful PhD students, obtained 27 research grants and published over 180 peer reviewed papers. Her students included Dagan Wells, Darren Griffin, Sioban SenGupta, Elpida Fragouli, Mara Simopoulou and many more.




30 September 2021

A new address for ESHRE’s Central Office

ESHRE has new headquarters. After 17 years at its former premises in the Brussels suburb of Grimbergen, ESHRE has moved its Central Office to a new address and can now be found at

BXL7 - Building 1
Nijverheidslaan 3, 1st floor
B-1853 Strombeek-Bever, Belgium


The new premises are part of a larger office block, still on the edge of Brussels and not far from the ring road, with good access by public transport. There’s lots of natural light, says ESHRE’s managing director Bruno Van Den Eede, with more room for an ever growing staff and ESHRE’s frequent business and committee meetings. When the Society moved into its Grimbergen office in 2004, there were three full-time staff members; presently, there are 19.

With a relaxation of pandemic restrictions in Belgium, staff members are now operating on a mixed scheme of two days in the office and three working from home, which, by the end of October, will change to three in the office and two at home. The changes, adds Van Den Eede, will hopefully be the prelude to a more open educational programme in 2022 in which Campus workshops and the annual meeting are staged as live in-person/hybrid events.




14 June 2021

Lars Hamberger 1939-2021

ESHRE is saddened to learn of the death of Lars Hamberger, emeritus professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and a founding member of the Society. Lars had attended the earliest formative meetings of ESHRE, and had joined the scientific committee for its first annual meeting in Bonn. From 1985 he represented Sweden on ESHRE’s first advisory committee, and in 1987 was elected to the Society’s second (and later third) executive committee.

Alongside his colleague Matts Wikland, Lars had established Sweden’s first IVF centre at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, where the Nordic region’s first IVF baby was born in 1982. He was appointed professor in O&G at Karolinska University hospital 1983 and a few years later returned to Gothenburg as professor of O&G at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, where his association with ESHRE – and his influence in IVF – continued to grow. Indeed, it was his work with Wikland which paved the way for one of IVF’s major steps forward; ultrasound-guided transvaginal oocyte retrieval would make IVF a less invasive procedure without laparoscopy, would improve success rates and help make IVF a more routine treatment.

Lars was local chairman of ESHRE’s 14th annual meeting in Gothenburg in 1998 and in 2011, at ESHRE’s 27th annual meeting in Stockholm, was awarded honorary ESHRE membership. Throughout this time he had also been an associate editor of Human Reproduction. Indeed, HR’s very first issue, published in January 1986, had featured as its cover illustration a macrophotograph in colour taken by Lars’s friend and colleague Lennart Nilsson, whose photographs were often presented at ESHRE meetings and illustrated their very successful book, A Child is Born, published in 1990.

His colleague in Gothenburg, Christina Bergh, remembers Lars as “unique in putting enthusiasm and inspiration into young doctors and scientists”. He also had an amazing ability, she says, to encourage people to do extraordinary things, such as persuading the director of Volvo to donate a new car as the poster prize at the ESHRE 98 annual meeting in Gothenburg.

ESHRE is now honoured to express its gratitude for the work of Lars Hamberger in the history of the Society and IVF and its condolences to his family and colleagues.

Stockholm 2011: Lars Hamberger receives his honorary membership of ESHRE from then chairman Luca Gianaroli.

 



23 March 2021

All CAMPUS meetings for 2021 will now be held virtually

Despite hopes to the contrary, all ESHRE’s Campus workshops planned to take place for the remainder of 2021 will now be staged as virtual events. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Executive Committee on 19 March and in the face of continuing uncertainty over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision means that the following meetings, as others so far this year, will now take place virtually:

* 9-10 September: Reproductive tissue engineering and fertility preservation
* 30 September-1 October: The genetics of male infertility
* 25-26 November: Genetic counselling in preimplantation genetic testing (PGT)

All other Campus meetings scheduled for April and May will be held virtually as announced (/Education/Calendar-Campus-events).

Despite the technical challenges – for organisers and participants – nine Campus meetings have been successfully staged so far this year, each with more than 100 attending remotely and posting their questions with the same enthusiasm as at a live meeting. This format, while now confidently adopted by organisers, presenters and audience, will be continued for Campus workshops throughout 2021.

Commenting on the Executive Committee’s decision, ESHRE Chair Cristina Magli said: “Of course, it’s a disappointment to all of us. We had hoped that vaccination roll-outs and continuing social restrictions might make a live meeting possible later this year, but events have now overtaken us and we had no alternative but to extend our virtual programme. The good news is that we are still able to bring the best experts to our Campus workshops and that all of us are still able to learn from them.”

 



11 March 2021

Focus on Reproduction is looking for new writers

Focus on Reproduction, ESHRE’s online news magazine, is looking to recruit a new selection of young (or even not so young) Society members to join its writing team. So if you have an inkling to combine your specialist professional knowledge with a little public writing, here’s your chance.

Focus on Reproduction has a long history with ESHRE, shifting from its original print format to online in 2015. It now holds a prominent place on ESHRE’s homepage and app with full news coverage of developments in a range of specialities and ESHRE activities.

Stories are produced and edited to professional standards and our new recruits will be selected for their professional expertise and writing skills. All texts are written and presented in English, but mother-tongue English is not a requirement – all copy is edited before publication. Focus on Reproduction has always had a strong readership, and is recognised as a reliable news service from ESHRE.

Those who welcome the opportunity to extend their writing interests should in the first instance contact Simon Brown the editor ([email protected]) with a brief note of their interests and expertise.

 



10 February 2021

Another bumper crop of new research
More than 1300 abstracts submitted for ESHRE 2021

ESHRE’s 37th Annual Meeting, which will take place as an online congress from 26 to 30 June, promises its familiar feast of new research and distinguished invited lectures. More than 1300 abstracts were submitted before the February deadline, all of them reporting new research and reflecting an ever buoyant spirit in reproductive medicine.

‘We feared that lockdowns and clinic closures might cast a shadow over abstract submissions, so we are thrilled with this year’s response,’ said ESHRE Chair Cristina Magli. In fact there were about 500 fewer submissions than in the record-breaking live-meeting years, but the 1317 submissions this year will still provide a bumper crop of selected oral presentations and posters. Next stage in the submission process will be refereeing and selection, which as ever will be conducted according to ESHRE’s blind scoring protocol. Results will be available by 26 April 2021.

‘It’s encouraging to see that so much research is still going on during this pandemic,’ added Cristina Magli. ‘There have been reports that scientific research has not been so badly hit for many years. So submissions this year are a reassurance that our clinical and laboratory work goes on, if not quite as before.’ Last year around 12,000 registered to attend the annual meeting remotely, so abstracts selected for oral and poster presentation this year can once again be assured of a big audience. And in advance of that ESHRE thanks all those who submitted abstracts with such willingness to share their work.

Keep an eye on future meeting programme developments here.