Reproductive biology research down under: Highlights from the Australian and New Zealand Annual Meeting of the Society for Reproductive Biology, 2021
Reproduction, Fertility and Development
Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, the Society for Reproductive Biology (SRB) 2021 meeting reunited the Australian and New Zealand reproductive research community for the first time since 2019 and was the first virtual SRB meeting. Despite the recent global research disruptions, the conference revealed significant advancements in reproductive research, the importance of which span human health, agriculture, and conservation. A core theme was novel technologies, including the use of medical microrobots for therapeutic and sperm delivery, diagnostic hyperspectral imaging, and hydrogel condoms with potential beyond contraception. The importance of challenging the contraceptive status quo was further highlighted with innovations in gene therapies, non-hormonal female contraceptives, epigenetic semen analysis, and in applying evolutionary theory to suppress pest population reproduction. How best to support pregnancies, particularly in the context of global trends of increasing maternal age, was also discussed, with several promising therapies for improved outcomes in assisted reproductive technology, pre-eclampsia, and pre-term birth prevention. The unique insights gained via non-model species was another key focus and presented research emphasised the importance of studying diverse systems to understand fundamental aspects of reproductive biology and evolution. Finally, the meeting highlighted how to effectively translate reproductive research into policy and industry practice.
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