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International conference on reproductive science to be held in Pittsburgh July 18-22

PITTSBURGH, July 7 Many of the diseases that we develop as adults likely began in our mothers' wombs. This provocative idea and others-including the causes of infertility, the impact of the environment on maternal and fetal health, and new approaches to unraveling the molecular pathways that guide reproduction-will be among the topics discussed at the 42nd annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), which runs from July 18 to 22 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, downtown Pittsburgh.

The concept that the stage for diseases in adulthood could be set early in fetal development is intriguing, and perhaps even intimidating, said SSR president Asgerally T. Fazleabas, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. But, he noted, the same rationale also says that a healthy life must begin in the womb.

"Learning as much as we can about this critical time in development, and the influences upon it, has great potential for enhancing well-being at all ages," Dr. Fazleabas said. "More than 900 scientists, graduate students and post-doctoral trainees from 33 countries are expected to attend our Pittsburgh meeting, and we are all focused on understanding the science of reproduction, fertility and embryonic development."

The keynote address, "Chronic Disease Begins in the Womb," will be delivered at 4 p.m., Saturday, July 18, by David J.P. Barker, M.D., Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University and University of Southampton, after welcoming remarks from Dr. Fazleabas; Program Committee Chair Patricia Hunt, Ph.D., of Washington State University; and local chair Tony M. Plant, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

From Sunday, July 19 through Tuesday, July 21, morning sessions will include panels of experts discussing the latest research findings on a range of topics, such as fertility preservation, maternal effects on egg quality, new concepts in sperm function and fertility, and the genetic control of the reproductive process. State-of-the-art lectures will be presented in the afternoons by outstanding scientists working on the impact of obesity and reproductive health, the impact of the environment on reproductive cancers, and the potential of micro RNA therapy for diseases such as diabetes and other endocrine-associated diseases. The meeting concludes Wednesday, July 22, after a morning of scientific sessions.


Contact: Clare Collins
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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