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Professor Carl Spiessens

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Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium

Dr Carl Spiessens received his PhD in 1991 and his MD in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1984, both from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He has been Director of the Laboratory of the Leuven University Fertility Center since 2001 and Certified Senior Clinical Embryologist of ESHRE since 2008. Dr Spiessens is currently Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and his main field of research is morphological parameters within embryo selection.

About Dr Spiessen’s GFI Project

Single-embryo transfer (SET) is the most effective way to reduce the incidence of multiple pregnancies. SET remains unpopular however, since it might reduce the pregnancy rate compared to the transfer of 2 or more embryos. Transferring a single embryo makes the embryo selection process very important.  Until now, embryo selection has been solely based on the morphology of the embryo: a non-invasive and fast method with little impact on the embryo development. However, the assessment of the morphology has limitations; it remains subjective and some development parameters, such as the cell to cell contact between blastomeres, are extremely difficult to evaluate by classic microscopy.

Dr Spiessens’ winning project - Selecting the embryo with the highest implantation potential using novel non-invasive methods - has, for the first time, demonstrated that implantation after SET can be better predicted based on computerised analysis of stored multilevel images compared to classical visual assessment. These stored images also allow you to perform innovative 3D modelling to evaluate cell to cell contact between blastomeres. The project aims to select the embryo with the highest implantation potential, using a unique combination of a complete set of morphologic and developmental parameters, 3D modelling of the embryo and the peptidomic fingerprint of the follicular environment of the oocyte, to predict implantation and live birth rate in a unique clinical setting (SET). Efficient selection of the embryo with the highest implantation potential will increase the implantation rate in the total IVF population, keeping the pregnancy rate high while at the same time reducing the multiple pregnancy rates.