João Luis Silva Carvalho began his academic career in 1978 as Assistant of Gynecology and obtained his PhD degree in 1996 in the area of Gynecology and Obstetrics, with the study: “Endometrium and ovarian functions: Morphologic and Hysteroscopic aspects.” He acquired the title of Specialist in Gynecology and Obstetrics in 1993 and during his professional carrier received the National Award for Gynecology, introduced the Diagnostic and Surgical Endoscopy at the Department of Gynecology/Obstetrics in the Hospital of the Faculty of Medicine of Porto, and later was responsible for the Unities of Endoscopy and of Reproductive Medicine.
He directed his professional and scientific careers to the fields of Endoscopy and of Reproductive Medicine, published scientific articles in journals and chapters in books, received several awards for posters and free communications in congresses, contributed to the Portuguese legislation in ART and performed the study of characterization of infertility in Portugal - Knowledge, concepts, attitudes, needs and accessibility to IVF centers in the country. He is or was member of Directory or Scientific Boards of Journals (“Ginecologia e Medicina da Reprodução”; “Acta Obstetrica e Ginecologica”; “Jornal Brasileiro de Reprodução Assistida”; “Revista Iberoamericana de Fertilidade Y Reproduccion Humana”; “Gynecological Surgery – Endoscopy, Imaging and Allied Techniques”) and integrated the Committee that established the program and curriculum for the Sub-Specialty of Reproductive Medicine in Portugal.
He is involved in many National and International Scientific Societies (Member of the Directory Board of European Society for Gynecological Endoscopy - ESGE - 4 years; President of the Portuguese Society for Gynecological Endoscopy - 6 years; President of the 10th European Congress of Gynecological Endoscopy; General Secretary of the Portuguese Society for Gynecology - 12 years; Member of ESHRE since 1991; Member of the National Representative Committee of ESHRE - 4 years; President of the Portuguese Society for Reproductive Medicine - 6 years). Currently he is Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Faculty of Medicine of Porto, President of the “Royal College” of Gynecology and Obstetrics of Portugal, Clinical Director of the Centre for Study and Treatment of Infertility - CETI, and Director of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics of CUF Hospital, Porto, Portugal
Category of “OOCYTE VIABILITY ASSESSMENT”
Project: Utilization of biomarkers in human cumulus oophorus cells to improve oocyte selection and ART outcome.
Female factors are still main causes of infertility. Some relate to identifiable clinical entities, others appear hidden under “unexplained infertility”, but both have impact on oocyte ability for fertilization. In addition, oocyte/embryo quality is determinant for the success rates of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), still unsatisfactory despite all the progress made along three decades. To improve these scant results, reliable biomarkers of oocyte quality are expected to replace current morphological criteria and offer new diagnostic tools and better results in infertility and assisted procreation treatments.
While such markers are not identified in blood, we are convinced that molecular analysis of the oocyte environment is the answer and cumulus cells, which immediately envelope the oocyte, are the key.
After our earlier recognition of specific antioxidant enzyme activity, we are working in a wider approach. The strategy is to prepare extracts of cumulus oophorus cells and test them for an array of genes focused in oxidative stress and oocyte secretory factors. Gene expression, quantified mainly by RT-PCR, will be studied in cell extracts from women having well defined clinical/pathological conditions and ART outcomes.
Genes with wider amplitude of expression will be assessed in a larger sample of control women or having a diagnosed female fertility disorder. Controls are expected to provide data for the age- or disorder-related variation in gene expression. This is important theoretical and practical information, regarding the well-known decrement in oocyte quality and fertility success rates associated to those conditions.
The work employs fundamental science methods to assess clinical problems, an approach that our research team has privileged for the past 5 years.