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Rodrigo Garcia Barros graduated in September of 2016 in Animal biotechnology science master’s degree at Universidade Estadual Paulista “Julio de Mesquita Filho” - UNESP (Brazil; Tutor: Prof. Dr. José Buratini) with the thesis entitled “Influence of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) during in vitro maturation of bovine cumulus oocyte complexes” and graduated in Veterinary Medicine at the same University in December of 2013. His research interests are mainly in molecular biology and manipulation of the oocyte in vitro and in vivo through the development of follicular synchronization protocols, focusing on the improvement of the culture system strategies.










Alberto M. Luciano, MSc., PhD, graduated in 1991 at University of Milan. He completed a PhD program in Biotechnology applied to Veterinary Sciences at University of Milan and a Post-Doctorate appointment in Reproductive Physiology at University of Connecticut, School of Medicine, CT, USA. He is associate professor of Anatomy and Histology, at the Department of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety, University of Milan, and team leader of the Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory ( ). Research interests focus on the mechanisms that regulate mammalian oocyte development. Details on ongoing projects, active collaborations and recent scientific publications at RedbioLab web site (


Title: Development of a new oocyte in vitro maturation strategies to enhance the outcome of assisted reproductive technologies

Oocyte developmental competence is acquired progressively throughout folliculogenesis and during the final stages of follicle growth right before ovulation (Dieleman et al. 2002). Oocytes recovered for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and in vitro embryo production (IVP) are still immature and thus are first subjected to a culture step known as in vitro maturation (IVM). IVM has been considered the main technological bottleneck for artificial reproductive technologies, as it still fails to promote oocyte developmental competence as achieved in vivo (Rizos et al. 2001). The challenge is even bigger for oocytes originated from early antral follicles (<2 mm in diameter), which have not yet acquired competence to spontaneously resume meiosis (Pavlok et al. 1992, Blondin & Sirard 1995). The development of a culture system capable of making competent oocytes from early antral follicles attracts great interest because it would drastically increase the number of utilizable gametes from valuable animals from a production or preservation point of view. In addition, in the clinical practice this can be particularly important in treating women infertility and decrease the use of hormones in stimulatory treatments for IVF cycles.

The aim of this study is to develop a sequential culture system that mimics the physiological environment accompanying the oocyte from the early antral to the preovulatory stage of follicle development that can enhance oocyte embryonic developmental competence in IVM/IVF protocols for cattle. A combination of pre-maturation (pre-IVM) and IVM media recently shown by our group able to enhance cumulus-oocyte communication, to slow meiosis dynamics and to improve embryo quality (Soares et al. 2017) will be used as the basic concept for this new culture system. A series of experiments has been designed to assess the effects of the pre-IVM and IVM culture steps on oocyte-cumulus communication, oocyte growth and transcriptional activity, oocyte chromatin remodeling and nuclear maturation dynamics, cumulus expansion and ultimately on oocyte developmental competence acquisition as assessed by in vitro embryo production following IVF and pregnancy after transfer. The study will gain insights from retrospective in-silico analysis of bovine oocyte, cumulus cells and embryo transcriptomic data, generated in collaboration with the EmbryoGENE Network ( (Dieci et al., 2016).

The research program will take advantage also from the expertise of Prof. José Buratini Jr., head of the Laboratory of Ovarian Molecular Physiology of the Department of Physiology, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil, acting as co-tutor. An International Cooperation Agreement (2016-2021) and a Technology Transfer agreement (PCT/2016/90005) are already ongoing between the two institutions.

(Project page on Redbiolab:

UNIMI research team: R. Barros, F. Franciosi (scientific advisor), V. Lodde, A.M. Luciano (tutor)

UNESP research team: C.A. Soares, J.N. Sakoda, J. Buratini (co-tutor)