Male infertility is on the rise, with significant declines in sperm quantity and quality occurring across the human population worldwide in the past two decades. The reason for this is poorly understood, and scientists suspect spermatogenesis, the process of how sperm develops, is a crucial piece in this puzzle.
Dr. Paula Cohen, professor of genetics at the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and associate vice provost for life sciences at Cornell, is leading the effort to solve this puzzle. Thanks to a multi-center, $8 million grant from the NIH National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Cohen and her collaborators will untangle the complex genetic rulebook for making sperm, while also looking for hidden causes of infertility related to spermatogenesis.
Cohen is director of the Cornell Reproductive Sciences Center (formerly the Center for Reproductive Genomics). This grant is aimed at understanding how RNA is regulated during spermatogenesis — how certain RNAs are made at certain times, and what might happen if they aren’t created in the right order, or at all.
“Spermatogenesis is an amazing process,” says Cohen. “There are so many steps the cell needs to go through, and each step has a very different genetic program.”
To learn more about this study, go to Cornell’s web site.