Cryo 2011: Refining Fertility Preservation

Many young cancer patients prior to treatment undergo fertility preservation applications that utilize cryopreservation techniques such as egg banking, embryo banking and sperm banking. On July 24th – 27th, the 48th Annual Meeting for the Society of Cryobiology will be held at the LaSells Stewart Center on the campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.  Essentially, this is a meeting of scientists who study the biophysics and applications of freezing and thawing cells (human cells, plants cells, blood cells, etc…) to be thawed out later and used for various applications.  Cryobiologists attempt to get water outside of cells and instead fill them with cryoprotectants and then do the opposite process when they thaw cells or tissue out.

One of the Consortium’s members, Mary Zelinski, PhD is helping to organize a symposium on cryobiology in assisted reproductive technology with Steve Mullen, PhD speaking on oocyte cryopreservation. Steve Mullen is a scientist at 21st Century Medicine and trained in both cryobiology and reproductive physiology. According to Dr. Zelinski, “he understands both fields which is rare and this is a gap in training that would benefit fertility preservation.”

The Society of Cryobiology in general is small because few people work solely in cryopreservation as a career.  Cryo 2011 is an important conference because it’s essential to get the individuals who understand the physics behind cryopreservation together to work with other scientists in related fields.

The conference will have 7 keynote speakers on various topics including, anhydrobiosis and oocyte cryopreservation. The conference is also offering a limited number of student travel awards to offset the cost of travel, lodging and meeting registration fees.  To apply for a travel award, a student must submit an application form by April 25, and participate in one of the student presentation competitions. Finally, organizers of the conference are calling for abstracts. The deadline for submission is May 2nd. For more details on Cryo 2011, go to www.cryo-2011.org.