2022 Student Scholarship Winner: Masroor Sagheer

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Published on: December 6, 2022

I want to start by congratulating the entire AETA team that made this year’s meeting a huge success. It was a pleasure to be able to interact with and learn from the experiences of the leaders of the embryo transfer industry.

I am a veterinarian from Pakistan and am currently pursuing my PhD in reproductive physiology and embryology at the University of Florida. Hailing from the fourth-largest milk-producing (61 million tons) country in the world, I intended to come to the US and equip myself with state-of-the-art skills in the field of embryology so that I could improve the local breeds of cows and buffaloes in Pakistan. As a graduate student, the rigorous training I am getting at the University of Florida in designing research and data analysis will help me set new standards of research and teaching embryology in Pakistan. However, I still needed a better understanding of the field application of embryology to uplift the nascent embryo industry in Pakistan. Therefore, I applied for a student scholarship to learn the best embryo production practices on a commercial scale. My other inspiration for attending the AETA conference was to learn the basics of laparoscopic AI in small ruminants. The thought-provoking and encouraging talks from Drs. Rachael Gately and David Matsas on laparoscopic AI were an absolute delight. The knowledge sharing in terms of synchronization protocols, anesthesia protocols, and basic handling of a laparoscope was very much appreciated. I am sure that the learning points from this session will be very helpful in the successful execution of my PhD projects.

I was delighted to learn the results of recombinant FSH from Dr. Scott Jaques. I am hopeful that, in a few years, we will see more data on recombinant FSH usage in dairy cows. It would be great to know their findings, as the availability of a recombinant FSH would reduce the cost of superovulation in conventional flush and superstimulation in ovum pickup-based IVF embryo transfer programs. The lessons from the session on slaughterhouse beef embryo production by Alex Blonski and Dr. Brady Hicks could potentially open a lot of new opportunities for research and business. As researchers, we have always struggled with embryo transfer from slaughterhouse embryos due to the unknown genetics of the female animals. However, the availability of a slaughterhouse exclusively for Angus cows (as mentioned by Dr. Hicks) can certainly eliminate this issue and help researchers design more controlled experiments on pregnancy success rates of IVF embryos. Beef on dairy is one of the hot topics in the dairy industry these days, and I was amazed to see the data on thousands of beef embryo transfers in dairy cows by Dr. Clint Walhof.

The success story of a small-scale ovum pickup setup by Dr. Bethany J. Funnel at the CETA/ACTE session gave me a lot of confidence to start an embryo transfer practice on my return to Pakistan. I realized that it is possible to get great outcomes from a small IVF lab by strictly utilizing good lab practices. A session on basic IVF laboratory requirements and composition of different IVF media by Dr. Jacob Thundathil was extremely helpful in understanding the biology of the IVF process.

The insights and updates on sex semen technology from Dr. Pablo Juan Ross and Mike Donnelly made their sessions possibly the best of this year’s AETA conference. It was amazing to learn about the chronological advancements in sex semen technology and its use in IVF setups. The talk on donor management by Dr. Alvaro García-Guerra truly provided answers to a lot of practical questions in embryo transfer setups. The fact that increasing or decreasing the dose of FSH does not affect embryo production success would offer ease in the application of FSH by farmers. An exclusive discussion during the IVF lab procedures and updates session was very thoughtful. Being aware of the constraints of an IVF lab is equally important for a successful embryo transfer. Lastly, the session on human IVF from Dr. Eduardo Kelly beautifully highlighted the importance of several lab-end critical factors for smooth embryo production.

There were a lot of great questions raised during the meeting that caught my attention. As academicians, I think we need to work more on improving embryo cryopreservation and embryo recipient management, as there is a lot of room for advancement in these areas of bovine embryology. Overall, the AETA provided me with a great opportunity to interact with experts from industry and academia during social hours and the exclusive student–mentor lunch. It felt great to be among the pillars of this industry, and I am extremely grateful to the AETA for giving me this opportunity.

Masroor Sagheer

University of Florida

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