Illustration of sperm and egg cell

The Male Fertility Research Program

The impact of male partners on reproductive success is often overlooked, but in the Male Fertility Research Program at the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, we understand that the health of babies starts with the health of sperm prior to conception. We embrace the uniqueness of our local community and urban environment by providing an integrative “omics” approach to research- a rapidly evolving, multidisciplinary, and emerging field that encompasses genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. This allows us to understand the interaction of cell development with genetic, epigenetic, and environmental determinants of male fertility, with the goal of improving couples’ reproductive success. Through these efforts, we aim to deliver a personalized approach to reproductive health, with men as equal partners, that will ultimately transform the life course of children in Detroit and around the world.

Research Program
Illustration of Male Fertility Research Program

A Bold New Approach:
The Male Contribution to Reproductive Success

Infertility knows no boundaries, affecting the entire spectrum of society. The World Health Organization estimates that 186 million people worldwide are affected by infertility, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims at least 2 million U.S. couples are impacted. While infertility has been primarily treated for the female component of couples, approximately 50% of infertility can be attributed to the male partner. By harnessing the academic and clinical excellence that is the hallmark of the Wayne State University School of Medicine, the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development is poised to become the epicenter of world-class research on precision reproductive medicine. The Male Fertility Research Program transforms our understanding of the male contribution to reproductive success by examining:

Optimal Preconception Health

The preconception window, the period in which sperm or oocytes mature, is the earliest developmental period that affects both reproductive success and the overall health of infants. The Male Fertility Research Program aims to understand how the environment (chemical exposures, nutrition, stress, etc.) impacts the maturity of healthy sperm prior to conception, with the goal of optimizing the preconception environment to start any future children on the best health trajectory.

Biomarker Development through Genomic and Epigenomic Impacts

By providing an integrative “omics” research approach to identify novel biomarkers, we can come closer to predicting couples’ reproductive success and ensuring the birth of a healthy child. Another central research theme focuses on the transmission of paternal effects through sperm epigenetics and the resulting life course health of children. This strategy provides a path to disease prevention through early detection and precise intervention that goes hand in hand with mitigation.

Male Contraception

The burden of contraception use has consistently fallen on female partners. The Male Fertility Program is transforming this paradigm by identifying genes that play unique roles in sperm development in the adult male. This ground-breaking research aims to develop safe and effective male-focused contraceptive options.

Fertility as an individual’s marker of health status

A person’s fertility status mirrors their health and can be associated with a multitude of diseases, from cardiovascular to cancer and beyond. Yet, it can also provide early markers from which precise interventions can be prescribed. The Male Fertility Program continues to develop analysis capabilities, advancing the next generation of bioanalytic tools to create a routine scan for markers of known and emerging diseases. This is being developed to be used as part of a life course approach of underlying concerns individualized to you. Our goal is personalized early detection that enables precise effective treatment to optimize care.