Non-invasive selection of embryos – metabolomics and NI-PGT – Dr Santiago Munné, Yale University and Overture Life, USA

This talk will help delegates appreciate the uses and shortcomings of current invasive PGT, of non-invasive PGT and to evaluate the potential use of metabolomics.

Dr Santiago Munné gained his PhD in genetics from the University of Pittsburgh and joined Dr Jacques Cohen at Cornell University Medical College (NY), where he developed the first Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) method to detect chromosome abnormalities (1993), for which he received prizes in 1994 and 1995 by SART. Dr Munné became the Director of PGT at The Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of Saint Barnabas in 1995 where he developed the first test to detect chromosome translocations (1996 SART prize), as well as demonstrating a significant decrease in spontaneous abortions after PGT (1998 SART prize). His team and collaborators were the first to suggest and demonstrate higher implantation rates, lower rates of spontaneous abortions as well as trisomic offspring after PGT.

In 2001, Dr Munné co-founded Reprogenetics with Jacques Cohen and David Sable. He directed the company until 2016 and saw its expansion to four continents. Reprogenetics was the first US commercial PGT lab and the market leader until it was sold to in 2016 to Cooper Companies (NYSE: COO). During this time Reprogenetics performed over 100K PGT cycles and its research focused in using comprehensive genetic analysis of embryos to improve pregnancy outcomes and diminish the risk of miscarriages and inherited disorders. Dr Munné and co-researchers have been rewarded with SART or ASRM prize papers in 2005, 2015, 2016, and 2020, and he has received The ASRM Star Award consecutively for the years 2011-2020.

In 2011 Dr Munné co-founded with Alex Bisignano the genomics company Recombine offering carrier screening for over 300 genes. Part of the company was sold in 2016 also to Cooper Companies (NYSE: COO), and the rest spun off as Phosphorous, a genomics company co-founded by Dr Munné and Alex Bisignano, which recently launched a comprehensive germ-line panel of 400 genes (Phosphorus-One). In addition, in 2017 Dr Munné co-founded MedAnswers with CEO Alice Crisci, an infertility digital health platform connecting patients with specialists. With the CooperSurgical purchase of Reprogenetics, Recombine and Genesis Genetics, in 10/2016 Dr Munné’s became the Chief Scientific Officer of CooperGenomics, a title that he held until Dec 2017 when he joined with Martin Varsavsky and Joson Horcajadas to co-found Overture Life, a company focused on automating the ART Laboratory. He is also an adjunct professor at Yale University Dept of Ob/Gyn and Reprod Sci., and is co-founder of HoMu, a company accelerator focused on early-stage biomedical research.

Current research interests are non-invasive screening of embryos and automation of assisted reproduction technologies to avoid errors and provide consistency and better outcomes. Dr Munné has published over 260 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and is a frequent lecturer, both nationally and internationally. He is Co-founder of the Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis International Society (PGDIS) and has served as President and BOD. He is also serving in several BOAs and BODs of private companies.

Big Data – promise and pitfalls – Timandra Harkness, Writer and Broadcaster, UK

This talk will cover:
• What Big Data can tell us.
• What Big Data cannot tell us.
• How to tell the difference.

Timandra Harkness writes and presents BBC Radio 4 documentaries including Data, Data Everywhere, Supersense Me and Divided Nation, and the series FutureProofing, How To Disagree and forthcoming Steelmanning.

Timandra formed the UK’s first comedy science double-act with neuroscientist Dr Helen Pilcher and has performed scientific and mathematical comedy from Adelaide, Australia to Pittsburgh, USA. Her Edinburgh Festival Fringe hits include Your Days Are Numbered: the maths of death, Brainsex, and Take A Risk.

Timandra is a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, and a member of their Special Interest Group on Data Ethics. Her book Big Data: does size matter? was published by Bloomsbury Sigma in 2016.