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Chen named SSR Rising Star

Haiqi Chen, Ph.D.
Haiqi Chen, Ph.D.

Haiqi Chen, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences and of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is among eight researchers worldwide selected as 2024 Rising Stars by the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR).

Chosen for their research innovation, publication record, and contributions to the scientific community, Rising Star investigators are invited to present their research to the SSR membership and broader reproductive biology research community during the Rising Stars in Reproductive Biology webinar series.

“This opportunity means that the field is recognizing the hard work by our lab’s talented trainees,” Dr. Chen said. “Our research has introduced a new way to systematically understand how the proliferation and differentiation of spermatogonial stem cells – the stem cells that give rise to sperm – are regulated in the native tissue context.”

Dr. Chen presented “Spatially Resolved, Functional Dissection of the Spermatogonial Stem Cell Niche” during the March 6 SSR online seminar. He discussed how new technologies such as spatial transcriptomics, which allows the measurement of gene activities in a tissue sample, could provide new insights into previously unanswered questions.

Male infertility represents a serious global health issue, he said. Assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), can achieve successful reproduction, but fertility preservation with cryopreserved sperm is not feasible for all patients, including prepubertal boys with cancers. While these young patients often choose to cryopreserve a portion of their testicular tissues before initiating chemotherapy or radiation treatments, fertility restoration using human spermatogonial stem cells is still challenging.

“We do not know how to propagate and differentiate human spermatogonial stem cells into mature sperm in a dish,” Dr. Chen explained. “Our research may help to fill the gap in knowledge of the detailed molecular mechanisms governing the proliferation and differentiation of human spermatogonial stem cells, therefore facilitating the clinical efforts of fertility restoration and infertility treatment worldwide.”

Dr. Chen’s research is supported by the Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences Endowment Fund and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Chen joined the UTSW faculty in late 2021. He received his Ph.D. in molecular endocrinology through a joint program between the University of Hong Kong and the Population Council at Rockefeller University and completed postdoctoral training at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

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