Many people ask why our success rates are higher than other programs in New Jersey and around the US. The short answer is our IVF laboratory and the constant quality checks and state-of-the-art improvements that we make. Our laboratory closes down twice a year for quality control inspections to ensure that conditions are optimal for embryo development for every patient.
RMANJ’s laboratory team has been at the forefront of several innovations and improvements in IVF treatment including pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and extended embryo culture.
In October 2011, RMANJ presented data titled Cleavage Stage Embryo Biopsy Significantly Impairs Embryonic Reproductive Potential While Blastocyst Biopsy Does Not: A Novel Paired Analysis of Co-transferred Biopsied and Non-Biopsied Sibling Embryos that again demonstrated the significance of the IVF laboratory on successful outcomes.
The data demonstrated for the first time how the impact of when an embryo is biopsied for genetic testing can make a significant difference in outcomes. The impact of embryo biopsy on an embryo’s ability to develop and implant had never been studied as deeply and with as much scrutiny until 2011.
Historically, embryo biopsy for genetic disease screening prior to IVF has been conducted at day 3 (the cleavage stage) when only 6-8 cells have formed. Cleavage stage biopsy removes 1-2 cells or a proportionately large percentage of cells, reducing the embryo’s chances for implantation compared to Day 5, which uses a smaller percentage of cells for testing.
“More sophisticated techniques now allow biopsy on day 5, the blastocyst stage, when 200 or more cells are present. These data demonstrate that day 5 biopsy is much safer. The reason that day 5 biopsy does no apparent harm is that a dramatically smaller portion of the embryo is removed. Another reason is that the sample is taken from the outer layer of the embryo destined to form the placenta, called the trophectoderm (TE). The cells that form the baby are undisturbed, preserving the embryo’s true potential.” – Dr. Richard T. Scott, Jr., MD, FACOG, HCLD
RMANJ now only performs biopsy at Day 5 when 200 or more cells have developed, and cells are taken from then trophectoderm or outer layer of the embryo.
Kathleen Upham, BS
Supervisor, Embryology Laboratory
Kathleen Upham received her Bachelor of Science degree from University of Massachusetts Amherst. Kathleen began her embryology career in 1996 at Saint Barnabas, training under Jacques Cohen and Mina Alikani. She joined RMANJ as a lab supervisor in 2008 and was promoted to Director of Embryology in August 2009.
Kathleen is responsible for all functions of the clinical laboratory including in vitro fertilization, assisted hatching, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, testicular and epididymal sperm preparation, embryo biopsy, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, embryo cryogenics and the quality assurance and quality control programs. Kathleen has done extensive work in the area of stem cell research. She has co-authored numerous research journal articles in her field and is a member of both The New York Metropolitan Embryology Society and The American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Kathleen’s unparalleled attention to detail combined with insightful and intuitive lab management assures the highest quality of care for RMANJ’s patients. She is recognized by her peers as a gifted leader and teacher.
Andrew Ruiz, BS, MS, TS
Manager of the REI Endocrinology and Andrology Laboratory
Andrew has a background in biology, chemistry and biochemistry. For the past 18 years, he has been involved in reproductive (gametogenesis) biology. He has extensive research skills in cellular and hormonal biology which includes the isolation of hormone receptor molecules and the functional interaction with the endocrine and reproductive system. His duties include managing and supervising the daily operation of the Endocrine and Andrology laboratories and maintaining compliance with local, state and federal standards using state of the art cellular, molecular and chemiluminescent technology. He has experience in electrophoresis, molecular/genetic isolation technology, cellular isolation and identification of reproductive cells, and extensive cell culture knowledge in mammalian organisms.