In vitro gametogenesis

Within this line of research, the 'Reproductive Medicine Research Group' focuses on the in vitro generation of germ cells. Research is always conducted under the supervision of prof. dr. Björn Heindryckx en dr. Annekatrien Boel (post-doc).

Research projects

Human embryonic stem cell research

Human embryonic stem cell research involves deriving pluripotent embryonic stem cells from human embryos, optimizing the culture conditions to obtain an optimal pluripotency state, and finally in vitro differentiation of these embryonic stem cells into reproductive cells.


Development of ova from ovarian tissue

Fertility preservation is offered to patients facing fertility threatening treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer. Within this context, oocytes or/and ovarian tissue are frozen for future use. In this research project, it is determined, both in mice and humans, whether it is possible to develop functional and quantitative oocytes from ovarian tissue in vitro, starting from immature follicles. Furthermore, immature oocytes collected during the process of ovarian tissue cryopreservation, are analyzed, following in vitro maturation, for their competency to serve as functional gametes.  

We perform a number of quality tests on the in vitro matured oocytes, including calcium imaging, spindle staining, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) followed by embryo development and chromosomal analysis of the subsequent embryos. Furthermore, we are investigating the use of nuclear transfer technology, to overcome poor embryonic development in this group of oocytes. For this purpose, donor oocytes are used as cytoplasmic recipients of the genetic material of in vitro matured oocytes.


  • Center for Medical Genetics Ghent (CMGG), Ghent University (Prof. Paul Coucke, Prof. Björn Menten, Prof. Frank Speleman, Prof. Elfride Debaere)
  • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ghent University (Prof. Filip Van Nieuwenburgh, Prof. Dieter Deforce)
  • Medical Cell Biology, Ghent University (Prof. Jolanda Van Hengel)
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University (Prof. Ann Van Soom, Prof. Luc Peelman)
  • Leiden University Medical Center (Prof. Susana Chuva de Sousa Lopes)



  • Björn Heindryckx, principal investigator

+32 9 332 47 48

  • Annekatrien Boel, postdoctoral researcher

+32 9 332 52 76