Robert Sullivan, PhD

Professor, Université Laval

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Research interests

  • Andrology
  • Male infertility
  • Cellular physiology

Male infertility affects humans as much as domestic animals, especially dairy cattle, a species in which artificial insemination is widespread. Our work focuses on the epididymis, an organ of the male reproductive system that is responsible for the acquisition of the fertilizing power of spermatozoa. Based on andrological data, we hypothesized that dysregulations of epididymal function are involved in the pathophysiology of male infertility. We also propose that spermatic proteins of epididymal origin can serve as markers of the functionality of male gametes. Our work, which involves both man and bull, uses proteomic, genomic and cellular physiology techniques to characterize the changes that sperm undergo during their epididymal transit. We also believe that these epididymal markers of sperm functionality can document damage to spermatozoa during cryopreservation and can, therefore, determine the susceptibility of different bulls’ semen to cryopreservation. In humans, we have demonstrated that vasectomy affects epididymal function and that this damage is not always reversible following vasovasotomy, ie the recanalization of vas deferens in vasectomized men to restore their reproductive function. This could explain the dichotomy between the surgical success of the vasovasotomy and the return to fertility.

Members of the laboratory

Christine Légaré, MSc
Research assistant

Larissa Belardin, MSc
PhD student