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Reproductive technology work changes career path

Mike Neal, co-founder and scientific director of ONE FertilityA decision to return to the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) for graduate studies changed Mike Neal’s career direction. After completing a B.Sc. in biological science with a minor in biomedical sciences, he applied for a job in the U.S. Although he already had a strong skill set, the interviewer asked why he wasn’t considering graduate work at OVC and U of G, “the centre of the universe for reproductive technology.” 

That decision and resulting graduate work in Prof. Allan King’s lab in OVC’s Department of Biomedical Sciences ultimately led him to work in human IVF. Neal became the co-founder and scientific director of ONE Fertility, a full-service human fertility clinic established in 2008. The first clinic opened in Burlington in 2009, with satellite clinics in Windsor, Oakville and Mississauga. Another full-service clinic opened in Kitchener in 2013. 

Neal oversees all laboratory operations, including endocrinology, andrology and IVF. With a primary interest in the field of embryology, he works in both the IVF and andrology labs. “This is a growing area,” he says. “Awareness of fertility issues is greater today than it has ever been.” 

He adds that OVC is a world leader in reproductive technologies. “My M.Sc. degree not only provided me with a sound knowledge of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), it also provided me the tremendous opportunity to gain valuable experience handling animal gametes (sperm and oocytes) and embryos.” 

There are many connections between human and animal reproductive health. Most ARTs are tried first with animal models, says Neal. 

He maintains a close connection to OVC, such as through ongoing research opportunities with biomedical sciences researchers investigating non-invasive assessment of embryo quality and microRNAs as indicators of embryo health. 

Career paths are not always straight lines, Neal adds. "If you look at Allan King's graduates, the diversity of their careers and where they have landed related to their studies is a result of their training. His students are really making a mark.

(Photo: Mike Neal, co-founder and scientific director of One Fertility)

 

As seen in the Spring issue of the OVC alumni newsletter the Crest.

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