International Summer School of H2020-TWINN-2015 WIDENLIFE project (Grant No 692065) and SEARMET project (Grant No 692299)

We are happy to announce that the two H2020-TWINN-2015 projects WIDENLIFE (Grant No 692065) and SEARMET (Grant No 692299) are organizing an International Summer School on topic "Single-cell and low-input methodologies in reproductive biology". It will take place in Tartu, Estonia from June 13-14th 2017.

Venue: Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu, Omicum building, Riia 23b/2, auditorium 105.

More information about the Summer School and registration available at: . The registration is open until the 5th of June 2017.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

10:30-11:00 Welcome coffee
11:00 Opening words, Professor Ants Kurg, University of Tartu and Professor Ülle Jaakma, Estonian University of Life Sciences

I session:
11:10-11:55 Ann Van Soom, PhD, Ghent University, Belgium “Emerging role of extracellular vesicles in communication of preimplantation embryos in vitro
11:55-12:40 Martin Anger, PhD, CEITEC, Czech Republic “Challenges of chromosome segregation in oocytes and early embryos in mammals
12:40-14:00 Lunch break (lunch with invitations)

II session:
14:00-14:45 Jennifer Southcombe, PhD, and Ingrid Granne, PhD, University of Oxford, United Kingdom “Paternal and maternal immunological factors in the peri-implantation endometrium14:45-15:30 Mariann Koel, MSc, University of Tartu, Estonia “The interactome of human embryo implantation
15:30-16:00 Coffee break III session: 16:00-16:45 Nathalie Brison, PhD, University of Leuven, Belgium „Non-invasive prenatal testing: clinical and biological challenges
16:45-17:30 Eftychia Dimitriadou, PhD, University of Leuven, Belgium “Genome-wide approaches for preimplantation genetic diagnosis and screening

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

09:30-10:00 Welcome coffee

IV session:

10:00-10:45 Joris Vermeesch, PhD, University of Leuven, Belgium “The embryo is the cradle of chromosomal disorders, chimaerism and mixoploidy
10:45-11:30 Olga Tšuiko, MSc, University of Tartu, Estonia “Unravelling chromosomal instability in mammalian preimplantation embryos"
11:30-12:15 Ene Reimann, PhD, University of Tartu, and Monika Nõmm, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia “Bovine embryo genomics using NGS
12:15-14:00 Lunch break (lunch with invitations)

V session:
14:00-14:45 Jan Ole Bertelsen Secher, PhD, University of Copenhagen, Denmark “In vivo testing of porcine iPSC
14:45-15:30 Björn Heindryckx, PhD, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent University, Belgium “In vitro generated gametes from stem cells: to be or not to be
15:30-16:00 Coffee break
16:00-16:45 Mait Metspalu, PhD, Estonian Biocentre, Estonia “Reconstructing population histories from genetic diversity patterns
Closing remarks


Funded by the European Union through the Coordination and Support Action of the H2020 programme under grant agreement No 692065 „Widening the Scientific Excellence for Studies on Women’s and Fetal Health and Wellbeing“, No 692299 "Scientific Excellence in Animal Reproductive Medicine and Embryo Technology" and European Regional Development Fund through University of Tartu ASTRA project PER ASPERA


For further information, please contact Hemminki Otstavel (; +37256354033) 

Maamess on 20th to 22nd of April 2017


On April 20-22, the 25th international agricultural fair Maamess took place in Tartu, Estonia. The fair brought together more than 45 000 visitors, 460 companies from 10 countries, and covered over 60 000 m2 of exhibition space. This year, Maamess focused on four main topics: agriculture, forestry, gardening and food.


Representatives from the EMU also participated in the fair and introduced the SEARMET project. Information about the ovum pick up and in vitro production of bovine embryos was presented to the visitors and other highlights concerning the topics relevant for the project were shared. 


AgroForum Mare Balticum 2017 - Agriculture for Rural Development


AgroForum Mare Balticum 2017, taking place on April 18-20, was already 5th such event in succession. This year’s focus was “Agriculture for Rural Development”. Four general themes were covered during the event: agriculture as one of the basis for rural development; agricultural subsidies and support measures; animal husbandry in rural development and rural environment protection; risk management in rural sector. One of the SEARMET project partners, Estonian University of Life Sciences, is one of the main organizers of the forum.

The AgroForum was targeted at decision makers on political, administrative, research and producers’ associations level, i.e. ministers of agriculture and other higher state public servants, representatives of agricultural universities, food processors and producers’ associations.

The AgroForum involved the countries bordering the Baltic Sea, such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia, and also the Eastern partnership countries, such as Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Georgia.


International seminar „Open Research Data - the FAIRest Data is the Future of Science“


In cooperation of the University of Tartu Library and DataCite Estonia Consortium an international seminar "Open Research Data - the FAIRest Data is the Future of Science" was held. The seminar took place on 20th of April in Tallinn University of Technology. The target group of the seminar was researchers, doctoral students, data managers and research administrative staff who are supposed to preserve and open up their research data. This seminar examined state-of-the-art institutional repositories and common problems, provided networking opportunities and sharing of best practices.

Third presentation of a new series of scientific seminars on 20th of April


The third presentation of a new series of scientific seminars took place on 20th of April 2017. James Ord, a PhD student from Prof. Alireza Fazeli's laboratory from the University of Sheffield gave his presentation on the topic "Sins of the Father: Transgenerational Effects of Environmental Stress in Fish". More information about his background and research may be found:

The presentation slides are available here: slides


Workshops in MASTERRIND on 20th to 24th of February 2017


Headquarters of MASTERRIND embryo station with Knut Roschlau


Farm for oocyte and embryo donors, Nückel


Schau der Besten, 2017, Verden


In February Elina Mark, Jevgeni Kurõkin, Andres Reilent and Ants Kavak from the EMU went to Germany. The objective of the trip was to visit the MASTERRIND ET-station and embryo laboratories in Verden, and the OPU station in Nückel.


Elina, Jevgeni, Andres and Ants participated in several workshops – in embryo lab: in vitro production of bovine embryos, freezing of embryos, preparations for embryo transfers;  in OPU-station: Ovum Pick-Up techniques, donor preparation;  in ET-station: flushing of embryos from donors, recipient preparation for embryo tranfer. They also  visited one of the biggest cattle shows in Europe: Schau der Besten 2017, and went to AI and bull station in Verden.


During the visit and workshops EMU veterinarians gained new ideas about Ovum Pick-Up techniques: donor preparation – hormonal stimulation vs no stimulation; aparature used for oocyte aspiration and handling; embryo flushing techniques; recipient preparation – correct monitoring of the time of heat, optimal time for embryo transfer. In the embryolab they had an opportunity to learn how to take embryo biopsy with micromanipulator and how to perform embryo sexing and genetic analysis; additionally an overview of in vitro maturation, fertilization and culture techniques of bovine embryos, and of embryo slow-freezing method were given.


For the future use in our laboratory in EMU the visitors got MASTERRINDs media composition formulas for IVM, IVF and IVC.

Second presentation of a new series of scientific seminars on 3rd of February 2017


The second presentation of a new series of scientific seminars took place on 3rd of February 2017 in the seminar room on the second floor of the UT's Translational Medicine Centre (Ravila 14b, Tartu). 


The presentation was given by Olga Tšuiko, who is a PhD student from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (UT). The title of her presentation was: "Unraveling chromosomal instability in early cleavage stage embryos using bovine as a model".


For additional information please contact: Hemminki Otstavel (, +37256354033


The presentation slides are available here: slides


SEARMET PhD students' seminar with prof. Alireza Fazeli and prof. William Holt


Last seminar in the series of PhD students' seminars took place on 2nd of February 2017. This time we had professor William Holt from the University of Sheffield visiting us. His main research has focused on the methods for the assessment and preservation of gametes, especially spermatozoa, in a variety of species. More information about prof. William Holt can be found here:


The agenda of the seminar was following:






Alireza Fazeli




Marilin Ivask


"High-fat diet influence on Wfs1 heterozygous mice"


Freddy Lättekivi


"Offspring of long-snouted seahorses on different diets: de novo transcriptome assembly and analysis of differentially expressed genes"


Ulrika Tuppits


"Local inflammatory response in mares’s uterus before and after insemination with frozen-thawed semen"


Aili Tagoma


„The effect of extracellular vesicles in fetal bovine serum on Jar sphere outgrowth“


Small break




Rutt Taba


"RNA sequencing of bovine blastocysts"


Lidiia Zhytnik


"Genetic predisposition to Osteogenesis Imperfecta"


Hanneloore Kiiver


„The effects of milk progesterone and activity level on pregnancy rate in Holstein dairy cows using the Ovsynch protocol”


Aili Tagoma


Discussion about Marie-Sklodowska Curie postdoc application


If you have any questions about these seminars or you would like to have some further information, please contact Hemminki Otstavel (



First presentation of a new series of scientific seminars on 16th of January 2017



We are excited to announce that the first presentation of a new series of scientific seminars was very successful. It took place on 16th of January in the seminar room on the second floor of the UT's Translational Medicine Centre (Ravila 14b, Tartu). 


The presentation was given by Shaghayegh Basatvat, who is a PhD student from the Alireza Fazeli's research group at the University of Sheffield. The title of her presentation was: "Investigating the Tribbles-2 modulation of innate immune system during embryo implantation using 2D and 3D cell culture models".

"Successful embryo implantation is a compulsory yet cryptic episode in reproduction. The maternal innate immune system, specifically the Toll-Like Receptors (TLRs) as the main family of pathogen recognition receptors, is involved in maintaining the immunity in the female reproductive tract. Activation of TLRs with their specific ligands, during the implantation process has a negative effect on the implantation outcome. Tribbles proteins, a family of psuedokinase proteins, modulate various signaling pathways within the cell. Tribbles-2 (Trib2) protein is modulating TLR5 signal transduction pathway. We have shown that Trib2 knockout female mice were infertile. Hence, we hypothesized that Trib2 protein is involved in regulation of female fertility. Initial investigations demonstrated that embryo implantation failure might be the main cause of infertility in the female Trib2 knockout mice. Thus, the aim of this study is to understand the role of Trib2 in embryo implantation and regulation of TLR5 signaling pathway and as a result how this protein is involved in the female fertility."

The presentations slides are available here: slides

If you have any questions or suggestions about our next Journal Club presentations, please contact: Hemminki Otstavel (, +37256354033


Last SEARMET Steering Committee meeting in Pärnu in November 2016


Last SEARMET Steering Committee meeting  took place in Pärnu, Estonia on 21-23rd of  November. Different kind of project activities and upcoming trainings were discussed. Also, further  funding opportunities and upcoming research proposals were discussed between partners and possible collaborators from Poland, Germany, UK  and Italy.


SEARMET meeting in Tartu 17-19th of October 2016


Our last SEARMET project meeting took place in Tartu from 17- 19th of October. On 17th of October, project team had a Steering Committee meeting where different kind of project specific details and activities were discussed. In the afternoon, prof. Poul Hyttel from the University of Copenhagen conducted a workshop on topic "How do animal and human biomedicine benefit from each other?". Several PhD students, researchers and other staff members from EMU, UT and CCHT participated.


On 18th of October experts from UCPH provided supervision for EMU staff in the laboratory, where they had discussions about in vitro embryo production; preparations for oocyte aspiration, IVM and preparations for OPU. In the afternoon EMU's OPU-technicians Jevgeni Kurykin and Andres Reilent carried out the procedure in Rahinge Farm. After practical part OPU IVM and discussions about IVF and IVC were conducted. At the same time, prof. Poul Hyttel from UCPH and prof. Alireza Fazeli from USFD had a tour of the facilities and laboratories of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in University of Tartu.

During the last day of the meeting, conclusions about the work at the laboratory and protocols on bovine IVF embryo production were discussed between the project partners.


Seminar for PhD students in Tartu on 12th of October


The main purpose of this seminar is to give an opportunity for PhD students from EMU and UT to present their research and receive recommendations and feedback for their future work. Each of the students will give a 15-minute presentation on specific topic as for example the last experiment that was done in the laboratory or an experiment that was just finished. Also the presentations on the future experimental project and design are suggested. After each presentation, there will be a discussion. In the result of these seminars the quality of the research will increase.



SEARMET meeting in Sheffield in July 2016


SEARMET first project meeting in UK, Sheffield took place on 17 - 23rd of July 2016. The meeting was very productive and useful. Staff people from USFD gave several interesting lectures on topics such as IP and Commercialisation at the University of Sheffield, EU grants and how to write research funding proposals. More specific reasearch presentations included topics such as "Using different implantation models in vivo and In vitro to decipher cross-talk between embryo and Mother", "Biodiversity and epigenetics; what can we learn from exotic species?", "Imaging and analysis in 5D, X,Y,Z,T,Lambda", "Characterising extracellular vesicles produced by Reproductive cells" and "Different implantation models". In the evenings our hosts from USFD had organized different entertaining events, for example hiking around the lake.



Professor Alireza Fazeli visited EMU researchers in May 2016


Professor Alireza Fazeli from the University of Sheffield visited Tartu from 29 - 31 of May 2016. He listened to presentations from the researchers of SEARMET Estonian partners, Estonian University of Life Sciences and University of Tartu. Eight students from EMU and UT introduced their work to Professor Fazeli. The whole aim of the visit was to help researchers with their research work and give them more support and useful advice on how to conduct their work. The expert from UK was also entertained outside of the academic environment. Professor Fazeli and project coordinator Hector Pagan attended Tartumaa Folk Dance Festival „HINGEPUU“ in Raadi park where Professor Ülle Jaakma from EMU was performing.

 Professors Alireza Fazeli and Ülle Jaakma during Tartumaa Folk Dance Festival „HINGEPUU“ in Raadi park. Image: Alireza Fazeli


SEARMET meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark in 4 - 7th of April 2016


During our SEARMET Denmark meeting people from EMU, UT and USFD were given a tour around the facilities at the Frederiksberg Campus at UCPH. Presentations, IVF, OPU.

The slides of the presentations are available here: slides



SEARMET kick-off meeting in Estonia in February 2016


SEARMET project official kick-off meeting took place in Tartu, Estonia in February 2016. During three days, our partners from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Sheffield were introduced to the people working for SEARMET project from the University of Tartu and Estonian University of Life Sciences. Experts from UCPH and USFD conducted several workshops for EMU's staff on topics such as how to develop innovative and effective methods for translating periconception research into course content and how to do conference presentations. Partners from Denmark and UK also had the tours of the facilities of EMU, UT and the National Centre for Translational and Clinical Research. For cultural exchange purposes, our guests were taken to South-Estonia for an Estonian dinner.