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Societal challenges

The reproductive act leading to the birth of offspring and numerous aspects linked to the reproductive process itself have always fueled passions at the scientific and societal levels. Very few of our life experiences rouse as much emotions. Beyond the reproductive needs essential to the survival of all species, at the individual level, the often visceral need to transmit ones genes to an offspring is common to the entire animal kingdom. From a socio-economic standpoint, our societies base their survival and their growth in large part on birth rates. Among the applications that influence societies, a great need arises for the development of new contraceptive methods, available and reversible, for both males and females.    

The knowledge generated by CRDSI research enable solutions to be envisioned. In addition, the treatment of infertility raises numerous ethical questions. For example, the preservation of fertility for patients receiving chemotherapy treatments raises different concerns whether the patient is male or female since conservation of semen is more easily available and better developed than the collection and preservation of oocytes.  We also have to consider the age of the patient since before puberty, the collection of gametes involves various challenges. Another example of ethical issue associated to reproduction is the selection of embryos on a genetic basis. It is possible to collect a few cells from the embryo in order to carry out genetic screening, which is generally acceptable when parents are carriers of a serious hereditary disease. However, the same procedure raises a problem if it is applied to select an embryo based on aesthetic criteria (ex. Eye color) or to choose the sex of the child.  A third topical example is the management of supernumerary embryos produced in fertility clinics. It is thus important to consider the development and the application of these technologies in a responsible manner. Therefore, CRDSI has for the past ten years or so added an ethical axis in its programming in order to address these important aspects. It is through dialogue between researchers working on the improvement and development of these reproductive technologies and those able to quantify risks in relation to the societal benefits that a responsible management of these practices is possible. Lyne Létourneau is interested in the decision making process by decision makers, regulators and legislators for the purpose of providing acceptable framing of practices based on scientific data.    

Research projects- Axis 4