News Updates

6/22/20 - Renee Chosed, Kathryn Wozniak Recognized for Outstanding Abstracts

Renee J. Chosed, Ph.D., and Kathryn Wozniak, M.Sc., have been recognized by the College of Reproductive Biology’s (CRB’s) Abstract Review Committee for outstanding abstract submissions. The abstracts were originally submitted for presentation at the 2020 AAB Conference and CRB Symposium.

Renee Chosed co-authored the abstract, “Isolation, Purification and Initial RNA Sequence Analysis of Seminal Fluid Exosomes between Pregnant and Non-Pregnant Intrauterine Insemination Pregnancies.” She is the Clinical Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, and Director of Medical Student Research in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine – Greenville, University of South Carolina.

Kathryn Wozniak, an embryologist at Ovation Fertility, Newport Beach, California, co-authored the abstract, “Clinical Benefits of Culturing Monopronucleated Zygotes Derived from Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection Cycles.”

Chosed and Wozniak each received a $250 cash award in recognition of their achievement.

Click here to view the winning abstracts.

Chosed’s and Wozniak’s abstracts, along with abstracts submitted by Brent M. Hanson, M.D., and Khalied Kaskar, M.S., were presented as part of the May 12, 2020, International IVF Initiative (I3) webinar, “Differentiation, Isolation, Fertilization and Monopronucleation – CRB Abstract Presentations While on Coronacation.”

Brent M. Hanson, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellow, RMA Basking Ridge, New Jersey, presented “The Relationship Between Age and Rates of Abnormal Fertilization Following Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI),” and Khalied Kaskar, M.S., Instructor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Baylor College of Medicine, and IVF Laboratory Manager, Family Fertility Center, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, Texas, presented “Growth Differentiation Factor 9 (GDF-9) Levels in Spent Culture Media and Pregnancy Outcome.”

A second webinar on April 29, 2020, organized by CRB and hosted by I3, features roundtable topics that would have been presented at the 2020 AAB Conference/CRB Symposium, including, “Sperm DNA Fragmentation and Its Impact on IVF Outcomes,” by Alicia Broussard, Ph.D., TS(ABB), Director, Embryology, TMRW Lifesciences, and “The Relevance of Uterine Microbiome in IVF Treatment” by Inmaculada Moreno, Ph.D., Department of Research and Development - Igenomix, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

Click here to view CRB sessions hosted by I3.


3/25/20 - Senate Passes Stimulus Package with Some Relief for Small to Mid-Sized Laboratories

On March 25, 2020, the Senate passed a third piece of legislation to respond to the toll COVID-19 has taken on the U.S. economy. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides $2 trillion to stimulate the economy and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanded small business loans, assistance to hospitals, funding for public health agencies, and direct payments to lower and middle-income Americans are just some of the provisions included in this sweeping bill. The House is expected to consider the bill by unanimous consent on Friday morning, March 27, 2020.

Below is a summary of provisions that could affect CRB members, both as laboratories and as small to medium-sized business owners.

Small Business Provisions

Small Business Loans and Forgiveness Grants

Businesses with up to 500 full or part-time employees are eligible to receive loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover payroll, employee salaries, and certain other costs incurred between February 15 and June 30, up to a maximum of $10 million. These loans are subject to forgiveness equal to the amount spent by the borrower during an 8-week period after the origination date of the loan, subject to a reduction based on the reduction in number of employees or reduction of wages paid, in excess of 25%. The SBA will also pay the principal, interest, and any associated fees on certain existing SBA loans for 6 months.

Other Business Provisions

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) for Small, Medium, and Large Businesses

The bill expands eligibility for access to Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs), which can supply up to $2 million in disaster assistance for small and medium to large businesses located in a disaster declared county. The bill also creates a grant program allowing eligible entities that apply for an EIDL loan due to COVID-19 to request an advance of up to $10,000, to be distributed within 3 days, that is not required to be repaid, even if the loan is subsequently denied. Advance EIDL payments can be used to maintain payroll, meet increased costs to obtain materials, pay rent or mortgage obligations, or repay other obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.

Employee Retention Credit

A refundable payroll tax credit is authorized for 50% of wages paid by employers during the crisis for employers whose operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19 related shutdown or whose gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The credit is based on qualified wages paid to the employee. For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to the COVID-19-related circumstances described above. For eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business or subject to a shut-down order. The credit is provided for the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, paid to an eligible employee.

Assistance for Mid to Large Sized Businesses<

The Treasury Department will provide financing to banks and other lenders that make direct loans to businesses with between 500-10,000 employees with an annualized interest rate of no more than 2% and principal and interest obligations not due for at least six months. To be eligible, the business must:

  • Certify that the funds will be used to retain at least 90% of its workforce at full compensation and benefits until September 30, 2020;
  • Certify that the recipient intends to restore at least 90% of the recipient’s workforce that was in place on February 1, 2020;
  • Restore compensation and benefits to workers no later than 4 months after the termination of the public health emergency; and
  • Meet other requirements relating to stock buy backs, dividends, and job outsourcing.

Unemployment and Rebate Provisions

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Individuals otherwise not eligible for unemployment benefits (e.g., self-employed, independent contractors, and others) are eligible for benefits through December 31, 2020, if unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. Eligible individuals will receive an additional $600/week payment for up to four months and up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment through December 31, 2020, for those unemployed after state unemployment benefits run out.

2020 Recovery Rebates

All U.S. non-dependent residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for joint filers) are eligible for $1,200 per individual and $500 per child, phasing out completely at adjusted gross income of $99,000 ($198,000 for joint filers).

View a copy of the complete Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act here.


2/14/20 - Important FDA Notification Regarding Coronavirus

On February 14, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the following notice for circulation to HCT/P establishments.

FDA continues to work closely with CDC and other federal and international agencies to monitor the evolving outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. While respiratory viruses, in general, are not known to be transmitted by implantation, transplantation, infusion, or transfer of human cells, tissues, or cellular or tissue-based products (HCT/Ps), the potential for transmission of COVID-19 by HCT/Ps is unknown at this time. There have been no reported cases of transmission of COVID-19 via these products.

Routine screening measures are already in place for evaluating clinical evidence of infection in HCT/P donors.

Considerations

FDA is aware that some HCT/P establishments in the U.S. are considering additional donor screening measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The HCT/P establishment’s responsible person must evaluate a prospective donor and determine eligibility (21 CFR 1271.50).Based on the limited information available at this time, establishments may wish to consider the following donor history in the 28 days prior to HCT/P recovery for persons who have:

  • traveled to areas with COVID-19 outbreaks, as defined by CDC
  • lived with individuals diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 infection; or
  • been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 infection.

CRB will continue to monitor the situation and will issue updates as information becomes available.

Additional Resources:



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