Sandra Carson

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Sandra Ann Carson
Education Medical School: Northwestern University Medical School
Residency: Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Fellowship: Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center
Occupation Doctor and researcher
Known for Inventing the first artificial human ovary

Sandra Ann Carson, M.D., is the principal innovator of the first artificial human ovary. This innovation was reported in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, and recognized by Time magazine as one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs in 2010.[1][2][3]

In this work, Carson, et al. introduced theca cells donated by reproductive-age patients into "3-D Petri dishes" designed to resemble the sponge-like cells of a human ovary. In the lab, the cell types interacted with one another and functioned for all intents and purposes like a real ovary, even successfully maturing a human egg from its earliest stages in the follicle to a fully developed form.[4]

To build the ovary, honeycombs of theca cells were formed, one of two key types in the ovary, donated by reproductive-age patients at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. Together with human egg cells, donated granulosa cells were inserted into the honeycomb shape the theca cells formed. In days, the theca cells enveloped the granulosa and eggs, mimicking a real ovary.

Clinically, the artificial ovary could play a significant role in the future, eventually yielding new infertility treatments for women by preserving the fertility of cancer patients, for example: immature eggs could be salvaged and frozen before chemotherapy or radiation, and then matured outside the patient in the artificial ovary.[5]

In parallel with this effort and a scientific first, Carson co-directed a research team by extracting information about gene expression from fertile human egg cells without hurting them. In this work the team was able to sequence the transcribed genetic material, or mRNA, in egg cells, in smaller structures pinched off from them called polar bodies. Polar bodies are nonfunctional and incapable of being fertilized. This new technique could ultimately give parents and doctors a preview of which eggs are likely to make the most viable embryos.[6]


Carson earned her medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. She is a Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology with sub-specialty certification in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.


Carson has more than three decades of experience as a scientist, clinician, and teacher, much of which has focused on the field of reproductive endocrinology. Carson has served as the chair of REI Board of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) and chair of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs. She currently serves as editor-in-chief of Sexuality, Reproduction and Menopause.[7]

Carson currently serves as Vice President for Education with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)[8] and is an Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, where she served as Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility from 2007-2014.

Public awareness[edit]

Dr. Carson serves as a news consultant for various television networks and contributor for print publications including: CBS, CNN,[9] ABC, NBC,[10] 20/20, Time magazine,[5][11] Parents magazine, and Mademoiselle.[12]


  1. ^ Park, Alice (2010-12-09). "Artificial Ovary - The Top 10 Everything of 2010". TIME. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  2. ^ Collins, Nick (2010-09-16). "Artificial ovary gives fertility hope to cancer sufferers". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  3. ^ Orenstein, David (2010-09-14). "Researchers build 'artificial ovary' to develop oocytes into mature human eggs" (Press release). Brown University News and Events. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  4. ^ Weintraub, Karen (2010-09-20). "Artificial Ovary Could Help Infertile Women". Technology Review. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  5. ^ a b Sifferlin, Alexandra (2010-09-16). "A New Artificial Ovary May Someday Boost Women's Success with In Vitro". Healthland; TIME. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  6. ^ Orenstein, David (2011-10-06). "'Genetic biopsy' of human eggs might help pick the best for IVF" (Press release). Brown University News and Events. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  7. ^ "Sexuality, Reproduction & Menopause". SRM. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  8. ^ "Sandra A. Carson, MD, Appointed Vice President for Education". ACOG press release. Retrieved 2014-06-27. 
  9. ^ "Test tube babies, 25 years later". CNN Health. 2003-07-28. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  10. ^ Brian Alexander (2007-07-19). "The sex doctors will see you now". NBC News. Retrieved 2014-06-27. 
  11. ^ Rochman, Bonnie (2010-10-11). "Fertility and Cancer: Surviving and Having Kids Too". TIME. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  12. ^ Davis, Marion (2010-06-07). "Five Questions With: Dr. Sandra Carson". Providence Business News. Retrieved 6 June 2012.