Skip to Main Content


  • Principal Investigator

    Professor Adjunct; Director, Laboratory of Molecular Reproduction and Fertility Preservation

    PhD, University of Gent, 2015; MD, Hacettepe University School of Medicine, 1986

    Kutluk Oktay MD, Ph.D. is a clinician-scientist, the world’s leading expert in fertility preservation, and a renowned ovarian biologist. He balances his time between his research laboratory which studies mechanisms of ovarian aging and chemotherapy-induced damage to ovarian reserve as well as those regulating maintenance of ovarian reserve in the human ovary, and his clinical practice and trials on fertility preservation and infertility. He developed and performed the world’s first ovarian transplant procedure with cryopreserved tissue and pioneered innovative ovarian stimulation protocols for cancer patients. In addition, he described the first oocyte freezing protocols in young pubertal girls with Turner syndrome and other medical conditions. Dr. Oktay developed a new ovarian transplantation technique utilizing a human extracellular matrix scaffold and robotic surgery, which further improved the outcomes of ovarian transplantation. He is the founder and first chair of the highly successful Fertility Preservation Special Interest Group at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, which awarded him the Distinguished Service Award in 2022. He has been the co-chair of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Guidelines of Committee since 2005, which shaped the practice of fertility preservation for nearly two decades.

    As a basic scientist, Dr. Oktay has been conducting key basic research on ovarian follicle development and aging. He discovered the role of BRCA function and DNA repair in ovarian and oocyte aging. As a result, Dr. Oktay was the first to discover that women who carry the BRCA mutations have accelerated ovarian aging.

    As an ovarian biologist and a translational researcher, he has been continuously funded by the NIH and other sources over the past 18 years and received numerous national and international awards from professional societies and patient organizations for his contributions. He has been repetitively named among the country's top doctors in his field by Castle and Connolly and other organizations. He has published over 200 manuscripts, including those in leading medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Science Translational Medicine, JAMA, JAMA Oncology, and Journal of Clinical Oncology. He published over 40 book chapters and is the editor of the first textbook on ovarian cryopreservation and transplantation published in 2022.

    He is a sought-after educator and lectures around the world on clinical, translational, and basic science topics in ovarian biology, aging, fertility preservation, assisted reproduction, genome editing, and others.

  • Postdoctoral Associate

    Na-Young Rho obtained PhD in Reproductive Biology from the University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College, Canada. Na-Young has been working in the reproduction field for the past 10 years, gaining knowledge and skills in molecular biology and in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) techniques. Na-Young is highly experienced in all aspects of molecular biology, including single-oocyte qRT-PCR and RNA-sequencing. Further, she has conducted various experiments using micro-manipulation to perform intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), polar body and blastomere biopsy, microinjection, and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). She has experienced hands in handling oocytes and sperm leading to high success rates/development in in vitro fertilization. Na-Young is also experienced in ovarian tissue cryopreservation bith with slow freezing and vitrification. Na-Young’s current project is to decipher the mechanism underlying the accelerated loss of ovarian reserve with age.

  • Postdoctoral Associate

    PhD, Akdeniz University, 2021; MSc, Akdeniz University, 2015

    Dr. Soner Celik graduated from Karadeniz Technical University, Turkey with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2008. Following his military service, he worked in the private sector for 3 years where he gained valuable experience and developed strong interpersonal skills. He obtained a MSc in Reproductive Biology in 2015 and a PhD in Histology and Embryology in 2021 at Akdeniz University School of Medicine. During his MSc and PhD studies, he worked on investigation of inhibitor molecules that control primordial follicle reserve after ovarian cryopreservation and transplantation. Currently, he is studying the potential delayed mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced ovarian follicle reserve loss, and he is focusing on mechanisms and treatments that prevent DNA damage and/or chemo-induced pro-apoptotic state in primordial follicles.

  • Laboratory Associate

    MD, Saint Marianna University School of Medicine, 2017

    Reiko is an OBGYN resident and an M.D. in Ph.D. trainee at Saint Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Japan. She is currently completing her oversea laboratory research training at Oktay Lab. Her current project is to determine the role of ATM-Pathway function in the maintenance of oocyte quality. Her research recently earned her the Society of Reproductive Investigation President’s Award and the International Training Grant in 2023.

  • Postgraduate Associate

    BSc, St. Cloud State University, 2022

    She is a highly motivated researcher who holds a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with aspirations of pursuing a career in the medical field. She is currently workings as a postgraduate research associate in Dr. Oktay’s lab, where she is actively engaged in a project aimed at assessing the quality and quantity of human ovarian follicles both in-vivo and in-vitro. In addition to her research duties, she is also involved in patient recruitment and coordination for a clinical study.

    Prior to her current position, she gained valuable experience working as an immunology research assistant during her undergraduate studies. In this role, she conducted research on the effect of compounds found in soft drinks on type 1 diabetes using rodents as animal models. Furthermore, she has also conducted extensive research in biochemistry, focusing on the enzymatic activity of pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase by introducing a single amino acid mutation near the enzyme's active site. This research was conducted over the course of a year and yielded valuable insights into the enzyme's function and she presented these findings in the 2022 ASBMB annual meeting.