Dr A.M.M. van Pelt (1958) has been appointed professor of Translational Reproductive Biology at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA).
Ans van Pelt’s research focuses on male fertility. She conducts preclinical research in innovative therapies and technologies with the aim to treat infertility in men. Her research focuses mainly on men with no sperm or a reduced sperm count in which the production of sperm cells in the testes appears to have ceased, but still contain the precursors stem cells. Using these human testicular stem cell, van Pelt aims to develop these cells into mature sperm or propagate them in vitro for transplantation therapy purposes. For the latter, she is involved in fertility preservation research for young boys with childhood cancer, in which a testicular biopsy is taken for cryopreservation and potential use in future clinical application to treat infertility in adulthood.
With respect to education, Van Pelt teaches laboratory skills and potential future clinical therapies to students of the Medicine and Medical Biology programmes, and also addresses their academic development, with a focus on translational research within reproductive medicine. In addition, she is also involved in teaching trainee gynaecologists.
In her capacity as professor, Van Pelt will focus on further developing future therapies to restore male fertility. To this end she will first acquire additional knowledge about the causes of male infertility, and more specifically why the process of sperm cell formation stops prematurely in many men who do not produce sperm. With this knowledge she aims to take a targeted approach to finding a future treatment. Van Pelt also focuses on fertility preservation for men who have to undergo treatment that temporarily or permanently failure of sperm production, such as due to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. In the case of pre-pubertal boys in particular, there is currently no therapy to safeguard fertility. This is in contrast to adult males, who can freeze their sperm cells prior to gonadotoxic therapeutic treatment for another disease. Her research in this regard focuses primarily on the development of cell therapy using stem cells from a testicular biopsy. She also carries out research to develop cells from the testicular biopsy into sperm cells or testicular somatic cells in culture trays.
Van Pelt is a stem cell biologist and head of the AMC’s Reproductive Biology laboratory, which forms part of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine. For several years now, she has been working together with Prof. David Page from the Whitehead Institute, MIT, in Cambridge, Massachusets (US). Van Pelt previously worked as a researcher at UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University and shortly at the Hubrecht Laboratory, and as guest researcher in the laboratory of Prof. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte at the Center for Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona.
Van Pelt is secretary of the Dutch Society for Stem Cell Research (DSSCR) and coordinator of the Growsperm Consortium. She has obtained numerous grants, including several EU grants, a Marie Curie grant and various grants from ZonMW.