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Collaboration with PIVET

Dr Kevin Keane graduated from the Institute of Technology Tallaght, in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Bioanalytical Science in 2003, and a PhD in Cell Biology (2011). He has held a variety of positions in the pharmaceutical industry, working for Wyeth BioPharma (2003-2007) and Pfizer Perth (2012). In August 2012, he began postdoctoral training with Professor Philip Newsholme at Curtin University.

Dr Keane, and his close colleague, Dr Vinicius Cruzat, established the Newsholme lab of Diabetes and Metabolism in the newly opened CHIRI Research Precinct in 2012/2013. The Diabetes and Metabolism laboratory at Curtin has published more than 35 articles in high quality journals to date, which have significantly contributed to the growth of the lab, the School of Biomedical Science and CHIRI.

In 2015, following a competitive recruitment process, Dr Keane became the first recipient of a joint Research Fellowship involving the School of Biomedical Science and PIVET Medical Centre, a private IVF facility located in Leederville.  He is now responsible for PIVET’s research outputs and co-ordinates all research activity under the guidance of Professor John Yovich, PIVET’s Medical Director and Adjunct Clinical Professor, School of Biomedical Science.

Kevin’s research interests include metabolism, endocrinology and cellular signalling. His objective is to provide a better understanding of the biological, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect fertility and IVF outcomes, so as to develop new treatments and technologies to help patients.

Professor Yovich’s research interest is in all aspects of Infertility Management. He is a world-renowned expert in human reproduction and function, and a pioneer in Australian assisted reproductive technologies. In 1980, he returned to Western Australia from the Royal Free Hospital, London, and he established the PIVET Medical Centre in 1981.

PIVET successfully produced the first IVF infant in the state in 1982 and, from its inception, has been very active in the accurate storage of its data and publication of all its work. PIVET has always been in the upper echelon for pregnancy rates domestically and internationally, and in recent times has been publishing outstanding results from blastocyst transfers in FET (frozen embryo transfer) cycles. The organisation was the first centre to introduce the, now widely adopted, vitrification method of cryopreservation, and has an outstanding program for both egg and embryo freezing.

PIVET’s affiliation with the School of Biomedical Science is an important synergistic partnership for both entities, and is strongly connected to Curtin’s strategic plan (2013-17) to become an internationally recognised leader in research and education, and to align more closely with industry. The research projects co-ordinated by Professor Yovich and Dr Keane align directly with the Faculty of Health Sciences and the School of Biomedical Sciences strategic research theme of ‘Metabolic Health, Disease & Pathogenesis’. Since the establishment of the Fellowship in January 2015, the collaboration has published 6 original research articles and received $25,000 from Merck Serono (2016) to investigate the role of vitamin D in fertility.

The published articles received significant input from Biomedical Sciences Master by coursework students Sarah Firns and Susbin Raj Wagle. Currently, PhD candidate, Nikita Walz, is investigating the role of Vitamin D in female fertility, while honours student, Katarina Mitrovic, is developing a new method to quantitate sperm DNA damage, both under the supervision of Dr Keane, Professor Newsholme and Professor Yovich. The impact of these Biomedical Science students, who graduated from the school’s well-respected human biology course, has enhanced the school’s research output in the area of human biology. Current students from this course, are invited to tour the PIVET facility once a year, and it is envisaged that more graduates will be recruited into research projects at the centre as the collaboration continues to flourish.