Reproductive Sciences Laboratory: History

Dr. R.O. Berry  Dr. D.C. Kraemer and Horse Dr. D.C. Kraemer and Baboon

Dr. R.O Berry (left), Dr. Kraemer with the worlds first embryo transfer horse (center) and baboon (right).

Since its establishment almost 40 years ago, the Reproductive Sciences Laboratory (RSL) at Texas A&M University has represented a world-class research program whose members have pioneered studies in the development of biotechnologies that benefit animal agriculture, as well as both animal and human health. This tradition of excellence began with Dr. R.O. Berry in the 1930s, and the development of techniques that saw the first embryo transfer in a large animal species. This spirit of innovation was passed to Dr. D.C. Kraemer who subsequently developed the basis for assisted reproductive technologies in primates, as well as many companion and domestic animals. Dr. Kraemer produced the very first commercial embryo transfer in cattle (1971) and was instrumental in launching the field of commercial embryo transfer. Most recently Dr. M.E. Westhusin has pioneered some of the worlds first studies into somatic cell nuclear transfer or animal cloning, and the application of this biotechnology in the livestock industry. Today, the RSL is home to a diverse group of researchers who continue to build upon this legacy of excellence, and develop advances in embryology, animal genetic engineering and developmental toxicology. Housed within the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, faculty and staff at the RSL continue to be recognized as one of the world’s most premier research teams in reproductive biology.

Historical Highlights

Pioneers in Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Dr. R.O. Berry contributed significantly to establishment of the discipline of Reproductive Immunology through his pioneering studies involving embryo transfer to evaluate genetic factors affecting reproduction. Dr. Berry reported the first successful embryo transfer in sheep and goats in 1934. These studies set the stage for many of today’s assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs).

Advances in Non-Surgical Embryo Transfer

Following in Dr. Berry’s footsteps, Dr. Kraemer, a student of Dr. Berry’s, performed the world’s first embryo transfers in a variety of animal species, including non-human primates. Based upon Dr. Kraemer’s pioneering studies, more than 1 million cattle embryos are transferred each year and his techniques formed the basis for modern practices in human and conservation medicine.

Leaders in Reproductive Biotechnology

US News Magazine cover featuring cloningThe investigators within the Reproductive Sciences Laboratory were one of the first to apply the techniques of somatic cell nuclear transfer (animal cloning) to livestock species, As a result, they were the first to clone many mammalian species including specific species of cattle and goats, as well as the world’s first cat and white-tailed deer. Today, this dynamic team continues to innovate in the field of animal biotechnology.