Tête-à-tête with Kristian Almstrup

This time we bring an interview to get to know another of our invited speakers at the 14th NYRA meeting, which will take place in Norwich from 19-21st of September 2022.

Kristian Almstrup is a Senior Scientist at Copenhagen University Hospital – Rigshospitalet, where he serves as a research leader at the Department of Growth and Reproduction. He is also an Associate professor at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at University of Copenhagen. By education, Kristian holds a Master of Science in biochemistry and a PhD in molecular andrology, both from University of Copenhagen. His group focuses on studies connecting genetic and epigenetic variation to reproductive endpoints, testicular gene expression, and functional studies of sperm cells. He is also a leading partner in international genetic consortia aiming at describing the genetics of azoospermia (GEMINI, IMiGC) and testicular cancer (TECAC).

When and why did you decide to work in the field of reproductive biology?

During my PhD-work (around 20 years ago) I became interested in reproductive biology and especially why human reproduction seems to be particularly poor. After my PhD, I spend 2 years in the industry but decided to follow my interests and joined academia again.

Can you name the greatest success(es) in your career?

The first publications in my career, the large grants I obtained, successful supervision of students, and the latest high-impact publications (e.g. Nagirnaja et al., NEJM 2021).

Can you name a moment of failure (and which lesson did you learn with it)?

Must be rejection of papers and grants. Lesson learned – always get other people to look at it critically and learn from their thoughts.

Which advice would you give to young researchers?

Follow your interests and stay curious.

At the 14th NYRA meeting in Norwich, you will tell us about piRNAs, can you summarize why this is important for male fertility?

piRNAs are a special type of small RNAs that are nearly unique to germ cells. Not surprisingly, piRNAs are essential for spermatogenesis and an increasing number of genes related to the function of piRNA are found deficient in men with poor spermatogenesis. However, we understand very little about the actual function of piRNAs in human spermatogenesis.

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