Merck Serono Awards Grant to Innovative Research Projects in Fertility

By Merck Serono S A, PRNE
Monday, July 4, 2011

GENEVA, July 5, 2011 -

  • Grant Designed to Stimulate Innovation in the Field of
  • Up to 1 Million Euros Allocated to Five Research

Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany,
today announces the recipients of its second Grant for Fertility
Innovation. The company has awarded up to 1 million Euros to five
innovative research projects with the same common goal: to improve
the chances for couples to conceive a baby. The Grant for Fertility
Innovation program was developed by Merck Serono to support the
advancement of medical science in the field of fertility.

“We are delighted to build on the success of the Grant for
Fertility Innovation which was launched last year. This initiative
represents an unprecedented commitment from Merck Serono to
encourage innovative thinking among the scientific community in the
fertility area”, said Dr Bharat Tewarie, Senior Vice President
Global Business Unit Fertility and Metabolic Endocrinology at Merck
Serono. “Today, we are proud to award grants to five breakthrough
projects which have demonstrated a potential to develop into novel
applications for clinicians to improve patients outcomes. We will
continue to stimulate innovation also externally in the fertility
field by offering a new grant next year.”

This year, 55 applications were received from 14 countries
around the world. Projects were selected by a scientific committee
composed of fertility experts. Each entry was blinded and evaluated
according to five criteria: support to increase the chances to
conceive a baby, innovation, scientific rationale, feasibility and
practical utility.

The awardees were announced at a ceremony held at the
27th annual meeting of the European Society of Human
Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), in the presence of Dr Alan
, President of the California Institute for Regenerative
Medicine, San Francisco and Dr Dagan Wells, BRC Scientific
Leadership Fellow in Reproductive Genetics at the Nuffield
Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Oxford.
Dr Dagan Wells was an award grantee of GFI in 2010.

This year’s grants were awarded to:

  • Prof Henrique Almeida,Faculdade de Medicina do Porto,
    FMUP (Porto, Portugal)
    and Prof João Luis
    Faculdade de Medicina do Porto, FMUP Centro
    de Estudo e Tratamento de Infertilidade, CETI, Porto,

    Project: Utilization of biomarkers in human cumulus oophorus cells
    to improve oocyte selection and ART outcomes.
  • Prof Nick Macklon, Professor of Obstetrics and
    Gynaecology, Division of   Developmental Origins of Adult
    Diseases (DOHaD), University of Southampton, Southampton, United
    Prof Bart CJM Fauser, Chair, Division
    Woman & Baby University Medical Center, Utrecht, The
    Project: Endometrial gene expression profile associated with
    recurrent implantation failure.
  • Dr Paola ScaruffiCenter of Physiopathology of Human
    Reproduction, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,  
     San Martino Hospital, Genova, Italy.

    Project: Cell DNA-Free test as a non invasive biomarker for
    assessing embryo viability.
  • Dr Roberto Matorras, Department of Obstetrics and
    Gynecology, Hospital from
    Baracaldo, Vizcaya, Spain
    Project: Endometrial fluid proteomics to assess uterine
  • Dr Séverine Le GacAssistant Professor, University of
    , The  Netherlands and
    Prof C.B. (Nils)
    Professor,Division of Reproductive Medicine,
    Department of Obstetrics/Gynaecology VU University Medical Center,
    Amsterdam, The Nertherlands.

    Project: C-µART - Culture in Microfluidics for Assisted
    Reproduction Techniques

Funding of each project is dependent on fulfillment of
predetermined, specific milestones. Further details on the five
research programs and information relating to the 2012 entry
submissions are available on the Grant for Fertility Innovation
website: href="">

Notes to editors:

Photos of the award ceremony can be downloaded from the Grant
for Fertility Innovation website: href="">
from Tuesday, July 5, 2011.

About Merck Serono and Fertility

Merck Serono is the world leader in fertility treatments, and
the only company to offer a full portfolio of fertility drugs for
every stage of the reproductive cycle and recombinant versions of
the three hormones needed to treat infertility: GONAL-f®
(follitropin alfa), to stimulate the ovaries and produce eggs in
women and spermatogenesis induction in men; Luveris®
(lutropin alfa), to stimulate follicular development in women who
are profoundly LH deficient; Ovitrelle®
(choriogonadotropin alfa), to help follicles mature and release
eggs; Pergoveris[®](follitropin alfa/lutropin
alfa) to stimulate follicular development in women with severe LH
and FSH deficiency; Cetrotide® (cetrorelix acetate) to
prevent a premature ovulation; and Crinone®
(progesterone gel), to help establish and maintain a pregnancy. Not
all products are available in all markets.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA,
Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers,
develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both
chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. In the
United States
and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately
incorporated affiliate of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer
(Erbitux®, cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif®, interferon
beta-1a), infertility (Gonal-f®, follitropin alfa), endocrine and
metabolic disorders (Saizen® and Serostim®, somatropin), (Kuvan®,
sapropterin dihydrochloride), (Egrifta™, tesamorelin), as well as
cardiometabolic diseases (Glucophage®, metformin), (Concor®,
bisoprolol), (Euthyrox®, levothyroxine). Not all products are
available in all markets.

With an annual R&D expenditure of over € 1bn, Merck Serono
is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused
therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology,
fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially
arising out of research and development in rheumatology.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total
revenues of € 9.3 billion in 2010, a history that began in 1668,
and a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 67 countries.
Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial
employees. Merck’s operating activities come under the umbrella of
Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70%
interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%.
In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and
has been an independent company ever since.

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