Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Dr. Pierre Comizzoli Awarded the 2012 Secretary's Research Prize

SCBI's Dr. Pierre Comizzoli has been awarded the 2012 Secretary's Research Prize for his research on developing a novel way of storing the female genome—a method that could have implications for human health. The work was published in the journal Human Reproduction, which is the highest-ranked journal in the field of reproductive sciences.

Comizzoli and his co-authors aimed to find an alternative to freezing a female's egg, which is much more complicated than freezing an embryo or sperm cell because of its large size and complex structure. Using a domestic cat as a model, the researchers found that they can actually collect, store and transfer the nucleus of the cell (called the germinal vesicle) to reconstruct a viable egg that can be fertilized.

What are the benefits of this research? It means that scientists can more easily preserve the genetic integrity of an endangered species, which in turn will help ensure the survival of that species through genetic diversity. It may also have implications for humans, specifically for women who would like to delay reproduction for various reasons.

Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough awards up to 10 annual prizes recognizing excellence in recent research by the Smithsonian Institution's employees. Comizzoli was awarded the 2012 Secretary's Research Prize in the "Articles or Chapters" category.