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NOVA PhD Course Reproductive Health in a Changing World - Effects of Environmental Contamination & Climate Change - Open for Applications

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    Osadchaya Olga/Shutterstock

The course will take place on 7-10 Oct. 2019, in Helsinki, Finland.
Application deadline: 11 Aug. 2019.

The course is of 2 ECTS and is organised by Stefan Björkman, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki.

NOVA course information web page

Apply here


Course Description
Global emission of environmental pollutants such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals have increased dramatically. Furthermore, climate warming, one of the main features of global change, accelerated the volatilisation process of environmental pollutant and increased their amount in the environment. Concurrent, there has been a decrease in the age of onset of puberty and fertility parameters as well as an increase in diseases, such as testicular cancer, and developmental abnormalities of the urogenital tract in humans. These trends have been observed also in companion animals such as dogs and cats. Causality between increased environmental pollutant and decreased reproductive health through endocrine disruption has been shown and has been supported by experiments with laboratory and farm animals and from field studies of wildlife.

Course Content
This course will give an overview about environmental contamination and air pollution, sources of contaminants and interaction with climate change. Present exposure levels, bioaccumulation in the food chain, potential health effects and assessment / measurement of these contaminants will be highlighted (Course Day 1). Furthermore, the concept of endocrine disruption and the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on reproductive health in women and men as well as effects on embryonic development during pregnancy will be discussed (Course day 2). The concept of One Health, the connection between human health to the health of animals and environment, will be introduced using the example of arctic One Health (Course day 3). The arctic environment can be regarded as a sink for environmental pollutants and therefore a perfect example. Furthermore, studies on the effects of EDCs on reproductive health will be reviewed in several animal species. These animal species have been either used as sentinel models (e.g. dog, cat) or experimental models (e.g. farm and laboratory animals) for the human. These reviews will be designed to update current understanding on the impact of EDCs on reproductive development and health and to discuss the relevance of data obtained from these studies to other species, including humans. The relative advantages and disadvantages of alternative animal models will be debated and the work placed into perspective in relation to the global problem of environmental contamination with EDCs (Course day 4 – 5).

Programme Outline
Day 1: Sessions on air quality and pollution, and environmental contaminants in food products

Day 2: Session on endocrine disruption and reproductive health problems in men and women, and human fetal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) during pregnancy

Day 3: Peer-group work and sessions on one Health in the artic and effects of EDCs on reproductive health of arctic animals (polar bears, seals, whales, seabirds, sled dogs, arctic foxes)

Day 4: Sessions on laboratory animal (rodents), in vitro and farm animal models (pigs, ruminants) used to study effects of EDCs on reproductive health

Day 5. Session on sentinel animal models (minks, dogs, cats) used to study effects of EDCs in reproductive health and peer-group work

All sessions consist of 2x 45 min lectures and 1 h of discussion / workshop

For more details, see course schedule.

Main Teachers

  • Richard Lea: Associate Professor of Reproductive Biology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • Ulf Magnussion: Professor of Animal Reproduction at the Department of Clinical Sciences at SLU, Uppsala
  • Christian Sonne: Research Professor at the Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University


Please find more information on the course and on how to apply here:

Published 9. May 2019 - 13:44 - Updated 29. July 2019 - 11:04