A program that focuses on the scientific study of reproductive processes and biogenesis in animals and human beings. Includes instruction in reproductive ecology and behavior, reproductive system physiology, endocrinology, developmental biology, neuroendocrinology, evolution and types of reproductive systems, reproductive genetics, physiopathology of reproductive processes, and applications of molecular biology and biophysics to the study of reproductive physiology.
Careers in reproductive biology focus on the processes and functions that contribute to reproduction.
Reproduction is how living organisms make more of themselves. There are a few ways to do this; some copy themselves exactly, while others combine their own genetic material with another's, resulting in the development of one or more unique organisms. This process is dependent on many anatomical components, each with a particular function, and it's common for reproductive biologists to focus on the interactions between specific parts. One major element of reproduction is the endocrine system, which regulates hormones and can cause various issues if it is thrown off balance. The interplay between these elements and systems is complex and delicate, and reproductive biologists must know their way around every component.
Aspects of the field include diseases that affect reproductive organs, such as ovarian or prostate cancer, hormone imbalances and the conditions associated with them, fertility treatments, and maturation. Some reproductive biologists spend their days in clinics, where they diagnose problems and help patients to manage existing conditions. Others help clients with family planning, contraception, or monitoring pregnancies. In lab settings, reproductive biologists may work with bacteria or other small organisms that reproduce asexually. Reproductive biologists also work in animal science, applying their knowledge in order to treat a range of health concerns in different species.
Work in reproductive biology may include...
- Monitoring hormone cycles and cell activity
- Developing family, fertility, or breeding plans
- Administering tests or treatments
- Identifying reproductive issues or conditions
- Extracting harmful objects or sample cells
Jobs in reproductive biology are all over the map, with opportunities that range from clinical care to experimental research. Public health in particular employs a large number of workers with a background in reproductive biology to provide clinical care, collect population data, or engage in outreach. Those who focus on animal reproduction can often find work with farms, zoos, and nature conservancies, where they can design and implement breeding programs. Some reproductive biologists work in clinical settings as physicians, nurses, technicians, or surgeons, while others conduct academic or medical research in labs. Many teach at various educational levels ranging from middle school to postgraduate education. It's also common to find reproductive biologists in legal settings, where they may act as scientific consultants and expert witnesses, contribute to policy, or ensure that regulatory standards are upheld.
The study of reproductive biology can take many shapes. Some start by studying biology at the undergraduate level, in two-year Associate's or four-year Bachelor's degree programs. Completing coursework in anatomy, physiology, cell biology, and genetics can prepare these students to enter the workforce when they graduate, often as certified technicians or lab assistants. Those with an interest in conducting research tend to follow up their undergraduate studies with a Master's or PhD program, which can provide further opportunities to explore the field in depth. Another common path is medical school; students who want to work in clinical settings can gain hands-on experience and specialize in reproductive areas such as gynecology during their residencies. Animal scientists often pursue veterinary school, and some reproductive biologists seek out additional training to become registered nurses or birth workers.
Reproductive processes are frequently mystified or obscured; if you want to clear things up, consider a career in reproductive biology.
For more information, please follow the links below:
- The Society for the Study of Reproduction is an association of scientists and physicians dedicated to advancing the science of reproduction, fertility, and development for the benefit of humans and animals.
- The American Society for Reproductive Medicine is dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine through research, education and learning, as well as professional advocacy and improving patient care.