First International Symposium on Post-meiotic Approaches to Male Contraception

Simon C.L. Au and Patrick Y.D. Wong

Hosted by the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong. June 8-10, 2005

Satellite Meeting of the 8th International Congress of Andrology,
Seoul, Korea, June 12-16, 2005

Contraception has in the past been solely a responsibility for women. However, in recent years, the need for couples to assume joint responsibility in family planning is becoming increasingly recognized and accepted worldwide. A substantial number of men, in virtually all cultures, have expressed a desire to share the responsibility of contraception with their partners. To make this a reality, effective, safe, acceptable, reversible and affordable methods of male fertility regulation are needed. Whilst these criteria have largely been met by the hormonal methods offered to women, no equivalence has yet been made available for men at the present time.

Spermatozoa formed in the testis undergo maturation in the male reproductive tract before they can fertilize the egg. Recent advances in genomics and proteomics have offered new and powerful tools for elucidating the molecular mechanisms of the underlying processes. New approaches of suppressing male fertility through interfering with sperm maturation and sperm-egg interaction (‘post-meiotic’ or ‘post-testicular’ approaches) are now becoming a practical reality. They represent better alternatives than inhibiting sperm production (hormonal methods).

The Department of Physiology had the honor of being invited to host the first international symposium on ‘Post-meiotic approaches to male contraception’ jointly with the Hong Kong Society of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Reproduction, to address the current state of knowledge in this field. The symposium took place at the Postgraduate Education Centre of the Prince of Wales Hospital on June 8-10, 2005 and received sponsorships of over HK$ 1 million from the Ernst Schering Research Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, CONRAD, the International Society of Andrology, and The Physiological Society (UK). The symposium was attended by over 80 participants from all around the world including administrators of international reproductive health agencies such as the World Health Organization and CONRAD, directors of human reproduction research institutes in China and Australia, as well as representatives from the pharmaceutical sector. The opening ceremony was presided by the Dean of Medicine, Professor T.F. Fok who gave a welcome address to the participants. It was then followed by the Opening Lecture dedicated to the memory of the late Professor Geoffrey Waites, a distinguished andrologist who laid many ground works for the research in this field. The symposium was divided into six sessions with 30 invited lectures given by topnotch scientists/clinicians from North America (15), Europe (9), Australia (1), and China (including Hong Kong) (5). Towards the last day before the Symposium ended, there was a round-table discussion on the contribution of family planning towards public health organized by Schering AG, Germany. It was led by a panel of five experts from four continents. In this session, the collaborative efforts between the government and the private sectors in developing new contraceptives for men were discussed.