Shady Grove Fertility’s (SGF) state-of-the-art embryology, andrology, and endocrine laboratories have reached national and international distinction for offering highly sophisticated laboratory procedures that increase your chance of pregnancy and keep your frozen eggs, embryos, and sperm safe.   

All SGF labs are equipped with the very latest technology and are operated under the distinct leadership of Michael J. Tucker, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Director of SGF’s IVF and Embryology Laboratories, and Jim Graham, Senior Director of SGF Laboratory Services. 

1. SGF maintains stringent chain of custody protocols  

SGF has one of the most stringent, long-standing chain of custody protocols in the industry developed according to the highest industry standards and continuously refined alongside the latest research.  

SGF’s chain of custody protocol requires that two embryologists verify the identification of samples at each stage of the process to ensure, for example, that the correct sperm is paired with the correct eggs. Patients also take an active role in the protocol when they are asked to verify their identification verbally at several points. 

Because of our commitment to these procedures, SGF has never had an incorrect identification.  

2. SGF uses the most sophisticated technology to protect genetic material  

Our chain of custody at SGF is maintained using an electronic witnessing system, RI Witness. Developed by CooperSurgical, RI Witness is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) management system. This technology enables every sperm, egg, embryo, test tube, and petri dish to be electronically connected to the specific patient. 

Electronic witnessing creates a detailed, time-stamped log of the step-by-step movement of a patient’s genetic material and has an alert should there be a possibility of an incorrect mix. This alarm occurs prior to a potential mix-up. Final approval and validation are performed by the physician or embryologist performing the procedure. 

3. Improved air quality  

When creating and developing embryos, maintaining an environment with exceptionally clean air is essential. 

Clinical evidence proves that poor air quality negatively affects both fertilization and early-stage development of embryos. 

We maintain the best possible air quality in our IVF labs with a state-of-the-art Hepa filtration system. Our multi-faceted system filters out both solids (or particulate matter) and gasses (or volatile organic compounds (VOCs)). 

Even the humidity within the room is controlled, ensuring pristine air quality throughout the laboratory space. 

By maintaining a clean room in which we perform delicate procedures, we eliminate the possibility of poor air quality negatively impacting our work. Instead, we increase the likelihood of successful fertilization, embryo development, and, ultimately, pregnancy. 

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4. Isolated incubator spaces  

The longer we can leave your embryos undisturbed to develop, the more likely they are to become high-quality, viable embryos. 

The use of isolated chambers represents a major improvement in the IVF process. Previously, spaces were shared by multiple patients — meaning the environment for one patient’s developing embryos would impact another each time an embryologist needed to access the embryos of another patient using the same space. 

Now, each patient’s space is only accessed when an embryologist is doing an assessment or performing a procedure for that particular patient. Because we can keep embryos in a more controlled, consistent environment, we can ensure optimal success rates for our patients. 

5. SGF labs are accredited by the Joint Commission Lab Accreditation and SART 

All SGF labs are accredited by the Joint Commission Lab Accreditation. The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization whose accreditation and certification are recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting or exceeding specific performance standards. 

Our embryology labs are also accredited by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART), an organization whose mission it is to establish and maintain standards for assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to ensure patients receive the highest possible level of care. SART clinics meet the highest standards for quality, safety, and patient care. SGF reports birth outcome data to SART on an annual basis. 

6. SGF embryologist undergo rigorous and comprehensive training protocols  

SGF embryologists undergo a rigorous training program. The program takes 4 to 5 years to complete and requires trainees to progress through a robust series of mentorships, on-the-job training, and scaffolded exposure to different procedures. 

Our embryologists learn procedures in isolation, often taking several months to master each one before receiving the necessary clearance to perform the procedure unassisted. 

Our embryologists have a wealth of experience, even prior to our training. Members of our team come to us after earning their stripes in research or biological sciences fields. Before joining our team, they earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D. 

7. SGF is dedicated to continuously improving outcomes for fertility patients.   

Shady Grove Fertility is a national leader in fertility research and is one of the only private practice fertility centers in the nation to employ a full-time dedicated research team. 

Every year, Shady Grove Fertility is a major contributor to the annual scientific meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the national organization dedicated to the field of reproductive medicine. Many of these studies are eventually published in the world’s leading scientific journals for reproductive medicine, such as Fertility and Sterility or Human Reproduction. 

To schedule an appointment, please contact one of our New Patient Liaisons at 1-877-971-7755 or click here to complete this brief form. 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2019, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of August 2023.