We use mouse genetics to investigate the molecular mechanisms controlling fertilization (sperm-egg recognition and fusion) in mice and humans. We use zebrafish or transgenic mouse lines that express mutant proteins in place of the endogenous mouse proteins. Using in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques, we test the ability of transgenic gametes to interact for successful fertilization and embryo development. In addition, we work on developing novel assays to improve pregnancy outcomes for fertility treatments.
Avella received his undergraduate degree (Biology major) at the University of Milan, Bicocca (Italy) and his Ph.D. at the Polytechnic University of Marche (Italy) while performing part of his graduate studies on fish reproductive biology at the University of Maryland. He then joined the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda as a post-doctoral fellow. Here, he used mouse genetics to study the molecular mechanisms of mammalian gamete recognition and fertilization. In 2016, Avella pursued further his interests in human reproduction by joining the IVF program at Shady Grove Fertility in Pennsylvania. In 2018, he joined the Department of Biological Science at the University of Tulsa (Oklahoma) as Assistant Professor of Genetics. In January 2022, Avella joined the School of Health Professions at EVMS.