Felipe Martínez-Pastor


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I am currently a researcher at the University of León (Spain), mainly dedicated to the study of many aspects of the spermatology of wild and domestic small ruminants. My attention is dedicated both to basic topics —such as apoptotic markers in mature spermatozoa, oxidative stress or DNA damage— and to applied topics —such as improving freezing protocols for the creation of sperm banks.
I studied Biology in the University of León, graduating in 1999. Afterwards, I carried out my masters (“tesina”) in the Aquaculture group with Dr. Paz Herráez, studying the resistance of rainbow trout to osmotic stress. I went on as a Ph. D. candidate in the Biology of Reproduction group. During my Ph. D. I studied the collection and cryopreservation of red deer spermatozoa obtained post-mortem. In parallel, I carried out other research on roe deer and chamois, and collaborated in other research lines of the group (spermatology of companion, domestic and wild animals). I was in charge of the flow cytometry analyses in the different lines of work of the research group, a skill that I could improve while staying with Dr. Heriberto Rodríguez-Martínez and Dr. Anders Johannisson.

After attaining my Ph. D., I obtained a Juan de la Cierva fellowship, moving to the Biology of Reproduction group in the Wildlife Research National Institute (IREC, UCLM-CSIC-JCCM), in Albacete (Spain). Once there, I obtained funding from the regional government in the form of a research project for studying the oxidative stress after cryopreservation of red deer spermatozoa, and its remediation with antioxidants.

During my post-doc, I collaborated with Dr. Elsa Cabrita (then in the CCMAR of Faro, Portugal), working in the kinematics of Senegalese sole spermatozoa and in the effect of oxidative stress in fish semen. I also spent several months in 2007 and 2008 in Brookfield Zoo (Chicago, USA), collaborating with Dr. Aurelio Malo (then in a post-doc in the Smithsonian Institution, USA) and his supervisor Dr. Robert Lacy (Chicago Zoological Society), in a project dedicated to study the effect of inbreeding in captive wild animals, using the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) as a model. My task was to relate captivity groups with sperm traits, a study whose results are still under analysis.

I obtained my current position after applying for the competitive call of the Ramón y Cajal program (Ministry of Science of Spain). Then, I joined the INDEGSAL (Institute for Animal Wealth and Cattle Development) of the University of León, taking over the line of study on small ruminants (sheep and deer). I am involved in other lines of the group, specially those dedicated to basic sperm analyses and wild species, keeping an interest on the zebrafish line, as a potential model for spermatology studies. Currently, I maintain contact with researchers all around Spain on sperm research (fishes, sheep, amphibians, human), and also in other countries (France, UK and Sweden).

Right now, I am starting interdisciplinary lines together with Dr. González-Montaña (Dep. of Veterinary Medical Sciences). These lines are focused on evaluating the presence of metal elements in the semen and other tissues of ruminants in several areas of the Iberian Peninsula. We are interested in the role of these metals, both as oligoelements (defficiency or excess), or as contaminants (e.g., heavy metals in mining or industrialized areas), their relation in animal tissues with abundance in soil or plants and their effects on animal health. I am contributing by assessing the reproductive health of the animals, especially focusing on males and sperm quality. I have an especial interest in associating metal presence in the semen with sperm parameters. I am also interested in using semen (fresh and from cryobanks) as a biomarker, associating its presence in semen doses with abundance in other tissues and in the grazing area.

Main research lines:

Evaluation of metals (as oligoelements or contaminants) in semen and other tissues from domestic ruminants

Sperm chromatin analysis by flow cytometry

Sperm cryopreservation in wild ruminants

Sperm cryopreservation in ovine cattle