University of UTah

Member Details

Ki Aston, PhD, HCLD
Associate Professor of Surgery (Urology)

 University of Utah
School of Medicine Andrology and IVF Laboratories
675 Arapeen Dr, Suite 201
Salt Lake City, UT 84108

 Telephone: 801-587-3706
Email: University

Team Members


  • Douglas T. Carrell, PhD – Director of Research
  • Timothy G. Jenkins, PhD – Adjunct Assistant Professor
  • Benjamin Emery, MPhil – Clinical Lab Manager
  • Albert Salas-Huetos, PhD – Post Doctoral Fellow
  • Jingtao Guo, PhD – Assistant Professor
  • Emma James – Graduate Student


Improvement of and setting standards for clinical phenotyping, building structures to collect well-phenotyped patient groups, e.g. based on testicular histology.

Member Description

Dr. Aston completed his Ph.D. at Utah State University, where he evaluated factors associated with somatic cell nuclear transfer efficiency and nuclear reprogramming. He was involved in bovine nuclear transfer and was part of the first group to successfully clone an equine species. Following his graduate training, Ki joined the Andrology and IVF team at the University of Utah as a Post Doctoral Fellow and later as a member of the faculty in the Division of Urology. His research team focuses on identifying genetic and epigenetic factors associated with male infertility. He is a lead investigator for the NIH-funded Genetics of Male Infertility Initiative (GEMINI), which will generate exome sequences on 1000 men with idiopathic nonobstructive azoospermia. In addition, his lab is involved in several projects to define the normal sperm epigenome, to identify factors that alter sperm epigenetic profiles and to characterize the impacts of altered sperm epigenetics on offspring phenotype.


Murphy PJ, Guo J, Jenkins TG, et al (2020) NRF2 loss recapitulates heritable impacts of paternal cigarette smoke exposure. PLoS Genet 16:e1008756.

Patel DP, Jenkins TG, Aston KI, et al (2020) Harnessing the full potential of reproductive genetics and epigenetics for male infertility in the era of “big data”. Fertil Steril 113:478–488.

Jenkins TG, James ER, Aston KI, et al (2019) Age-associated sperm DNA methylation patterns do not directly persist trans-generationally. Epigenetics Chromatin 12:74.

Salas-Huetos A, James ER, Aston KI, et al (2019) The Expression of miRNAs in Human Ovaries, Oocytes, Extracellular Vesicles, and Early Embryos: A Systematic Review. Cells 8:.

Lee AS, Rusch J, Lima AC, et al (2019) Rare mutations in the complement regulatory gene CSMD1 are associated with male and female infertility. Nat Commun 10:4626.

Salas-Huetos A, James ER, Aston KI, et al (2020) The role of miRNAs in male human reproduction: a systematic review. Andrology 8:7–26.

Salas-Huetos A, James ER, Aston KI, et al (2019) Diet and sperm quality: Nutrients, foods and dietary patterns. Reprod Biol 19:219–224.

Jenkins TG, Aston KI, Cairns B, et al (2018) Paternal germ line aging: DNA methylation age prediction from human sperm. BMC Genomics 19:763.

Kasak L, Punab M, Nagirnaja L, et al (2018) Bi-allelic Recessive Loss-of-Function Variants in FANCM Cause Non-obstructive Azoospermia. Am J Hum Genet 103:200–212.

Nagirnaja L, Aston KI, Conrad DF (2018) Genetic intersection of male infertility and cancer. Fertil Steril 109:20–26.

Jenkins TG, James ER, Alonso DF, et al (2017) Cigarette smoking significantly alters sperm DNA methylation patterns. Andrology 5:1089–1099.

Anderson RE, Hanson HA, Lowrance WT, et al (2017) Childhood Cancer Risk in the Siblings and Cousins of Men with Poor Semen Quality. J Urol 197:898–905.

Anderson RE, Hanson HA, Patel DP, et al (2016) Cancer risk in first- and second-degree relatives of men with poor semen quality. Fertil Steril 106:731–738.

Carrell DT, Aston KI, Oliva R, et al (2016) The “omics” of human male infertility: integrating big data in a systems biology approach. Cell Tissue Res 363:295–312.

Jenkins TG, Aston KI, Meyer TD, et al (2016) Decreased fecundity and sperm DNA methylation patterns. Fertil Steril 105:51-57.e3.

Aston KI, Uren PJ, Jenkins TG, et al (2015) Aberrant sperm DNA methylation predicts male fertility status and embryo quality. Fertil Steril 104:1388-1397.e5.

Jenkins TG, Aston KI, Pflueger C, et al (2014) Age-Associated Sperm DNA Methylation Alterations: Possible Implications in Offspring Disease Susceptibility. PLoS Genet 10:e1004458.

Lopes AM, Aston KI, Thompson E, et al (2013) Human Spermatogenic Failure Purges Deleterious Mutation Load from the Autosomes and Both Sex Chromosomes, including the Gene DMRT1. PLoS Genet 9:e1003349.


Current Funding:
R01HD078641 (PIs Conrad/Aston) 2014-2021
Title: Genomics of Spermatogenic Impairment
The goal of this project is to use genome-scale next-generation sequencing to improve our understanding of the genomic basis of Spermatogenic failure (SF), and to establish the framework required to integrate genome data into the clinical management of male infertility.

R44HD097033 (PIs Samuel/Jenkins/Aston) 2018-2021
Title: Sperm sample preparation for point of care applications
The goal of this project is to develop a point of care tool that employs microfluidic strategies to purify sperm for intrauterine insemination.

R44HD095355 (PI Aston) 2019-2021
Title: Sperm sample preparation for point of care applications 2019-2021

Utah Genome Project Pilot Grant (PI Aston)  2020
Title: Sperm mutation rates and genomic stability in fertile and infertile men at single-cell resolution

Completed funding:
R01HD082062 (PIs Aston/Cairns) 02/24/15-01/31/18
Title: Transgenerational Effects of Smoking-Induced Changes to Sperm DNA Methylation
The goal of this project is to evaluate the impact of cigarette smoking on the sperm methylome in men and a mouse model. In the mouse model we will also evaluate the effects of paternal smoke exposure on offspring phenotype.