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


Lab Members

  • Tim Jenkins, PhD- Assistant professor, researcher (sperm epigenetics, microfluidics)
  • Doug Carrell, PhD- Clinical lab director and researcher (clinical research, sperm epigenetics and genetics)
  • Jim Hotaling, MD- Male infertility Urologist and researcher (epidemiology, genetics and epigenetics)
  • Lihua Liu- Senior research technician
  • Emma James- PhD student (sperm RNAs and epigenetics)
  • Albert Salas Huetos, Post doctoral fellow (sperm epigenetics, genetics in model prganisms)
  • Viviane Santana- visiting PhD student (sperm epigenetics)
  • Jingtao Guo- Post doctoral fellow (stem cells, gene expression in testicular cell populations, male infertility)
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.



Jenkins TG, Aston KI, Cairns B, Smith A, Carrell DT. Paternal germ line aging: DNA methylation age prediction from human sperm. BMC Genomics. 2018 Oct 22;19(1):763.

Kasak L, Punab M, Nagirnaja L, Grigorova M, Minajeva A, Lopes AM, Punab AM, Aston KI, Carvalho F, Laasik E, Smith LB; GEMINI Consortium, Conrad DF, Laan M. Bi-allelic Recessive Loss-of-Function Variants in FANCM Cause Non-obstructive Azoospermia. Am J Hum Genet. 2018 Aug 2;103(2):200-212.

Nagirnaja L, Aston KI, Conrad DF. Genetic intersection of male infertility and cancer. Fertil Steril. 2018 Jan;109(1):20-26.

Jenkins TG, James ER, Alonso DF, Hoidal JR, Murphy PJ, Hotaling JM, Cairns BR, Carrell DT, Aston KI. Cigarette smoking significantly alters sperm DNA methylation patterns. Andrology. 2017 Nov;5(6):1089-1099.

Anderson RE, Hanson HA, Lowrance WT, Redshaw J, Oottamasathien S, Schaeffer A, Johnstone E, Aston KI, Carrell DT, Cartwright P, Smith KR, Hotaling JM. Childhood Cancer Risk in the Siblings and Cousins of Men with Poor Semen Quality. J Urol. 2017 Mar;197(3 Pt 2):898-905.

Anderson RE, Hanson HA, Patel DP, Johnstone E, Aston KI, Carrell DT, Lowrance WT, Smith KR, Hotaling JM. Cancer risk in first- and second-degree relatives of men with poor semen quality. Fertil Steril. 2016 Sep 1;106(3):731-8.

Carrell DT, Aston KI, Oliva R, Emery BR, De Jonge CJ. The “omics” of human male infertility: integrating big data in a systems biology approach. Cell Tissue Res. 2016 Jan;363(1):295-312.

 Jenkins TG, Aston KI, Meyer TD, Hotaling JM, Shamsi MB, Johnstone EB, Cox KJ, Stanford JB, Porucznik CA, Carrell DT. Decreased fecundity and sperm DNA methylation patterns. Fertil Steril. 2016 Jan;105(1):51-7.e1-3.

Aston KI, Uren PJ, Jenkins TG, Horsager A, Cairns BR, Smith AD, Carrell DT. Aberrant sperm DNA methylation predicts male fertility status and embryo quality. Fertil Steril. 2015 Dec;104(6):1388-97.e1-5.

Jenkins TG, Aston KI, Pflueger C, Cairns BR, Carrell DT. Age-associated sperm DNA methylation alterations: possible implications in offspring disease susceptibility. PLoS Genet. 2014 Jul;10(7):e1004458.

Lopes AM, Aston KI, Thompson E, Carvalho F, Goncalves J, Huang N, Matthiesen R, Noordam MJ, Quintela I, Ramu A, Seabra C, Wilfert AB, Dai J, Downie JM, Fernandes S, Guo X, Sha J, Amorim A, Barros A, Carracedo A, Hu Z, Hurles ME, Moskovtsev S, Ober C, Paduch DA, Schiffman JD, Schlegel PN, Sousa M, Carrell DT, Conrad DF. Human spermatogenic failure purges deleterious mutation load from the autosomes and both sex chromosomes, including the gene DMRT1. PLoS Genet. 2013 Mar;9(3):e1003349.


Current Funding:
R01HD078641 (PIs Conrad/Aston) 09/10/14-05/31/19
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) 08/01/2018-01/31/2021
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.


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.