Dr. Anna Gusareva

Leading Embryologist

ESHRE Certified Senior Clinical Embryologist

    My education and work experience

    I was born in Moscow, Russia. Graduated from Moscow State University, Biological faculty, Department of Embryology in 1996 with honours. I enjoyed studying there very much — I was passionate about biology and embryology in particular, I found a lot of dear friends in the uni with many of whom we are close  to this day. The best part of it was summer practices in various natural reserves in Russia, so I travelled a lot. It was not an easy time in Russia — after Perestroika we had a lot of freedom but sometimes nothing to eat, literally. But I was young at this time and these problems didn't bother me. If you can buy grechka (buckwheat) today in uni’s canteen — you are lucky, life is going on! But it was a hard time for my parents eventually, they had to earn money and find food to feed the family.

    After graduating from uni I decided to pursue my scientific career as a postgraduate student. I studied mammalian embryology and was working on a project on mouse embryos. I liked the work and my scientific adviser, everything looked just fine. But I started to think about the future and becoming financially independent from my parents. So I’ve heard that in the major state gynaecological center in Moscow there is an opening for the position of embryologist. I never thought of a career in IVF at that time, to say more — there were only 4 IVF clinics in Moscow in 1996 (now there are around 100). But I decided to give it a shot and was immediately hired. This caught me by surprise — I knew very little about human embryology at that time. However, I was the only embryologist at the clinic with a master's degree, others had a lot of experience but no proper education. And so, without having time to think about what I was getting into, I began to lead embryologists in a medical clinic. Working in medicine is a completely different matter than in academic science and I realized it very soon. But at the same time I fell in love with this work — and there was no turning back. 

    Famous prof. Boris Leonov was the head of the clinic and the first IVF baby in the USSR was born in 1987 with the help of him and his team.

    Famous prof. Boris Leonov was the head of the clinic and the first IVF baby in the USSR was born in 1987 with the help of him and his team.

    I was dreaming of a career in science and thought of this work as a chance to get some financial security during my postgraduate study in uni. And I had no idea that this job would reshape me completely and become my calling. In those early days we usually had not the best equipment and supplies, lack of trusted scientific information and our results were not so impressive. But every day at work I saw miracles. Not only saw them but made them with my own hands and that was the point where I realized that it is what I want to devote my life to. Not some theoretical knowledge but bringing science to help unfertile couples to get their own children. Many years passed by, but I never regret that twist. After 6 years in Prof. Leonov’s lab I worked for 15 years in a well-known private clinic in Moscow, founded by one of Boris Leonov’s coworkers, Elena Kalinina. She was the doctor who achieved the birth of the first IVF baby in the USSR - girl named Alena. It is a busy clinic and working there as an embryologist and Lab Director gave me a lot of experience and made me who I am today. Unlike many embryologists who prefer not to have direct contacts with patients I like to do consultations. For many years I was challenged by IVF patients on the online board “Probirka” answering tough questions. At that time very little reliable information about IVF was available in Russian — so I did my best to satisfy patients' hunger for advice and guidance.

    I have a lovely husband and 3 kids and my primary wish for our patients is to have childrenI have a lovely husband and 3 kids and my primary wish for our patients is to have children
    I have a lovely husband and 3 kids and my primary wish for our patients is to have children. No matter how long and bumpy your road to your child was – his/her existence will change everything.

    My mission as an embryologist

    Since 1997 IVF field and especially embryology has made a huge progress and is developing very quickly. As an embryologist you not only have to keep in pace with modern scientific achievements but sustain a very high quality of work to promote the safest and best available care for our patients. Our day-to-day job is sometimes challenging and takes complete focus and precision to make the first several days of life of the future baby less stressful, protect and nourish them until the time that they can continue to grow in the mother's uterus. We have to make a lot of decisions in that short period of time – which sperm cell to select for fertilization, which embryo has the best chances of success and which one is not. Culture conditions for the embryos must be optimal all the time, so we must use the best available equipment, culture media and protocols, maintain the stability and high quality of each piece of the puzzle. 

    When I talk to people about my job they often smile and say: “Really? That is your job? Fantastic!” And you know what? It really is. For more than 20 years of work as embryologist and IVF lab director I couldn’t count how many embryos passed through my hands and how many babies were born – there is no point in counting. This day-to-day job is fascinating and challenging at the same time. But also,so rewarding and addictive. The best part of it is that the result of your work is a beautiful long-awaited baby who you saw not long ago under the microscope. Isn’t that a miracle?

    The O.L.G.A. Fertility Clinic

    In early 2019 I moved from Moscow to Saint Petersburg to join Olga Zaytseff’s Clinic because I wanted to work with this miraculous team. Each and every member of it is a star but also a great team player which is really rare. I felt that stimulating vibe and wanted to be a part of it. Each day I come to my lab with excitement and gratitude because we have the best possible staff, equipment and working conditions an embryologist could imagine. My fellow senior embryologist – Svetlana Shlykova is my good friend for years and a fantastic professional. She was a head of one of the busiest and famous IVF clinics in Russia, made a very efficient embryology lab from scratch, and had maybe more experience than any other embryologist in Russia with the most hard and rare cases. And from my more than 20 years’ experience as a lab director in different IVF labs I could tell – O.L.G.A. Clinic is the best place you could come to fulfill your dream for a baby.

    My interests outside of work

    My interests are not limited by work and family, I love to spend time with my friends, especially on vacations. With my friends from uni and their families we travel together a lot. Our favorite places are the north of Russia, especially the White Sea, and Finland. Gathering berries and mushrooms, fishing, living in tents — this is a favorite vacation not only for us, but also for our children.

    I’m also a great fan of art museums — in every city I visit, I definitely go to art galleries.  Theaters are my other passion. Moving to St. Petersburg opened so many great opportunities for me to widen my cultural horizon. It’s a beautiful city with an inexhaustible number of treasures, so it is not surprising that in Russia St. Petersburg is considered the cultural capital.

     
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    VG.no, Norway | 30 March 2024 | Nora Thorp Bjørnstad | Fredrik Solstad (Photo) | Translation to English: Anna Svarynskaya

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    Dr. Olga's Patients' Gathering in Stockholm

    Dr. Olga's Patients' Gathering in Stockholm

    August 2017


    Dr. Olga's Patients' Gathering in Oslo

    Dr. Olga's Patients' Gathering in Oslo

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