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“Unsung hero to LGBT community” Dr. Howard W. Jones Jr., the Father of Fertility

By David Kreiner, MD

August 23rd, 2017 at 11:04 am


Dr.David Kreiner with Drs. Georgeanna Jones and Howard W. Jones, Jr.

You may already know that Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr. was the doctor responsible for the birth of America’s first in vitro fertilization “IVF” baby in 1981. IVF and its related technology is the therapy used most often in LGBT family-building.

But you probably didn’t know that the “Father of Fertility” also did ground-breaking work in another medical area that would impact the lives of those in the LGBT community? Work that might raise some eyebrows today, but was positively unfathomable in the 1960s. Let me tell you more about my fascinating mentor.

I first met Howard W. Jones Jr, when I was 29 years old while still an obstetrics and gynecology resident in 1984.  It is now two years since his passing at the age of 104 and his legacy lives on growing greater with each passing year.

He interviewed me back then for a fellowship position in Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility and IVF at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, Va., the first successful IVF center in the Western Hemisphere.  I was in awe of this 74-year-old statesman of the Infertility world.  He was after all famous in the field even before America’s first IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr, was delivered on Dec. 28, 1981 — that first IVF success that Howard W. Jones Jr. and his wife Georgeanna were responsible for in the United States.

I have aspired to live my life and career as the mentor and man I knew as “Dr. Howard” had taught me.  As such, I have been active in the fertility world of the LGBT community, building your families for decades. In addition, my “LGBT Family Building New York” Facebook page is an endeavor I have undertaken to increase awareness. I also enjoy the partnership between Long Island IVF and the LGBT Network on Long Island which serves to improve access to and increase awareness of quality family-building treatment options for the LGBT community.

Dr. Howard was the ultimate medical scientist who did not have a social agenda or prejudice… only an inclination to help all those whom he was capable of helping and if there was not an established way to do so, he worked tirelessly to pave the way.

In the 1960’s– before the general public was aware of what transgender was– Dr. Howard opened the first gender reassignment surgery clinic in the U.S.  For him, this was a way he could utilize his skills learned from performing work on children with ambiguous genitalia to helping those whose gender identities differed from their appearances.

When Dr. Howard established the first successful IVF program west of the Atlantic he did not limit the technology to the married heterosexual couple.  It was his vision that if an individual or couple was in need and desired to start a family that he could offer the latest advances in medicine to assist them.

Remarkably, Dr. Howard was 70 years old when he succeeded with America’s first IVF success.  Rather than accept the retirement his former employer, Johns Hopkins University, had imposed on him due to age, Dr. Howard embarked on arguably the most significant project of his life…IVF.

As I just begin to enter the twilight years of my professional career I look at the accomplishments of my mentor and realize that there is still much good to accomplish.  For me, among other things that means continuing my commitment to making available family building to those in the LGBT community and in so doing perpetuating the legacy of groundbreaking reproductive assistance that was started by the “Father of Fertility”, Dr. Howard W. Jones. Jr.

I encourage all members of the LGBT community who long for a family of their own to meet me and some of the medical staff of Long Island IVF and reproductive attorney, Amy Demma, at our upcoming free event “Building Families in the LGBT Community”, held in conjunction with the LGBT Network at the Center at Bay Shore at 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore, NY 11706 on October 26, 2017. Register here now.




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ASRM 2015: Looking Back and Moving Ahead “We Could Always Do More and Do Better”

By David Kreiner MD

October 18th, 2015 at 12:58 pm

It was fitting that this year’s national infertility meeting, the ASRM was held in Baltimore, the city where the recently deceased Dr. Howard W. Jones Jr. first trained and rose to prominence in the field of reproductive medicine.  In the 1950’s and during his career at Johns Hopkins, he was involved in the controversial biopsy of cervical cancer patient, Henrietta Lacks, which led to the most widely utilized and researched cell line of all time.  Thereafter, he became an expert in genetic disorders and reproductive developmental issues that led to his opening the first transgender surgery clinic.  Remarkably, however, “Dr. Howard” (as we students called him) is best known for work he performed after his retirement from Hopkins when he moved to Norfolk and started the first IVF clinic in the Western Hemisphere resulting in the birth of the country’s first IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr, in 1981.


My first ASRM (called the American Fertility Society at the time) meeting in 1983 was a showcase of this brand new technology of IVF despite a success of 10% in the best clinics. Reproductive surgery was still more successful than IVF so there were presentations by the premier microsurgeons, laparoscopists and hysteroscopists who were demonstrating the latest advances that were becoming available as instrumentation had improved and laser had become a tool of the reproductive surgeon.  IVF was performed laparoscopically and ovarian stimulations were being performed with some variation of human menopausal gonadotropin, Pergonol, derived from the urine of menopausal women and Clomid.


In 2015, we reviewed the impact of social media in the opening presidential lecture urging members of the Reproductive Science community to spread the word about reproductive technology advances and utilize social media tools to educate the public.


In this meeting, it was now recognized that the LGBT community needed to become a special interest group within the ASRM with focus on alternative family-building that was available not just to lesbian couples but to gay male couples and transgenders.


With the successful fertilization and subsequent pregnancies achieved through egg freezing, fertility preservation for women undergoing cancer treatment, gender reassignment or aging prior to a time when they are ready for motherhood is now available. The technology of egg freezing thrusts upon women important new options to be considered (often on an urgent basis) when preparing for chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy or surgery… or simply before aging does irreversible damage to one’s fertility.


There was an Acupuncture symposium that presented research demonstrating improved success with IVF when utilized twice a week for at least 4-5 weeks prior to retrieval, before and after transfer.  The use of the mild male hormone, DHEA, was discussed in yet another symposium as a potential benefit to patients with diminished ovarian reserve to optimize number of eggs and embryos and improve pregnancy rates.


Elective freezing of embryos to transfer in a non-stimulated cycle and embryo-banking combined with complete genomic sequencing of the embryos to selectively transfer only healthy embryos has demonstrated improved success of IVF. And aside from the increased cost and time involved, it appears to be the ideal approach to IVF today.


I think Dr. Howard would be happy with these developments in the field and the direction the society is going both towards a more efficient and safer treatment and to widening its scope to be inclusive of the LGBT community.  Though typical of Dr. Howard, he always thought we could do more and better.  Weeks before his death, he called my friend and former fellow, “Richard S”.  He complemented him on his great work but complained to Richard that he wasn’t measuring some hormone or factor that Dr. Howard thought needed to be checked in Richard’s research…

We have come a long way in the 32 years that I have been active in ASRM. I’m proud that Long Island IVF has always been on the cutting edge of reproductive medical technology with programs and practices already existing for this year’s most popular ASRM topics, including social media, LGBT-focused and friendly alternative family-building, egg-freezing, complete genomic sequencing aka PGS (pre-embryo genetic screening), and acupuncture. Let it never be said that the work is done and that we are satisfied with the status quo.  As Dr. Howard would say, “we could always do more and do better”.

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Have you considered using any of these latest technologies or programs in your family-building plans?


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Remembering My Mentor, Dr. Howard Jones

By David Kreiner MD

August 12th, 2015 at 1:01 pm



credit: Newsday

On July 31, 2015, we lost a great man who with his wife Dr. Georgeanna was responsible for so much in our field of IVF and infertility. Personally, for those of us who trained with Dr. Howard Jones Jr., our careers and lives were permanently and monumentally enhanced. We are who we are, we do what we do… and the way we do it… in large part because of Dr. Howard.


Dr. Howard was not just America’s IVF pioneer but he performed the first transgender surgeries in the U.S. This was his reasoning. “There was a lot of discussion of the appropriateness of doing it — if it would really solve the problem” of a person’s feeling uncomfortable as a man or woman and wanting to change, he said. But the questions about sex-change surgery were not moral or psychological ones, he said — “not what reaction it would have with the general public but, from a medical point of view, if it would really be helpful.”


In 1978, upon retiring to Norfolk to pursue their love of sailing it was reported that the first IVF baby had been born.  The Joneses hadn’t yet finished unpacking when journalists came to their home to interview them about this future Nobel Prize winning event.  Almost as an afterthought…Dr. Jones was asked if IVF could be performed in Norfolk.  In Dr. Howard’s pinpoint precision fashion and with his classic radio announcer voice, he proclaimed that with sufficient funds they could create a successful IVF program in Norfolk.  I have seen a video of this moment and it conjures up images of Babe Ruth promising to hit a home run for that sick boy in the hospital… then pointing to the fence just prior to him knocking one out of the park.


My personal history with Dr. Howard began with when I arrived in Norfolk to start my fellowship the day the Jones Institute moved to their new quarters in the summer of 1985.  By then the Institute had established itself through clinical success and teaching as the center of the IVF universe.  I was in awe of these giants in Reproductive Medicine who warmly welcomed me into the fold and graciously extended themselves to instruct me in the Jones Reproductive Medicine ways.  Dr. Howard was the most amazing role model as he could motivate and direct like a general leading his troops to battle.  He liked to say, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and he did what he could to insure the integrity of each of those links.  Through his time, efforts and knowledge, Drs. Howard and Georgeanna, Dr. Rosenwaks and others at the Institute trained me and in so doing passed the baton of successful family building to open the first successful IVF program in Long Island.


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Losing Dr. Jones: Mourning a Beloved Stranger

By Tracey Minella

August 3rd, 2015 at 6:34 pm


credit: anankkml/

How do you mourn a man you never knew? How do you thank a doctor you’ve never met for making you a mom?

Millions of parents and their miracle children and grandchildren are struggling with those feelings after the death last week of Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr. the pioneer (along with his late wife Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones) of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in America. Today’s IVF patients should be mourning him as well.

Imagine how many of us would be living our lives childless without the hope of ever conceiving or creating a biological child? People who need IVF technology include women with blocked tubes, women with poor quality or no eggs, men with male factor infertility, and some members of the LGBT community.

Maybe I felt closer to him because I’ve been lucky enough to hear Dr. Kreiner over the years tell of his days studying under both of the Dr. Joneses at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, VA. It’s mind-blowing to me to imagine my very own doctor training directly with this legendary pioneer duo and then bringing that knowledge here to Long Island.

Reading up on his life, I came across a few unbelievable tidbits about “Dr. Howard’s” incredible life in this interesting New York Times article*:

  1. He was delivered by Dr. J. King Seegar, the man who would become his father-in-law nearly 30 years later.


  1. He started to study genital anomalies in the 1950s and helped found the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic in 1965, which was the first sex-change clinic in an American hospital. He operated on babies with ambiguous genitalia.


  1. He was involved in cancer studies while at Johns Hopkins and diagnosed cervical cancer in a black woman named Henrietta Lacks in 1951. Though she died rather quickly from that cancer, biologists continued to use Ms. Lacks’ “immortal” cancer cell line (known as HeLa cells) “which led to breakthroughs in research on the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization.” Some have questioned whether she gave appropriate consent for the use of her cells for research.



  1. He took up In Vitro Fertilization as a post-retirement career…something he pursued after mandatory retirement from Johns Hopkins at age 65! He was nearly 71 when the first American IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr, was born in 1981.


  1. He remained active into his 100s, and published a memoir, In Vitro Fertilization Comes to America: Memoir of a Medical Breakthrough, only 10 months ago.


Talk about leaving multiple legacies! But don’t be discouraged. There’s plenty of time for you to mark your own mark on the world. Remember, he didn’t get around to IVF until he retired!

Well, they certainly don’t make men like Dr. Jones anymore. But, thanks to him, Dr. Kreiner and other doctors all over the world continue his legacy and are, in fact, making little men (and little women) every day who could grow up to do great things.

So, on behalf of a grateful nation of your children.. and those who are yet to come… rest easy, Dr. Jones. You’ve certainly earned it.

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If you could tell or ask Dr. Jones one thing, what would it be?





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ASRM Retrospective 30 Years Later

By David Kreiner MD

October 17th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

image courtesy of renjith krishnan/freedigital


Flying into Boston this week it occurred to me that this was the 30 year anniversary of the first ASRM meeting I ever attended.  In 1983, the American Fertility Society “AFS” meeting (as it was called then) was held in San Francisco and I attended as a third year ob-gyn resident. I was in awe attending this huge conference of about 3-5,000 held at the Hyatt Hotel as I recall.

Though I was required to man the Ovcon 35 birth control pill exhibit (since Ovcon’s manufacturer was paying my way), I was drawn to the microsurgery and in vitro fertilization exhibits and presentations.  

In the ballroom, the presenters presided over a few thousand of us eager to hear about the most recent successes in IVF.  Already, Norfolk had achieved dozens of births through this new scientific process which brought gynecological surgeons (laparoscopists) together with embryo biologists, endocrinologists, andrologists and numerous nurses, technicians and office staff.  For me, hearing Dr. Howard Jones, American IVF pioneer, and others speak about their experiences with this life creating technique was exhilarating.

Years later, as a Jones Institute reproductive endocrinology fellow, I would hear Dr. Howard proclaim that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  IVF required every link to maintain its integrity for the process to work.

In 1985, I presented my own paper at the AFS meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.  My wife and two sons joined me.  My presentation on endometrial immunofluorescence in front of hundreds of experts and specialists in the field remains one of the strongest memories in my life.

Today, the ASRM must be held in mega convention centers like the one in Boston where it could accommodate tens of thousands of attendees.  One presentation estimated the number of IVF births worldwide at over five million. Interestingly, per capita, the US performs one fifth the number of IVFs as Europe–where IVF is much more accessible and typically covered by government insurance.

Today, success in the US is better than fifty per cent for most people, thereby making single embryo transfer (“SET”) for good prognosis patients a viable option to avoid the risk of multiple pregnancy. Minimal stimulation IVF (“Micro-IVF”) is a viable alternative for many patients, offering a lower cost and lower risk option.  Egg freezing offers a means of fertility preservation, especially valuable to women anticipating cancer therapy.  Pre-embryo genetic screening (“PGS”) is an option that allows patients to screen for and eliminate genetically undesirable embryos that may otherwise lead to miscarriage or termination.

Looking back at the past thirty years, I am amazed at the progress and achievements made by my colleagues in IVF and happy that I was able to participate in this most rewarding field that has brought so much joy to millions of people.

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photo credit: renjith krishnan


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Infertility Podcast Series: Journey to the Crib: Chapter 22: Cryopreservation of Embryos

By David Kreiner MD

July 8th, 2013 at 8:58 pm


Welcome to the Journey to the Crib Podcast.  We will have a blog discussion each week with each chapter.  This podcast covers Chapter Twenty-Two: Cryopreservation of Embryos. You, the listener, are invited to ask questions and make comments.  You can access the podcast here:

Cryopreservation of Embryos

In 1985, my mentors, Drs. Howard W. Jones Jr and his wife Georgeanna Seegar Jones, the two pioneers of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in the Western Hemisphere, proposed the potential benefits of cryopreserving embryos for future transfers.  They predicted that doing so would increase the overall success rate of IVF and make the procedure safer, more efficient and cost effective. 


One fresh IVF cycle might yield enough embryos so that in addition to performing a fresh embryo transfer in the same cycle as the stimulation and retrieval that additional embryos may be preserved for use in future cycles.  This helps to limit the exposure to certain risks confronted in a fresh cycle such as the use of injectable stimulation hormones, the egg retrieval and general anesthesia.  It also allows patients to minimize their risk for a multiple pregnancy since embryos can be divided for multiple transfers.


At Long Island IVF, we are realizing the Jones’ dream of safer, more efficient and cost- effective IVF, as well as increasing the overall success of IVF. 


Today, an estimated 25% of all assisted reproductive technology babies worldwide are now born after freezing.  Studies performed in Sweden revealed that babies born after being frozen had at least as good obstetric outcome and malformation rates as with fresh IVF.  Slow freezing of embryos has been utilized for 25 years and data concerning infant outcome appear reassuring relative to fresh IVF. 


I personally have pushed to promote the concept of removing the financial pressure to put all your eggs in one basket by eliminating the cost of cryopreservation and storage for those patients transferring a single embryo.  Furthermore, such a patient may go through three frozen embryo transfers to conceive for the price of one at our program.  We truly believe we are practicing the most successful, safe and cost effective IVF utilizing cryopreservation.


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Was this helpful in answering your questions about cryopreservation of embryos?

Please share your thoughts about this podcast here. And ask any questions, whih Dr. Kreiner will answer.

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