Unexpected Passion: Tyl Taylor ’02 Finds Path As Leader in IVF

News Story categories: Alumni Biology
Tyl Taylor Biology Alumni

Tyl Taylor ‘02 stood in front of Copley 101, addressing Randolph-Macon biology students in Dr. Chas Gowan’s biology capstone class.

“You have no idea what you’re going to fall in love with,” Taylor told them.

He was speaking from experience. Twenty years ago, Taylor was on the other side of the lectern, a biology undergrad struggling with a lab assignment examining fruit flies. Frustrated, he swore to himself that he’d never do anything with genetics or in a laboratory setting, instead graduating with an ecology emphasis.

But after moving to Atlanta with his girlfriend Stacie Lin ‘02, now his wife, he got his first job with Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte (REACH) as a junior embryologist in their Atlanta lab. REACH provides patients with fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), which embryologists lead. Despite his initial aversion to the world of genetics, once Taylor got started in embryology, he was driven to forge a path in the IVF industry. Today—after making stops at different labs and industry vendors across the country, all while continuing his education and research—Taylor holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Kent in England and is the lab director of andrology and embryology for REACH.

As someone who has conducted research throughout his career, Taylor’s message to research-inclined students is to keep things simple, seeking one answer for one question.

“You don’t have to have groundbreaking work; there is research everywhere,” Taylor said. “All my research deals with very practical, very easy, very testable things that I can bring forth into the lab to make my life easier or to bring better outcomes.”

Tyl Taylor looking int0 a microscope in a lab

One such study found a protocol for warming frozen embryos that cut the procedure time from 14 minutes to one minute while still maintaining the rate of successful pregnancies, significantly improving the lab’s efficiency. Taylor has also worked with different technologies at the forefront of the field, including oocyte vitrification—the freezing of embryos—and Next-Generation Sequencing of DNA.

Working in an IVF lab comes with a significant amount of pressure—people invest tens of thousands of dollars for a chance to get pregnant that they might not have had otherwise. Taylor takes that task seriously, saying, “my sole responsibility is to make sure that the lab works every day and that I am doing the best for the patient.”

In addressing Dr. Gowan’s class, Taylor offered an authentic perspective from his role as a biologist and leader, noting the balancing act between doing what’s right for the patient and what’s best for the business. While he shared doses of his reality, he also encouraged them to pursue opportunities in the field. His confidence in the role they will play in the future of genetics research came with a challenge and an offer to go into business with any student that can help his lab more accurately track gametes and embryos throughout the IVF process.

Taylor and his wife want to pay it forward and recently created an annual scholarship for a biology senior from an historically underrepresented background in the STEM fields. “Eventually you have to return the favor, and those groups that are hindered by society and hindered financially, they need help,” Taylor said. “I can’t do IVF unless the embryologists show up that day. This isn’t just me; this is my team. That’s the most important thing and that’s why I give back, because none of this I did on my own.”