I was born in Rhodes. I graduated from high school in Heraklion and passed the national examination to be admitted to the University of Athens Medical School (1981).
I graduated from Medical School in 1988 and I served my military service as a medical officer in the Hellenic Air Force (1988-90). I then served the mandatory rural medical service (1990-91).
I started working towards my doctoral degree in 1989, at the Laboratory of Endocrine Pharmacology, Basic Sciences Division, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Greece. I completed my PhD thesis in 1994, and left for the USA for further training.
I followed training as a General Surgeon (1992-93), which is a prerequisite for the specialty of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Thenafter (1993-97), I followed training towards the specialty of Obstetrics & Gynecology, at the Ob-Gyn Department of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete.
I was trained in Assisted Reproduction (including in vitro fertilization, IVF) and Gynecological Endocrinology in two of the largest centers worldwide:
1) Division of Human Reproduction, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
2) Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Department of Reproductive Surgery & Medicine, In Vitro Fertilization Unit, London, UK.
In 2001, I was elected Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, I obtained a tenured position in 2006, and I was elected Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical School, University of Crete in 2010. I founded the IVF, Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecological Endocrinology Unit, as well as the Recurrent Miscarriages clinic within the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of the University of Crete.
Research projects & interests
My research focuses on the mechanism of embryo implantation, as well as on tackling endometrial receptivity disorders in cases of recurrent assisted reproduction/IVF failure. My first significant contribution to the understanding of the implantation mechanism was the elucidation of the embryo immune tolerance mechanism on the mother's side during blastocyst implantation. In a study carried out in the USA, we showed that both the blastocyst (early embryo) and the decidua secrete corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) of lymphocytes homing locally to the implantation site. Thus, the graft-host reaction is inhibited; such a reaction should be expected, as the embryo is regarded as a semi-allograft (the father's contribution rendering it non-self in half, vs. the mother) (Makrigiannakis et al, Nat Immunol 2001). By extending the study to the early implantation phases, we showed that the same hormone (CRH) regulates the depth of implantation (Bamberger et al, 2006) and that abnormal implantation due to deficient CRH regulation is essentially associated with abnormal placentation disorders, such as preeclampsia and intrauterine growth retardation (Petsas et al, 2014). Furthermore, in a parallel study, we showed that increased CRH concentration is related to first trimester miscarriages by inducing trophoblast apoptosis (Minas et al, 2007).
I am particularly interested in patients characterized by repeated implantation failures. Although there is no clear definition characterizing these patients, it is widely accepted that a repeated implantation failure case is a patient having failed to establish a clinical pregnancy after three IVF attempts with good quality embryos. These patients usually and understandably experience anxiety and stress, which ultimately makes them "non-responsive" to further attempts. A successful IVF outcome in cases of repeated implantation failure is a challenge for me, both on the clinical and research levels. In studyin new ways of improving the efficiency of assisted reproduction methods, I organized and published a pilot study, in which a significant increase of IVF efficiency was achieved by preparing the endometrium with CRH, and by the intrauterine administration of autologous mononuclear cells (Makrigiannakis et al, Eur J Clin Invest, 2015).
I have also been interested in the molecular mechanisms of folliculogenesis and follicular dysfunction.
I have published 136 papers to date. Most of these publications reflect my research activity in Greece, as well as my research abroad.
I also co-authored 3 chapters in scientific textbooks published internationally, and 2 chapters in Greek scientific textbooks. I have published 14 papers in Greek scientific journals.
I have participated in the educational work of the Medical School of the University of Crete since my PhD thesis years. I also participated in the teaching activity of the centres where I received postgraduate training. As a Professor, I participate in several postgraduate and training courses at the University of Crete and at several other Greek Universities.
Honors & Awards
HONORS – AWARDS
1. BEST STUDY PRIZE ("ALEXANDROPOULEIO") AT THE 6th PANHELLENIC OB-GYN CONGRESS, ATHENS, 1994. A study of the expression and regulation of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) in human endometrial cells. A. Makrigiannakis, E. Zoumakis, A. Gravanis.
2. CHOREMEIO PRIZE, 3rd PRIZE, PANHELLENIC PEDIATRIC CONGRESS, HERAKLION, 1997. Opportunities and limitations of cord blood use for transplants in children. Dimitriou E, Matsouka X, Perdikogianni X, Steiakaki E, Bolonaki E, Lidaki E, Makrigiannakis A, Koumantakis E, Kalmandi M.
3. CLINICAL RESEARCH AWARD (AACR-GLAXO WELLCOME ONCOLOGY CLINICAL RESEARCH SCHOLAR AWARD) OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR CANCER RESEARCH IN GYNECOLOGY. NEW ORLEANS, USA, 1998. Replication selective herpes simplex virus-1 in the treatment of epithelial ovarian cancer. Coukos G, Caparelli D, Makrigiannakis A, Abbas A, Kaiser L, Rubin S, Albelda SM, Molnar-Kimber KL.
4. PRIZE FOR BEST STUDY ON GENE THERAPY OF EPITHELIAL OVARIAN CANCER. 23rd INTERNATIONAL HERPESVIRUS WORKSHOP. YORK, UK. 1998. Replication selective herpes simplex virus-1 and the use of a producer cell line in the treatment of epithelial ovarian cancer. Coukos G, Caparelli D, Makrigiannakis A, Abbas A, Kaiser L, Rubin S, Molnar-Kimber KL.
5. ‘PRESIDENT’S PRESENTER AWARD’ FOR RESEARCH ON REPRODUCTIVE GYNECOLOGY, BY THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF GYNECOLOGIC INVESTIGATION. SOCIETY OF GYNECOLOGIC INVESTIGATION, ATLANTA, USA, 1999. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor (flt-1) mediates the hCG-induced expression of fibronectin (FN) and its a5β1-integrin receptor during corpus luteum formation and luteolysis. Makrigiannakis A, Coukos G, Koi H, Montas S, Coutifaris C.
6. HONOURS AWARD BY THE DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA MEDICAL CENTER, PHILADELPHIA USA, for participating in the following scientific discovery: ‘Producer cells enhance the oncolytic activity of a replication-selective Herpes Simplex Virus-1 mutant in epithelial ovarian cancer in vivo’, which provided the scientific foundation for a patent (L1929)/1999, already deposited by an American phramaceutical company for the production of a drug, to be used in clinical studies aiming at treating ovarian cancer.
7. HONORARY DISTINCTION FROM THE OB-GYN SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND, USA, for the scientific supervision and guidance of the Ob-Gyn Resident Dr. Denise Wallinsky, who received the second prize of the Society's contest for the following study: “Expression of integrins ανβ3 and ανβ5 and ligands OPN and FN in the fallopian tube epithelium”.
8. AWARD AT THE 39th ANNUAL MEETING OF THE EUROPEAN SOCIETY FOR CLINICAL INVESTIGATION - ESCI (Athens, Greece, 2005) for the presentation entitled: “Urocortin is expressed at the implantation site of the human blastocyst”.
9. AWARD AT THE 32nd PANHELLENIC CONGRESS OF ENDOCRINOLOGY AND METABOLISM (Patras, Greece, 2005) for the presentation entitled: “Expression of Prolactin receptor in rat oocytes and pre-implantation embryos”.
10. MANASAKIS SCHOLARSHIP awarded to my PhD student Vassilis Minas (2005-2006).
11. Honorary Corresponding Member of the German Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology (proclaimed at the 59th Congress of the German Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Munich, October 2012)
SCHOLARSHIPS - GRANTS
1. Scholarship from the “Alexander S. Onassis Foundation” for research in Gynecological Endocrinology in the USA (1997-1999)
2. Research Grant from Wyeth,USA (1999)
3. Grant from the “Empirikion Foundation” (2000)
4. Grant from the “Alexander S. Onassis Foundation” for research in Gynecological Endocrinology in Greece (2002-2004)
5. Scholarship from the ΙΚΥDA Program of the Hellenic State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) for fostering basic research cooperation between Greece and Germany (2003-2005)
6. PENED – a funding program for young researchers (03ED626, CSF 00098-1). In vivo & in vitro study of the role of ETS & CRF genes in the development and pathology of the placenta and fetus (2003)
7. Funding from the Hellenic Cooperative Oncology Group (HeCOG) for a study on the role of Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) in immune escape mechanisms of epithelial ovarian cancer.
8. Sponsorship by Procter & Gamble in the name of “George Papanikolaou” for encouraging research in the field of gynecology in Greece for his work entitled: “Mechanisms of folliculogenesis and follicular dysfunction in premature menopause: the role of the Wilms tumor suppressor gene (WT1), the N-cadherin adhesion molecule, and the selective inactivation of the X chromosome” (2007-2008)
9. Sponsorship by Procter & Gamble in the name of “George Papanikolaou” for encouraging research in the field of gynecology in Greece for his work entitled: “Study of factors influencing implantation after intrauterine administration of autologous immunologically-modified (by HCG/CRH) peripheral mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in cases of repeated implantation failure” (2013-14)
MEMBERSHIP IN SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES
1. AAAS - American Association for the Advancement of Science
2. American Endocrine Society
3. ASRM - American Society for Reproductive Medicine (active member)
4. Forum of the Hellenic diaspora for Ob-Gyn and reproduction (Founding member, Athens, November 1998)
5. Hellenic Society for Cancer Research and Therapy
6. Hellenic Gynecological Endocrinology Society
7. MSRM - Mediterranean Society for Reproductive Medicine - Founding member, 2007.
8. ESHRE - European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
9. HSOG - Hellenic Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology
10. Hellenic-German Gynecological Society (Founding member)
11. Corresponding member of the German Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Administrative positions held
a. ESHRE - European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology
i. Member of the Executive Committee
ii. Member of the Advisory Board
iii. Member of the Publications Committee
iv. Member of the Scientific Committee “Best of ESHRE/ASRM”
v. Member of the Steering Committee of the ECRES
vi. Organizer of the ESHRE pre-congress course during the ASRM Annual Meeting (Boston, 2013)
vii. Nominated for Chairman
b. Mediterranean Society for Reproductive Medicine
i. Founding Member
ii. Member of the Executive Committee
iv. Organizer of an International MSRM Meeting in Crete (yearly)
v. MSRM-COGI, Barcelona, Spain, 24-4-2014
c. European Society for Clinical Investigation (ESCI)
i. Member of the Executive Committee