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My Research

Diane Tober, PhD, of University of California, San Francisco, was awarded a three-year National Science Foundation research grant for her research exploring "The Effects of Socio-Cultural Context on Human Bio-Markets: Comparing Egg Donation in the United States and Spain.” For this project, she will be collaborating with colleagues at universities in Spain. Research collaborators include: Nancy Konvalinka, Maria Isabel Jociles, Consuelo Alvarez Plaza and Elena Hernández Corrochano. Here is more about the project:

Over the past few decades, advances in medical science have increased the potential uses of donated and sold human bio-materials. As innovation has increased, so have questions about costs, outcomes, and ethics. In response, a variety of different regulatory policies have been adopted across the globe. This variation across countries provides an excellent opportunity for comparative research to see to what degree policy differences produce different outcomes for donors, recipients, and other stakeholders. To this end, Dr. Diane Tober is leading a research project to explore “The Effects of Socio-Cultural Context on Human Bio-Markets,” in collaboration with researchers at University of Distance Education and from Complutense University, both in Madrid, Spain.


The research will investigate the effects of socio-cultural context on the governance of human bio-material donation and sale by focusing on one area of bio-material donation -- compensated donation of human eggs. Our research sites include the United States and Spain, both of which are primary locations and destinations for fertility treatment with donated eggs, but under dramatically different regulatory conditions. The purpose of this project is to understand how different bio-material markets operate within distinct cultural and regulatory environments intersect with egg donors’ decisions and experiences.


This project will: 1) explore the cultural and medical logics that underlie regulations and policy-making; 2) gather in-depth narratives from women who provide eggs, physicians and fertility professionals and policy-makers in order to understand the intersections between regulatory contexts and donor experiences; 3) develop and refine a survey in both Spanish and English pertaining to egg donors’ experiences. This study will run from August 1, 2018 through July 31, 2021, and is funded by the National Science Foundation.


This project builds open her decades of research on people's experiences with infertility, assisted reproductive technologies and family-building, sperm and egg donors, and family building among single and LGBTQ people.


For more information about the research, contact,, or visit her research website:

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