Erma Drobnis, PhD

Erma Drobnis, PhD

Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health

Associate Professional Practice Professor
Laboratory Director, Andrology Laboratory



University of Missouri researcher Dr. Erma Drobnis is an internationally recognized expert in sperm biology and male infertility.

Drobnis has studied sperm for several decades. Early work determined the physical forces generated by sperm during fertilization. She also studied sperm freezing, performs sperm banking for cancer patients and authored a book reviewing medication effects on male reproduction.

In clinical andrology (medicine related to males), Drobnis has contributed book chapters and national guidelines on laboratory management and participates in writing the board exam for clinical laboratory directors. She established an MU program helping HIV-infected men safely father children, and she gives lectures and international webinars on this topic.

Through collaborative projects, Drobnis has shown that agricultural chemical exposure decreases semen quality, complex sugars protect sperm from the immune system and hormones at HIV transmission sites may increase infection risk with some contraceptives. Additionally, Drobnis found that chemicals near gas drilling sites impair reproduction in prenatally-exposed male mice; she is now investigating fertility of men living near drilling sites.

For many years, Drobnis has assisted department colleagues with experimental design and research logistics. She currently supports all clinical research as associate director of the Research Success Core.

Dr. Erma Drobnis is an associate professional practice professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health in the School of Medicine. She is a board-certified high complexity laboratory director and leads MU’s Andrology Laboratory.

Download the Featured Profile



Academic Information

Associate Professional Practice Professor
Laboratory Director, Andrology Laboratory
P. 573-817-3124

Research Interests

  • Male Reproductive Health and Fertility
  • Reproductive toxicology
  • Artificial Insemination
  • Semen Analysis
  • Sperm Banking
  • HIV-discordant Reproduction
  • Epidemiology

Education & Training

Post-Graduate School

1988, PhD Physiology, University of California, Davis CA

Awards & Honors

  • 2016 ASRM Service Milestone Award
  • 2015 Award for Excellent Contribution to Human Reproduction Peer Review Process
  • 2014, 2016 Fertility and Sterility Exemplary Reviewer Award
  • 1997 Wakonse Fellowship from the MU Program for Excellence in Teaching
  • 1988 Loren D. Carlson Prize Dissertation in Physiology
  • 1987 Phi Sigma
  • 1981 Earle C. Anthony Fellowship, UCD
  • 1980 Phi Kappa Phi
  • 1980 Sigma Xi Student Travel Award
  • 1979 Gamma Sigma Delta
  • 1971-75 Dean's Honor List. Graduated "With Honors"


PUBLICATIONS : Book, Review Articles & Chapters

  • Drobnis EZ (2016) The Effects of Medications on Male Reproduction. Springer, New York (Accepted by Springer for Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series, which is indexed and receives an Impact Factor)
  • Drobnis EZ, Aubuchon M (2016) Adverse effects of medications on male spermatogenesis and male fertility In: Handbook of Bioenvironmental Toxicology: Men’s Reproductive and Sexual Health, Eds: Sikka SC, Hellstrom WJ. Elsevier, Amsterdam. (in preparation).
  • Drobnis EZ (2016) Quality management in the andrology laboratory. In: Andrological Evaluation of Male Infertility: A Laboratory Guide. Eds: Agarwal A, Gupta S, Sharma R. Springer, New York.pp. 11-27. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-26797-5_2
  • Drobnis EZ (2016) Competency assessment in the andrology laboratory In: Andrological Evaluation of Male Infertility: A Laboratory Guide. Eds: Andrological Evaluation of Male Infertility: A Laboratory Guide. Springer, New York. pp. 29-38. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-26797-5_3

PUBLICATIONS : Editorials, Invited Commentaries, Letters

  • Drobnis EZ. Editorial: Lessons Learned in Andrology: Looking at the sperm in context (2015). Andrology 3:637-642. PMID: 26198795
  • Drobnis EZ, Johnson MH (2015) Editorial Response: The question of sperm DNA fragmentation testing in the male infertility work-up: a response to Prof. Lewis' Commentary. Reproductive BioMedicine Online 31(2):138-139. PMID: 26099439
  • Drobnis EZ, Johnson MH (2014) Editorial: Are we ready to incorporate sperm DNA fragmentation testing into our male infertility work-up? A plea for more robust studies. Reproductive Biomedecine Online 30:111-112. PMID: 2562205
  • Drobnis EZ (2014) Invited Commentary: Sperm retrieval rates and ICSI outcomes for men with nonobstructive azoospermia and the health of resulting offspring. Asian Journal of Andrology 16(4):602-606. PMID: 24759582

PUBLICATIONS : Peer Reviewed

  • Jackson DL, Drobnis EZ, Warncke JC, Stephens AJ, Thomas JL, Barrier BF. Outcomes of robotic hysterectomies performed by primary resident surgeons. (In Review)
  • Marks MBF, Kim ED, Perkins AR, Russell H, Drobnis EZ, Burrows PJ, Marks SHF. Natural conception following vasectomy reversal: impact of antisperm antibodies. (In Review)
  • Star JA, Drobnis EZ, Cornelius C. (2016) Pelvic floor biofeedback via a smart phone app for treatment of stress urinary incontinence. Urologic Nursing 36:82-87. PMID: 27281866
  • Jindal SK, Rawlins R, Muller CH, Drobnis EZ. (2016) Guidelines for risk reduction when handling infectious patients in the IVF lab. Reproductive Biomedicine Online pii: S1472-6483(16)30292-9 PMID: 27235103
  • Thurston SW, Mendiola J, Bellamy AR, Levine H, Wang C, Sparks A, Redmon JB, Drobnis EZ, Swan SH (2016). Phthalate exposure and semen quality in fertile US men. Andrology 4:632-638. PMID: 26601918
  • Kassotis CD, Klemp KC, Vu DC, Lin CH, Meng CX, Besch-Williford CL, Pinatti L, Zoeller RT, Drobnis EZ, Balise VD, Isiguzo CJ, Williams MA, Tillitt DE, Nagel SC (2015) Endocrine-disrupting activity of hydraulic fracturing chemicals and adverse health outcomes after prenatal exposure in male mice. Endocrinology 156(12):4458-4473. PMID: 26465197
  • Bickhaus JA, Drobnis EZ, Critchlow WA, Occhino JA, Foster RT (2015) The Feasibility of Clean Intermittent Self-Catheterization Teaching in an Outpatient Setting. Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery. 21(4):220-224. PMID: 25679356
  • Barrett ES, Parlett LE, Wang C, Drobnis EZ, Redmon JB, Swan SH. (2014) Environmental exposure to di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate is associated with low interest in sexual activity in premenopausal women. Hormones and Behavior 66(5):787-792. PMID:25448532
  • Jensen TK, Swan SH, Jørgensen N, Toppari J, Redmon JB, Punab M, Drobnis EZ, Haugen TB, Zilaitiene B, Sparks A, Irvine S, Wang C, Jouannet P, Brazil C, Paasch U, Salzbrunn A, Skakkebæk NE, Andersson A-M (2014) Alcohol and male reproductive health: a cross-sectional study of 8344 healthy men from Europe and the USA. Human Reproduction 29(8):1801-1809. PMID: 24893607
Download All Publications Download