Principle Investigator: Stephanie A. Pangas, PhD
Reproductive disorders, contraception, and family planning have major impacts on the health and well-being of individuals world-wide. The goal of this NIH-sponsored training program is to prepare young scientists to address these important problems through basic and translational research and in research-related careers that require expertise in reproductive biology. Baylor College of Medicine is a long-standing leader in reproductive biology research. The goal of our program is to provide the necessary skills and experience to prepare the next generation of scientists for successful and diverse careers in reproductive biology.
This program supports two predoctoral and four postdoctoral trainees. The following is a summary of the training program:
- Mentored state-of-the-art biomedical research training in some of the world’s premier reproductive biology laboratories.
- Structured committees for both pre- and postdoctoral fellows guided by an Individual Development Plans (IDP) tailored to each trainee’s needs.
- Wide-ranging career development activities though the Career Development Center.
- Activities to enhance skills in teaching, clinical/translational work, and entrepreneurship within the world’s largest medical center.
- A mentored journal club that coincides with the Reproductive Biology Lecture series
- An annual mini-symposium
- Mentor-mentee training from facilitators trained from the NIH funded National Research Mentor Network
- A novel “Ethics in Reproductive Health Learning Unit”
Trainee mentors have been selected for contemporary research interests in reproductive biology and are currently supported by over $14 million in funding. Their research areas include studies of key reproductive biology proteins, normal and pathophysiology of male and female reproductive tissues, genetic and environmental factors that affect fertility, and translational research (male contraceptive development and developmental origins of adult disease). The training faculty use cutting edge approaches to study reproductive processes using genetic models, patient samples, in vitro models, and clinical data. The following principle investigators are part of this program:
- Kjersti Aagaard, MD PhD: Developmental origins of disease, pre-term birth
- Swathi Arur, PhD: Germ cell development in C. elegans
- Richard Behringer, Ph.D: Reproductive tract developmental and comparative biology
- Irina Larina, PhD: Novel in vivo imaging in reproductive biology
- Thomas Garcia, PhD: Male contraceptive development
- John Lydon, PhD: Implantation and pregnancy
- Martin Matzuk, MD PhD: Male & female infertility models, contraceptive development
- Diana Monsivais, PhD. Uterine biology, pregnancy, and endometriosis
- Bert O’Malley, MD: Steroid receptor function
- Stephanie Pangas, PhD: Ovary and oocyte development.
- Joanne Richards, PhD: Ovarian follicle development and ovulation.
- Igna Van den Veyver, MD: Maternal effect genes and recurrent pregnancy loss
- Jianming Xu, PhD: Nuclear receptor co-regulators in reproductive tissues
- Chandra Yallampalli, PhD: Diabetes, pregnancy, and pre-term birth.
PROGRAM RESEARCH THEMES:
Endocrinology and Hormone Action: Studies are being conducted on the structure and function of molecules important for fertility in reproductive and other tissues. For example, recent studies include the first cryo EM structure of a steroid receptor (estrogen receptor complexed with coregulators), identification of a progesterone receptor phosphorylation site required for optimal fertility in mice, and testing potential endocrine disruptors for their effects on estrogen receptor action.
Reproductive Physiology: Investigators study the normal physiology of reproductive organs such as uterus, ovary, male reproductive tissues using in vivo and in vitro model systems as well as clinical sample. Most PIs typically extend these to pathology of these same organs, including those that affect fertility, such as primary ovarian insufficiency and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Genetic and Environmental Factors: These studies include those involved with genetic and environmental factors that affect reproductive function and fetal development, as well as the developmental origin of human adult disease. Studies range from identification of mutations that affect male and female reproductive tract development, fertility, as well as how diseases such endometriosis and diabetes alter fertility, pregnancy, and development.
Contraceptive Development and Drug Discovery: Multiple investigators study male and female contraceptive target design and drug discovery. BCM is home to the Center for Drug Discovery, which includes state of the art screening to perform cell based-phenotypic and target-based biochemical assays. The Center currently has both DNA encoded chemical and small molecule libraries for use in large-scale screens.