BS, University of Kentucky
PhD, University of Virginia
Postdoctoral Research, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA
85% Research, 15% Teaching
My research is devoted to understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate early mammalian embryogenesis, and how disruptions in early developmental events can lead to disease later in life. In seeking to understand the early embryo, my research also incorporates the biology of gametes and gametogenesis, particularly the oocyte and oogenesis. This leads into studies of interactions between the oocyte and follicle cells. Additionally, the mechanisms that establish early cell lineages are examined. For over 20 years my laboratory has developed and applied methods for detailed molecular studies of oocytes, embryos, and stem cells. My research encompasses genetics, epigenetics, cell biology, cell physiology, and gene network analysis, providing for a comprehensive approach. This includes heavy use of genome, epigenome, bioinformatic and transcriptome analysis technologies. These genetic, genomic and molecular studies are coupled to the use of microsurgical methods, such as nuclear transfer, cloning, cytoplasm transfer, microinjection, and sperm injection. This powerful combination of methods enables in-depth study of the controlling mechanisms operating inside mammalian oocytes and embryos, despite their limited availability, cost, and small size. Our discoveries highlight the importance of nonhuman primates as research models, as we have documented many profound differences as compared to rodent models. Other studies take advantage of mouse genetic models to identify novel molecular pathways controlling oogenesis and embryogenesis, and to study environmental effects on these processes. Additional studies are addressing mechanisms that determine oocyte quality, the control of meiosis, maternal factors affecting female fertility, and application of genome editing methods in mammalian models. Future plans include the incorporation of other model organisms and the broader study of the effects of environmental toxins on reproduction. Additional collaborative studies are either ongoing or planned with other members of the Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Program.