SSR 2024 Rising Stars #4

Speaker: Dr. Amanda Patterson, University of Missouri School of Medicine

Title: Towards understanding mesenchymal-epithelial transition in endometrial epithelial regeneration.

Description: Mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) is critical for fetal tissue and organ development and is exploited by pathologies such as cancer and fibrosis. The uterus uses this mechanism in adults under non-pathological conditions to regenerate the endometrial epithelium following parturition and in menstruation-like conditions in mice. During this webinar, I will discuss the advances made in understanding MET in normal physiological regeneration events to gain insight into its role in pathologies when dysregulated.

Speaker: Dr. Xiaoqiu (Churchill) Wang, North Carolina State University

Title: Decoding molecular mechanisms controlling uterine aging.

Description: Advanced maternal age (i.e., ≥35 years old) is associated with an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as infertility, preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, congenital heart disease and other fetal abnormalities. Much attention has been focused on ovarian function and oocyte quality (“the Seed”); but we provide evidence that defects in uterine decidualization (a process of uterine stroma cell proliferation and differentiation to accommodate implanting embryo; “the Soil”) could be a major cause of age-related reproductive decline in mice, which, in turn, interferes with the establishment of a functional feto-maternal exchange unit. In this talk, I will discuss our recent efforts on elucidating the mechanisms underlying reproductive aging in the uterus, particularly the convergence of the Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) signaling pathway and the hormonal endometrial response during endometrial decidualization.

SSR 2024 Rising Stars #3

Speaker: Dr. Haiqi Chen, UT Southwestern Medical Center, USA

Title: Spatially resolved, functional dissection of the spermatogonial stem cell niche

Description: Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) in the testis support the lifelong production of sperm. SSCs reside within specialized microenvironments called ‘‘niches,’’ which are essential for SSC self-renewal and differentiation. In this talk, I will discuss our recent efforts to combine spatial transcriptomics, computational analyses, and functional assays to systematically dissect the molecular, cellular, and spatial composition of SSC niches.

Speaker: Dr. Fei Zhao, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Title: Cell fate decisions in sex duct development

Description: Alfred Jost’s work in the 1940s laid the foundation of the current paradigm of sexual differentiation of reproductive tracts. Using genetic animal models, ex vivo experiments, and single cell sequencing based technologies, we have gained significant insights into this process, challenging existing dogmas. The yielded knowledge will enable us to not only decipher the fundamental process of dimorphic establishment of reproductive tracts, but also provide insights into how defects and diseases originate from impaired fetal development.

SSR 2024 Rising Stars #2

Speaker: Dr. Britt Goods, Dartmouth College, USA

Title: Using single-cell transcriptomics to understand ovulation and drive contraceptive discovery

Description: Single-cell methods have revolutionized our ability to understand complex processes. My research leverages these methods, including single-cell RNA-sequencing, to better understand ovulation and inform drug discovery. Here, I will discuss some recent work we have performed to understand factors that drive ovulation over time with spatial transcriptomics datasets and how we have used this, plus data integration methods, to nominate novel drug targets.

Speaker: Dr. Azusa Inoue, RIKEN, Yokohama, Japan

Title: Genomic imprinting mediated by maternal histone modifications

SSR 2024 Rising Stars #1

Speaker: Dr. Katy Patras, Baylor College of Medicine, USA

Title: Gestational diabetes disrupts maternal immunity and the vaginal microbiota to promote bacterial infection.

Description: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a pervasive perinatal pathogen, and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) increases the risk of GBS perinatal disease although the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Using a novel murine GDM model of GBS colonization, we found that GDM mice had greater GBS dissemination and worse neonatal outcomes. GDM altered host responses, including reduced uterine natural killer cell activation and recruitment, and distinct vaginal microbial taxa were associated with GDM status and GBS invasive disease status. Our translational model of GBS perinatal transmission in GDM hosts recapitulates several clinical aspects and enables discovery of host and bacterial drivers of GBS perinatal disease.

Speaker: Dr. Daniel Mathew, University of Tennessee, USA

Title: The In Vitro Produced Conceptus: What the Endometrium Can Tell Us

Description: The early conceptus creates a microenvironment with the surrounding endometrium, supporting pre-implantation development. During this webinar I’ll discuss how the in vitro produced cow conceptus impacts the endometrial transcriptome and surrounding proteome compared to the in vivo derived conceptus and how that may influence establishment of pregnancy.

Placental strategies supporting fetal growth during normal and suboptimal gestational environments

The placenta is essential for mammalian development and a key determinant of life-long offspring health. It is responsible for transporting all the nutrients and oxygen a fetus needs to develop and grow and secretes hormones that adapt maternal physiology to support the pregnancy. However, the placenta is not a static organ. In this talk I will present our work undertaken in experimental models showing that placental formation and function adapts developmentally to the needs of the growing fetus during normal gestation, as well as in response to suboptimal gestational environments, namely obesity and hypoxia. Impairments in placental formation and function have consequences for fetal growth and birthweight, which in turn, dictate perinatal survival and risk of non-communicable diseases in later postnatal life. Thus, identifying how the placenta responds and adapts to developmental and environmental cues may be informative for the design of strategies to optimise pregnancy and long-term health outcomes.

Opportunities for Innovation in microTESE Negative Males With Non-Obstructive Azoospermia

This talk will discuss the opportunities for innovation in microTESE negative non-obstructive azoospermic males. We will discuss opportunities for applying image-based machine learning for sperm identification following microTESE. We will also discuss a personalized and precision medicine framework aiming to overcome cellular dysfunction and promote regeneration of spermatogenesis using single cell sequencing, development of novel culture methods, use of human induced pluripotent stem cells and 3D bioprinting.

Storing Sugar in the Uterus: Glycogen Metabolism during Early Pregnancy

The endometrium needs to regulate glucose availability precisely; too much or too little impairs decidualization and embryo development. We have shown that the epithelium and decidua store distinct pools of glucose as glycogen during early pregnancy. Thus, glycogen may represent a vital way to buffer glucose concentrations before and during implantation.

Sex-differences in immune aging: are we missing half of the picture?

Neutrophils are the most abundant human white blood cell and constitute a first line of defense in the innate immune response. Neutrophils are short-lived cells, and thus the impact of organismal aging on neutrophil biology, especially as a function of biological sex, remains poorly understood. We have generated a multi-omic resource of mouse primary bone marrow neutrophil from young and old female and male mice, at the transcriptomic, metabolomic and lipidomic levels. We identified widespread regulation of neutrophil ‘omics’ landscapes with organismal aging and biological sex. In addition, we leveraged this data to predict functional differences, including changes in neutrophil responses to activation signals. To date, this dataset represents the largest multi-omics resource for neutrophils across sex and ages. This resource identifies neutrophil characteristics which could be targeted to improve immune responses as a function of sex and/or age.

New Non-hormonal Contraceptive Targets

These webinars, sponsored by the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), Frontiers in Reproduction (FIR), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will focus on emerging technologies and approaches to male and female contraception.


Dr. Lonny R. Levin, Professor of Pharmacology, Weill Cornell Medical College

Read more about Dr. Levin’s Presentation

Title: On-demand nonhormonal male contraception via ADCY10 inhibition

Description: Fast-acting sAC inhibitors with slow off-rates can provide safe, pre-coital, on-demand contraception for men which is nonhormonal, orally available, easily tolerated, fast-acting, and readily reversible.

Dr. Celia Santi, Associate Professor of OBGYN, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Read more about Dr. Santi’s presentation!

Title: Targeting the sperm-specific K+ channel SLO3 for non-hormonal contraception.

Description: Identification of inhibitors of the sperm specific SLO3 K+ channel that can be developed into a non-hormonal class of female contraceptives that act by targeting sperm capacitation.

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