The SSR Distinguished Fellowship recognizes active SSR members for their outstanding contributions to the field of reproductive biology and to the Society, illustrated by sustained high impact research, leadership, service and mentorship.

The SSR Congratulates the 2024 Distinguished Fellows!

Andrea Cupp, PhD

University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Dr. Andrea Cupp is the Irvin T. and Wanda R. Omtvedt Professor of Animal Science in the Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). After receiving her B.S. degree in Animal Science at Virginia Tech (1988) she received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Reproductive Endocrinology/Physiology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1994). She then started her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California-San Francisco, where she was awarded a USDA postdoctoral fellowship (1995), which was completed at Washington State University (1998) upon her postdoctoral mentor’s relocation to develop a reproductive biology center. In 2000, she obtained an Assistant Professor position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Here she rose to Full Professor in 2011 and received her endowed Omtvedt Professorship in 2015. She currently holds a courtesy appointment in OBGYN at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She has published 135 papers, >7540 citations, a H-index of 41 and has been continuously funded by NIH and USDA since 2003 which evidences her sustained research success. She has also made a significant contribution to training the next generation of reproductive biologists mentoring 6 postdocs, 26 graduate students, 24 undergraduate students and 3 visiting scholars to date.

Dr Cupp has undoubtedly made a transformative and enduring impact in the field of reproductive biology throughout her career, which includes research to advance our understanding of the mechanisms of embryonic and early postnatal testis and ovarian development including the role of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA), bovine reproductive endocrinology, ovarian and corpus luteum formation, and characterization of novel bovine models of puberty, androgen excess, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and sub-fertility. Ongoing work to characterize the gene expression profiles of ovarian theca and granulosa cells during the process of differentiation and luteinization, as well studies showing that VEGF-A(165) can be utilized to normalize the aberrant cell physiology observed in the ovarian cortex of cows with high follicular androgen levels have furthered our understanding of ovarian physiology. She has been awarded the UNL Jr. Faculty Excellence in Research Award (2004), SSR New Investigator Award (2006), American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) Young Scientist Award (2006), ASAS Physiology and Endocrinology Award (2017), Distinguished Alumni Award for College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Virginia Tech (2017) and was inducted into Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement (2022).

Regarding service to SSR, Dr Cupp has also demonstrated outstanding and enduring leadership over the past 25 years. She was Vice President Elect, Vice President, President and Past President from 2017-2021 and has served on the Board of Directors, including acting as Secretary from 2013-2016. During her membership, she has also acted as liaison to the Heritage Committee, the By-Laws Committee, the Virtual Education Committee and the Nomination Committee. She served on the Program Committee (2003-2006), Awards Committee (2006-2009), Board of Reviewing Editors from 2009-2013, the Public Affairs Committee (2008-2011), the Membership Committee from 2011- 2013, and served as the Newsletter Editor from 2008- 2011. She continues to serve SSR on the Publication Committee 2024-present.

Vasantha Padmanabhan, MS, PhD

University of Michigan


Dr. Padmanabhan received her PhD from the Indian Institute of Science. Her career at the University of Michigan began in 1985. She is an active Professor Emerita in the Departments of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Molecular and Integrative Physiology in the School of Medicine and Departments of Environmental Health Sciences and Nutritional Sciences in the School of Public Health. Dr. Padmanabhan’s body of published work, service to the SSR, and enduring impact in the field of reproductive science all embody the attributes of a SSR Distinguished Fellow.

She has been continuously NIH funded since 1988, published over 250 peer reviewed manuscripts with an H-index of 74 (~20,000 citations). Her active funding includes PI or co-I role on 6 NIH R01s, MPI in a T32 and an Associate Director role on a P30 grant.

Her remarkable career involves several translational discoveries –developmental origin of reproductive/metabolic deficits; transmission across generations; developmental impact of endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) mixtures and recently transgender medicine. Her pioneering work in endocrinology, toxicology and the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) is at the crossroads of basic and clinical research.

Her key achievements include: 1) development of one of the first two in vitro FSH bioassays, 2) first in vivo demonstration of separate episodic and constitutive release of FSH, 3) development of a sheep model of PCOS and documentation of the impact of postnatal obesity in amplifying PCOS severity, 4) identifying preventative interventions to stop PCOS development, 5) distinguishing the role of androgen and insulin in the origin of the reproductive and metabolic aspects of PCOS , 6) discoveries in the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian, behavioral and metabolic aspects which lead to an integrative understanding of PCOS etiology, 7) providing evidence for ectopic lipid accumulation (‘lipotoxicity”) as a result of reduced adipocyte differentiation which paved the way for clinical translation, 8) discovering the impact of gestational exposure to BPA in a precocial large animal as in humans, and 9) establishing the Michigan Mother Infant Pairs (MMIP) cohort and defining the negative impact of EDC exposure on the maternal and fetal milieu. Recognized globally for her scientific contributions, her expertise has led to multiple collaborations across the world.

Dr. Padmanabhan has been an active member of the SSR since 1990, serving on multiple committees (Animal Care, Program, Awards, Publication and Public Affairs Committees ) and as an editorial board member of Biology of Reproduction. She has served on over 50 NIH study sections (some as Chair) and center grants. She is currently review co-editor
for Reproduction, associate editor of Toxics and Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology and editorial board member of several others.

She was awarded the James J Ireland Lectureship for distinguished accomplishments using farm animal models to study reproductive biology in 2022 and the Ricardo Azziz Distinguished Research Award from AE-POCS Society in 2022. Her legacy continues in over 70 undergraduates, 25 postdoctoral and clinical fellows, and students who she supervised and mentored. With their continuing achievements in academics and industry, her trainees make her proud.

Humphrey Hung-Chang Yao, PhD

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


Dr. Humphrey Hung-Chang Yao is the Senior Principal Investigator of Reproductive Developmental Biology Group at National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a branch institute of NIH in the U.S.A. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Department of Life Sciences in Fu-Jen University in Taiwan in 1989. He came to the US in 1993 for graduate school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received his Ph.D. in reproductive biology in 1999 under the guidance of Dr. Janice Bahr. He completed a postdoctoral training with Dr. Blanche Capel at Duke University Medical Center in 2002. Dr. Yao started his independent faculty position in the Department of Comparative Biosciences at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2003, and was promoted to tenured Associate Professor in 2009. In 2010, Dr. Yao was recruited to NIEHS/NIH as the Principal Investigator to lead the Reproductive Developmental Biology Group, and was promoted to Senior Investigator in 2018.

Dr. Yao’s research effort is to understand the basic mechanisms of reproductive organ formation, and apply the knowledge to investigate the impacts of genetic mutations and environmental stressors on fetal reproductive development and fertility in adulthood. Dr. Yao has published more than 70 peer-reviewed research articles and reviews in Science, Nature Communications, Genes & Development, PNAS, Development, Biology of Reproduction and others. He was invited to speak as keynote, plenary, or seminar speaker at more than 150 international/national conferences and local seminar series. Dr. Yao’s research accomplishment is well recognized by the scientific community, as evident by the awards he received (March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award, Levine Junior Faculty Research Award, Pfizer Research Excellence Award, Kruger Research Award, and Young Andrologist Award from American Society of Andrology). Most notably, Dr. Yao was the recipient of Trainee Research Award (1999), New Investigator Award (2008), and the Research Award (2019) from the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR). Dr. Yao also received NIEHS Mentor of the Year Award, NIEHS Director’s Merit Award, and NIH Director Award for his exemplary scientific discovery and dedication to trainee mentoring. Dr. Yao’s trainees presented at SSR annual meetings every year. Four of his trainees were winners of the Trainee Research Award, 11 of his trainees were the finalists, and 47 of them received various travel awards to attend the SSR annual meetings.

Starting his research career as a SSR trainee member (1994-99), Dr. Yao now is an active, regular member of the Society for more than 20 years (2002-present). He was elected as SSR Board Director, and served as chair and member of various SSR committees. Among 12 committees in the Society, Dr. Yao has served on 6 of them (Awards, Membership, Program, Public Affairs, Publication, and Trainee Affairs). He was the chair for the Nominating Committee, Public Affairs Committee, the advisor of the Trainee Affairs committee, SSR advisor to the FASEB Board of the Directors, and the Editor for the Society Newsletter. He was the Associate Editor and Board of Reviewing Editors for Biology of Reproduction.

Mary Zelinski, PhD

Oregon Health & Science University


Dr. Zelinski is Professor in the Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences, Oregon National Primate Research Center, and the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Oregon Health & Science University. She received her training in reproductive biology from two distinguished SSR members, earning her Ph.D. in Animal Science with Fredrick Stormshak, Oregon State University, recipient of the SSR Emeritus Award, and conducting her postdoctoral training with Richard Stouffer, Oregon National Primate Research Center, recipient of the SSR Mentor Award and former SSR President.

In addition to early studies in domestic animals, Dr. Zelinski’s research over the past 3 decades encompassed establishing the rhesus macaque as a model for infertility and contraceptive research, centered on understanding the basic mechanisms underlying the development and function of primate ovarian follicles. She participated in pioneering studies to develop assisted reproductive technologies in macaques, novel female and male contraceptives and options for female fertility preservation. Through collaborative efforts within the Oncofertility Consortium and with her talented colleagues at the Primate Center, her recent achievements include: identifying a ferto-protective agent for the ovary against cancer therapies; developing vitrification for cryopreservation of ovarian cortical tissue with subsequent auto-transplantation to restore production of ovarian steroids, mature oocytes and embryos; advancing in vitro maturation of primate follicles in 3-dimensional culture to produce mature oocytes; and investigating potential interventions for ovarian aging.

Her research has been funded by the NIH, NSF and Global Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality. She was a standing member of NIH CMIR and ICER study sections, and served on P01, CDRC, NCTRI, SBIR and NICHD Loan Repayment review panels, was USDA Panel Manager for Grants in Reproductive Sciences, and has reviewed numerous international grants. She has mentored undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral and reproductive endocrine fellows, and has hosted numerous scientists from around the world in her laboratory.

The importance of her basic research to women’s reproductive health has been recognized with awards from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, including four General/Scientific Program Prize Papers, and awards from the Fertility Special Interest Group, and International Society for Fertility Preservation. SSR is her ‘home society’ where she began as a graduate student and continues to be an active member for over 40 years. Dr. Zelinski has been Secretary to the Board (2001-2004), a member of the Board of Directors (2005-2007), chaired the Program Committee (2012), advised the Trainee Affairs Committee (2008-2010), and was a member of the Animal Care, Annual Meeting Advisory, Clinical Outreach, Future Meetings, Local Arrangements, Minority Affairs, Nominating, Program, and Strategic Planning Committees. She received the SSR Distinguished Service Award in 2014. She served on the Editorial Board of Biology of Reproduction (1982-1986, 2002-2004) and is currently honored to be a co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal (2021-2025). She is a passionate advocate for STEM education and has conducted hands-on labs experiences with local high school and middle school students and teachers, as well as organized activities for SSR Outreach, National Science Teachers Association, National Association of Biology Teachers and Murdock Trust Partners in Science meetings.

Past Fellows

2023 Distinguished Fellows

Francesco DeMayo, PhD

Dr. Francesco J DeMayo is Senior Principal Investigator and Chief of the Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory (RDBL), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Research (NIEHS) Triangle Park, North Carolina. After completing his undergraduate training from Cornell University, he received his MS and PhD degrees in Physiology from Michigan State University, East Lansing MI.

He then moved to Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, where he conducted his postdoctoral research in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, at a time when transgenic mouse technology was rapidly emerging as the new frontier in developmental biology, cancer biology and physiology. Here, he became an Assistant Professor and subsequently rose to the Full Professor rank in 2002. While at Baylor College of Medicine, he was honored with the Gordon Cain Professorship in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology )2006-2014)Dan L. Duncan Endowed Professorship at the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center (2011-2014), and The Cullen-Duncan-McAshan Endowed Chair in Cancer Research (2014-2015). In 2015, he moved to the NIEHS as Senior Principal Investigator and Deputy Chief of the RDBL branch and became the Chief of the RDBL branch in 2017. He served as the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) Board Member (2012-2013) and President (2020-2021).

Dr. DeMayo and his colleagues continue to conduct mechanistic research identifying Progesterone Receptor signaling pathways in vivo in the mouse and in vitro using primary human endometrial stroma cells and uterine epithelial organoids. Combining the gene ablation/knockdown approach and transcriptomic approaches his laboratory has elucidated the role of PR-mediated signaling in uterine receptivity, early pregnancy and in the regulation of myometrial contractility during parturition. He has exploited spatial transcriptomics to establish and atlas of the uterine microenvironment at pregnancy day 7.5. Overall, he has published more than 350 peer-reviewed publications. Besides these, he has published many authoritative reviews and chapters in text books that are extensively cited.

Dr. DeMayo mentored numerous undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral fellows and served as a member on PhD thesis committees of several students. He served on many NIH and international grant review panels and chaired some of these panels. He served on editorial boards of many journals. He was the Associate Editor of Molecular Endocrinology (2008-2013) and co-Editor-in-Chief of Biology of Reproduction (2013-2017). He delivered more than 150 invited seminars all over the world and has organized and/or Chaired many meetings/symposia. In collaboration with Dr John McCarrey the Mammalian Reproduction Gordon Research Conference was established. Until he moved to NIEHS, Dr. DeMayo’s research was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Patricia Morris, PhD

I am a Senior Scientist at Chromocell Biopharma and guest Investigator in the Laboratory of RNA Molecular Biology, Rockefeller University, NY. Formerly, I was Executive Director, R&D, Reproductive Health (RH), and Senior Scientist (Professor), Population Council. I am an Associate Editor and Series Editor for a collection of expert reviews on Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health in FASEB Journal.

My background is in Pharmacology and Physiology, with my doctorate from the New York University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and the Abby Mauze Rockefeller postdoctoral fellowship in Endocrinology, Cornell University Medical College. Following my first appointment as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Fairleigh Dickinson School of Dentistry, I have spent my scientific research career as the Principal Investigator and Head of the Laboratory of Mechanisms in Reproductive Health (RH), Population Council. I served as Co-Director for two NICHD P50/U54 Specialized Centers in male infertility and female contraception, respectively. My R&D program in male and female reproduction received continuous independent NIH funding for 30+ years.

My research focuses on understanding molecular regulatory mechanisms in (in)fertility, contraceptive development, sexual and reproductive health. My translational research seeks to understand signaling mechanisms underlying transcriptional and translational control of spermatogenesis, growth factor and cytokine paracrine regulation of germ cell development, and testicular and oocyte modifications mediated by tyrosine kinases, JAK-STAT and SUMO pathways.

I have been honored to serve as both the Council’s Director of RH Fellowship Programs and as a long-standing mentor for clinical and basic postdoctoral and early career researchers, including physician-scientists, biomedical and veterinary fellows. Together with an expert lab and core facility staff, several dozens of undergraduates from historically underrepresented communities and fellows from developing countries were mentored and provided with a reproductive research training.

I have a long record of service to SSR and reproductive community writ large. I am a career-long SSR member, participating in annual meetings, including on several trainee panels and twice as Chair of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and a member (2010-present). From 2010-19, I represented SSR on the Board of Directors for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Continuing this service, I’ve been elected to several FASEB’s leadership positions: Executive, DEI, and PAC Committees, and as VP-Science Policy and President.

As SSR’s rep, I have been proactive on FASEB’s initiatives for its 28-member scientific societies in Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion as well as leading a new One Health initiative. I recently convened two virtual conferences on climate change, water and soil quality and health, and a panel with bio-geoscientists on EDCs and ecosystem health.

In service to the community, I served as a consultant with Gates Foundation and WHO to landscape priorities to advance innovations in family planning. I served as a member of two standing NIH scientific review panels, including Chair, Reproduction, Andrology and Gynecology and as Chair on several NIH panels for Specialized Centers of Reproduction. My peer review service includes 120+ panels.

I am a senior scientific advisor to a non-profit developing an innovative cure for AIDs.

Michael Soares, PhD

Dr. Soares received his undergraduate training at California State University, Chico where he received a B.A. degree in Psychology in 1976 and was engaged in research with William Kalberer and Michael J. Erpino. In 1981, Dr. Soares completed his Ph.D. degree in Reproductive Biology at the University of Hawaii under the guidance of Joan C. Hoffmann and a supportive mentoring environment, including Vincent J. DeFeo, Walter K. Morishige, and Ryuzo Yanagimachi. Dr. Soares received postdoctoral training at the University of California, Santa Cruz with Frank Talamantes (1981-1983) and at Baylor College of Medicine with Stanley R. Glasser (1983-1984). Dr. Soares was recruited by Gilbert S. Greenwald to the faculty at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in 1984. He is currently a University Distinguished Professor with appointments in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology and serves as Director of the Institute for Reproductive and Developmental Sciences at KUMC and Director of Perinatal Research at Children’s Mercy Research Institute-Kansas City. Dr. Soares has directly supervised the training of twelve graduate students, forty-seven postdoctoral fellows, and five maternal-fetal medicine fellows, and he has mentored seven junior faculty. Dr. Soares’ research has been continuously supported by the NIH since 1986 and has produced 260 peer-reviewed reports, three edited books, and two monographs.

Dr. Soares’ Laboratory investigates specialized survival strategies used by the embryo as it grows within the uterus. Central to the embryo’s survival is the formation of the placenta. This organ gains access to the maternal blood supply and facilitates the delivery of nutrients to the fetus. Dr. Soares’ Laboratory studies how early stem cells develop into the placenta. They have established innovative in vitro and in vivo model systems for investigating conserved mechanisms regulating trophoblast cell differentiation and placental development. Through their efforts we have learned that the placenta develops in response to cues present in the maternal environment; and obstetrical complications, such as preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, and pre-term birth result when the embryo is not successful in its adaptations to the maternal environment. Dr. Soares’ Laboratory’s seminal research contributions to the reproductive sciences have been recognized by the University of Kansas, the International Federation of Placental Associations, and the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) with prestigious research awards.

Dr. Soares joined the SSR as a graduate student 1980 and attended his first SSR meeting that year at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In subsequent years, Dr. Soares and his research group have been active participants at annual SSR meetings. Dr. Soares served as a member of the Biology of Reproduction Editorial Board (1990-1995) and a member of its Board of Reviewing Editors (2005-2013). He served on the Annual Meeting Program Committee several times (1996-2002; 2005-2006, 2017-2018, 2023-2024), the Publication Committee (2001-2002), the Strategic Planning Subcommittee (2003), and the Nominating Committee (2005-2006, 2010- 2012, chair, 2011-2012). In 2013, Dr. Soares was elected as a Director of the SSR Board (2013-2016). Dr. Soares continues to be a strong advocate of the SSR.

Monika Ward, PhD

Dr. Ward is a Professor at the Institute for Biogenesis Research (IBR), John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at the University of Hawaii. She received M.S and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Poznan, Poland. In 1999 she was recruited to join Ryuzo Yanagimachi (Yana) in the IBR as a post-doctoral fellow. She established her independent laboratory in the IBR in 2003 and rose through the ranks obtaining a professor position in 2015.

Dr. Ward has been working in the field of reproductive and developmental biology and genetics of male infertility for over 20 years. Her research focus is on spermatogenesis, male fertility/infertility, and assisted reproduction. In recent years her primary interest has been on the genetic aspects of spermatogenesis, and particularly on the role on Y chromosome encoded genes in spermatogenesis and sperm function. The findings from her laboratory highlighted the roles of mouse Y genes in meiotic progression, post-meiotic chromatin remodeling, and sperm formation. Her group also identified the minimum Y chromosome complement necessary for successful assisted reproduction and has shown that the function of these ‘minimal’ genes can be replaced by genetic manipulation of genes encoded on other chromosomes. Her research program is funded by grants from National Institute of Health and Hawaii Community Foundation.

Dr. Ward is an active member of several international societies, including the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), the American Society of Andrology (ASA) and the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB), and has held committee positions within these societies. She has been a standing member on the NIH CMIR study section, an ad hoc member of other NIH and international agencies grant review panels and served on the Editorial Board of Andrology. She successfully organized or co-organized scientific conferences, including Gordon Research Conference on Germinal Stem Cell Biology (2017 and 2019) and International Symposium on the Biology of Vertebrate Sex Determination (2018, 2021 and 2023). At the University of Hawaii Dr. Ward is a chair of the Developmental and Reproductive Biology graduate program, one of the few graduate programs within the USA that offer MS and PhD degrees in reproductive biology and provide students with theory and hands-on training in this field. She is involved in teaching and training undergraduate and graduate students as well as post-doctoral fellows and Junior Faculty.

The SSR is Dr. Ward’s ‘home society’ and it played a vital role in her career development. She has been an active member of SSR since 2001, is a regular attendee at the annual meetings, and has served multiple times as an abstract reviewer, session chair, and session organizer. She was a member of a local arrangement committee for the SSR 2008 annual meeting and a member of Program Committee (2010-2013). She was on the SSR Board of Directors (2017-2020). At present, she serves as an Associate Editor for Biology of Reproduction journal, a member of SSR Virtual Education Committee, and a Co-Chair of SSR 2024 Program Committee.

Wei Yan, MD, PhD

Dr. Wei Yan is Senior Investigator at The Lindquist Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He received his M.D. from China Medical University and Ph.D. from University of Turku in Finland. After post-doc training at Baylor College of Medicine, he started his independent research as an Assistant Professor at University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) in 2004. In the subsequent sixteen years at UNR Med, he moved up the ranks and became a full professor in 2013. In 2016, he was named the UNR Foundation Professor, the highest honor the University bestows upon its faculty.

Dr. Yan’s research interests lie in genetic and epigenetic control of fertility and contributions of the gametic epigenome to fertilization, development and adulthood health. Dr. Yan pioneered the development of the germ cell small noncoding RNA field, added new knowledge to the molecular regulation of fertility, especially in the areas of sperm assembly during late spermiogenesis and physiological functions of motile cilia in reproductive tracts, and promoted the translation of basic research findings into non-hormonal contraceptive development. He was also among people who developed and tested the hypothesis that gametic small RNAs mediate epigenetic inheritance. Dr. Yan has published more than 150 papers in impactful journals. He received numerous academic awards, including the 2009 Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) Young Investigator Award, the 2012 American Society of Andrology (ASA) Young Andrologist Award, the 2013 Nevada Healthcare Hero Award for Research and Technology, the 2017 University of Nevada, Reno Outstanding Researcher Award, the 2018 SSR Research Award and the 2020 Nevada System of Higher Education Regents’ Research Award (mid-career). He was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2017.

Dr. Yan has mentored six junior faculty members and trained twenty post-docs and thirty-one graduate students so far. He served on the SSR Program Committee (2007, 2014, and 2016), the SSR Awards Committee (2015-2018), the Board of Reviewing Editors of Biology of Reproduction (BOR) (2009-2013), and as Associate Editor (2013-2017) and co-Editor-in-Chief of BOR (2017-2021). He is currently serving on the ASA Board of Directors (2022-2025) and the Executive Committee of the North America Testis Workshop (NATW). He co-chaired the 2019 ASA annual meeting and the 2022 XXVI NATW.

2022 Distinguished Fellows

Sudhansu K. Dey, PhD

SK Dey obtained his PhD degree from the University of Calcutta, India, in 1972 in Reproductive Biology.  He obtained postdoctoral training at the Univ of Kansas Medical Center and stayed there for almost 30 years. He then moved to Vanderbilt University and is now at the Cincinnati Children’s. He has served and has been the scientific community at many capacities…. as reviewers on NIH and other grants, served in journal editorial boards and still serves as an advisory board member of Journals. SK Dey has been awarded numerous national and international awards and accolades. His group has published more than 350 articles in impactful journals.

SK Dey’s lab is dedicated to exploring the molecular landscape of preimplantation and implantation biology to address emerging and future challenges in the field. Rapid population growth and infertility are two significant global issues that concern the health of children and women. These issues are profoundly influenced by the events of preimplantation embryo development and implantation. Embryo implantation involves an intricate discourse between the embryo and uterus and serves as a gateway to further embryonic development. Synchronizing embryonic development to the blastocyst stage with uterine differentiation to the receptive state is crucial to successful implantation and positive pregnancy outcomes. This process is a complex interplay of numerous signaling molecules and hierarchical instructions to coordinate the embryo-uterine dialogue, which investigators are still working to unfold. Dey’s group utilized genetically engineered mouse models to explore the role of the cytokine, growth factors, transcription factors, homeobox, and morphogen signaling axis in embryo-uterine interactions during implantation. A better understanding of periimplantation biology could potentially alleviate female infertility and develop novel contraceptives. His lab discovered that cooperative interactions among preimplantation embryos promote their own growth via paracrine interactions by growth factors secreted by them. This study exemplified that embryos cultured in groups in a small volume of medium have superior growth than those cultured singularly. Many human IVF programs have adopted this concept to improve embryo growth.

Dey’s group discovered that uterine cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is critical to ovulation, fertilization and implantation, and COX-2 derived prostaglandins (PG) mediate embryo implantation via PG receptors and peroxisome proliferator activated (PPAR) receptors. These studies have profound impact on female fertility and have raised concerns regarding chronic consumption of NSAIDS or COX-2 inhibitors by women during their reproductive life. They discovered that G-protein coupled cannabinoid receptor CB1 and CB2 and their endogenous ligand anandamide are critical to embryo implantation. This study shows that both amplification and silencing of cannabinoid/endocannabinoid signaling adversely affects various aspects of early pregnancy. These observations led to studies in humans showing that higher endocannabinoid levels cause spontaneous abortion in women. They also showed that aberrant cannabinoid/endocannabinoid signaling impairs oviductal embryo transport, which has clinical relevance to ectopic pregnancy in women.  Later, Dey lab have shown that a short delay in timing of implantation or defective implantation creates an adverse ripple-effect throughout the course of pregnancy, leading to defective feto-placental development and poor pregnancy outcome. This constitutes a new concept that embryo-uterine interaction prior to and during implantation set up the subsequent developmental programming. This is consistent with clinical data showing that implantation beyond the normal window of receptivity leads to pregnancy losses in women. His lab was the first to show that COX-1 and COX-2 are major triggers for reproductive cancers, and that COX-1 is the primary factor in ovarian cancer, which argued against the belief that COX-2 was the main cause. This work was followed by a search for the cause of uterine cancer using mouse models. They found that COX-2 and mTORC1 signaling promote endometrial cancer. Combination therapies targeting these pathways showed success in blocking the progression of cancer in mice and, as these pathways are conserved in humans, leads us to possible therapies for human women.

Moira K. O’Bryan, PhD

Dr O’Bryan graduated from The University of Melbourne in 1994 with a BSc(hon) then PhD in the area of immunology and reproductive biology. Subsequently, she was awarded an Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellowship to work at The Population Council in New York in the field of contraceptive development. She returned to Australia in 1996 as a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Peter Doherty Fellowship to work at Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development (now the Hudson Institute), Monash University, where she established a lab focused on male fertility. In 2009 she moved to the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at Monash University as Deputy Head of Department. She was appointed Program Lead (Development and Stem Cells) within the Monash Biomedical Discovery Institute in 2015, and Deputy Director in 2016. In 2017 she assumed the role of the Head of the School of Biological Sciences within the Faculty of Science at Monash University, and in 2020 she was appointed Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science at The University of Melbourne. The focus of Dr O’Bryan’s research encompasses sperm development and function, genetic causes of human infertility, and the implications for ‘reproductive’ proteins on health broadly. She directs a multidisciplinary and highly collaborative research program covering fundamental research, and clinical medicine. In her role as Dean, she directs a large faculty spanning physics, chemistry, life and ecological sciences, mathematics, geosciences and human geography.

Dr O’Bryan has received research-based fellowships and awards from numerous agencies including the NHMRC, the Australian Academy of Science, the Fertility Society of Australia, the Endocrine Society of Australia, and the Society for Reproductive Biology (SRB). She was the 2008 American Society of Andrology (ASA) “Young Andrologist of the Year”, the 2015 Anne McLaren Memorial Lecturer (Society for Reproduction and Fertility, UK) and the 2015 SRB President’s Lecturer. In 2011 she was inducted as an SRB Fellow.

She is an active member of several professional societies and has held committee positions within the SRB, the ASA, and the International Society of Andrology. Within SSR she has been a member of the nominations committee (2018-9), a member of the future meetings committee (2013-6) and a co-chair of the program organising committee (with Bo Rueda, 2018 meeting). She was a member of the ‘Biology of Reproduction’ board of reviewers between 2004-12. She has additionally served on the editorial board of journals including, Molecular Human Reproduction, Fertility and Sterility, PLoS Genetics and eLife. Between 2108-20 she was the President of SSR’s sister society, the Society for Reproductive Biology and a member of the World Congress of Reproductive Biology advisory committee.

In addition to roles related to reproductive biology and education, Dr O’Bryan has played a notable part in the promotion of sciences broadly including via positions as a national director of The Australian Society for Medical Research (2003-5), and as a member (and chair) of the Australian Academy of Science National Committee for Cell and Developmental Biology (2013-7). She is a past member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts (2017-20) and has served in numerous roles within the NHMRC. She has made significant contributions to the infrastructure of Australian research through the establishment of The Australian Phenome Bank and the Australian Centre for Vertebrate Mutation Detection, the Monash Male Infertility Repository and the Australian Phenomics Network.

Joy L. Pate, PhD

Dr. Joy Pate is a Professor and the C. Lee Rumberger and Family Chair in Agricultural Sciences in the Department of Animal Sciences of Penn State University, as well as the Director of the Center for Reproductive Biology and Health. She received her Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire and was appointed as Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University in 1983, where she was promoted to Professor and served a term as Associate Chair of the Department of Animal Sciences. She joined Penn State University in 2008. Her research focuses on the cellular mechanisms that regulate the lifespan of the corpus luteum (CL). Her work has provided insight into cholesterol utilization for steroidogenesis, the roles of endogenous prostaglandin production in luteal function, and the mechanisms by which exogenous prostaglandin results in the demise of the CL. Current research emphases are to understand functional programming of luteal-resident immune cells to regulate tissue homeostasis, and the role of microRNA in regulation of differentiation and rescue of the corpus luteum during early pregnancy.

Dr. Pate has been very active in The Society for the Study of Reproduction, serving as Program Chair, Director, Secretary, President and on numerous committees, and received the Distinguished Service Award from SSR in 2011and the Trainee Mentor Award in 2020. She co-chaired the Organizing Committee of the Inaugural World Congress on Reproductive Biology held in Hawaii in 2008 and was a member of the Organizing Committee of the International Ruminant Reproduction Symposium. Dr. Pate has been involved in undergraduate and graduate teaching throughout her career, including development of study abroad programs to Australia and the Azores, for which she has survived trips with up to 20 undergraduate students for 6 weeks at a time! She enjoys conveying the excitement and mysteries of science to students. 

Sarah A. Robertson, PhD

Professor Sarah Robertson is Professor of Reproductive Immunology at the Robinson Research Institute and School of Biomedicine, University of Adelaide. She received her PhD from the University of Adelaide in 1993 and then held NHMRC Research Fellowships from 1996-2013, with terms at The University of Alberta, Edmonton and Gothenburg University, Sweden. In 2013 she was appointed Director of the Robinson Research Institute at The University of Adelaide and held that post until 2021 when she was awarded a NHMRC Investigator Fellowship to return to full-time research. 

Her research focus is the immune response to conception and pregnancy, and consequences for reproductive success and offspring health. Her discoveries have formed the basis for a new understanding of the origins of maternal immune tolerance at conception. She has identified specific cytokines and immune cells that regulate embryo implantation and fetal development. Notably, she demonstrated that male seminal fluid acts to induce adaptations in the female immune response that can promote or impair receptivity to implantation and affect placental development and fetal growth. Her work shows that the immune system channels environmental signals from both female and male parents to modulate reproductive investment and shape offspring phenotype. These findings are providing novel insights into early life origins of health and informing clinical practise in reproductive medicine.

Dr. Robertson has published more than 220 peer-reviewed papers and is an inventor on 4 patent families, 2 of which have progressed to commercial products. She has trained more than 35 graduate students and 20 postdoctoral fellows and many of her trainees have established their own successful laboratories in reproductive biology.  She has served on several NHMRC committees and grant review panels, including the NHMRC Embryo Research Licencing Committee (2022- ), and Council and Research Committee of the NHMRC (2003-2006). She was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Reproductive Immunology (2009-2013) and has held committee and leaderships positions in the Society for the Study of Reproduction, the International Society for Immunology of Reproduction, the International Union of Immunological Societies, and Society for Reproductive Biology. She is grateful for continuous funding support from the NHMRC and the Australian Research Council over her career. Dr Robertson was elected to Fellowship of the Society for Reproductive Biology in 2011, to the Australian Academy for Health and Medical Sciences in 2014, and to The Australian Academy of Science in 2015.

Barbara C. Vanderhyden, PhD

Barbara Vanderhyden is the inaugural Corinne Boyer Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research, a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa, and a Senior Scientist in the Cancer Therapeutics Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Her history in the SSR is founded on training with two notable SSR members. She earned her Ph.D. in Reproductive Physiology with David Armstrong from the University of Western Ontario, and indulged her fascination for oocyte-granulosa cell interactions during her postdoctoral work with John Eppig at The Jackson Laboratory.

Dr. Vanderhyden’s research has explored oocyte-granulosa cell interactions, the risks and processes associated with tumors arising from ovarian and oviductal epithelial cells, the generation and characterization of mouse models with infertility or ovarian cancer, and the discovery and testing of novel cancer therapeutics. Her achievements include co-development of a method for oocytectomy, and the generation of the first transgenic model of epithelial ovarian cancer, more refined, inducible models, and a model for a rare subtype of ovarian cancer. These have been used to explore the mechanisms of tumor initiation and to test new strategies for cancer prevention and treatment. Her 27-year history of managing an ovarian cancer biobank enabled detailed analysis of the expression and function of various therapeutic targets leading to several clinical trials. Her research is currently funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Science and Engineering Research Council, the Cancer Research Society and Ovarian Cancer Canada.

Dr. Vanderhyden has been President of the SSR (2011-2012), a member of the Board of Directors (2005-2008), and a recipient of the SSR Trainee Mentoring Award (2019). She is an elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (2020), received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award (2014), was selected as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women (2007) and was one of the Top 50 Champions of Change by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (2010), the last one reflecting her commitment to effective science communication. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Ovarian Cancer Canada and chairs the OvCAN Governing Council which oversees a national (Canadian) strategic research plan to advance novel treatments for ovarian cancer. Dr. Vanderhyden has received numerous awards for research excellence, promoting science education, and her mentorship activities.

2021 Distinguished Fellows

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