Contributions of an animal scientist to understanding the biology of the uterus and pregnancy.
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I developed a passion for reproductive biology when taking a course in Physiology of Reproduction at Louisiana State University while preparing to apply for Veterinary School at Texas A&M University. My career path changed. I entered graduate school, obtained a Ph.D. and have enjoyed an academic career conducting research in uterine biology and pregnancy in animal science departments at the University of Florida and at Texas A&M University. My contributions to science include: (1) identification of molecules secreted by or transported by uterine epithelia into the uterine lumen that are critical to successful establishment and maintenance of pregnancy, (2) discovery of steroids and proteins required for pregnancy-recognition signalling and their mechanisms of action in pigs and ruminants, (3) patterns of fetal-placental development and placental transport of nutrients, (4) identification of links between nutrients and components of histotroph that affect fetal-placental development, (5) characterising aspects of the endocrinology of pregnancy and (6) contributing to efforts to exploit the therapeutic value of interferon tau, particularly for treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Current research focuses on select nutrients in the uterine lumen, specifically amino acids, glucose and fructose, that affect conceptus development, the therapeutic potential for interferon tau, stromal-epithelial cell signalling whereby progesterone and oestrogen act via steroid receptors in uterine stromal cells to stimulate secretion of growth factors (e.g. fibroblast growth factors and hepatocyte growth factor) that regulate uterine epithelial cells and conceptus trophectoderm, and roles of toll-like receptors expressed by uterine epithelia and conceptus trophectoderm in pregnancy.
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