Contributions of an Animal Scientist to Reproductive Biology
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I became interested in biology as an undergraduate in a premedical curriculum but developed a passion for the field of reproductive biology because of a course in physiology of reproduction taken to meet requirements for admission to veterinary school. My career path changed, and I entered graduate school, obtained the Ph.D., and have enjoyed an academic career as a reproductive biologist conducting research in uterine biology and pregnancy in animal science departments at the University of Florida and at Texas A&M University. However, I have never allowed academic boundaries to interfere with research and graduate education as that is contrary to collegiality, the cornerstone of great universities. I consider that my major contributions to science include 1) identification of proteins secreted by cells of the uterine endometrium that are critical to successful establishment and maintenance of pregnancy; 2) discovery of steroids and proteins required for pregnancy recognition signaling and their mechanisms of action in pigs and ruminant species; 3) investigation of fetal-placental development and placental transport of nutrients, including water and electrolytes; 4) identification of linkages between nutrition and fetal-placental development; 5) defining aspects of the endocrinology of pregnancy; and 6) contributing to efforts to exploit the therapeutic value of interferon tau, particularly for treatment of autoimmune diseases. My current studies are focused on the role of select nutrients in the uterine lumen, specifically amino acids and glucose, that affect development and survival of the conceptus and translation of mRNAs and, with colleagues at Seoul National University, gene expression by the avian reproductive tract at key periods postovulation. Another goal is to understand stromal-epithelial cell signaling, whereby progesterone and estrogen act via uterine stromal cells that express receptors for sex steroids to stimulate secretion of growth factors (e.g., fibroblast growth factors and hepatocyte growth factor) that, in turn, regulate functions of uterine epithelial cells and conceptus trophectoderm.
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