My research focuses on mechanisms of regulation of female fertility with emphasis on ovarian function. We pursue our research interests in two modules. In module 1, targeting animal agriculture, we use bovine model to investigate metabolic regulation of ovarian function. In the last ten years we have discovered that metabolic indicators differ significantly between lactating dairy cows and non-lactating counterparts. Our current studies investigate the relationship between ovarian activity and metabolic stress including ketosis. In module 2, focusing fundamental mechanisms applicable to both farm animals and women, we use signaling pathway- and gene-edited mouse models to investigate mechanisms follicular development, ovulation and fertility.
In the last ten years we have discovered novel transcription factors involved in the ERK1/2 intracellular signaling pathways as well as important molecules involved in ovulation including Nr5a2, mTOR (both granulosa-specific knockout models) and Fabp6 (whole-body knockout model). We have also discovered that follicle stimulating hormone modulates histone methylation to regulate gene expression underpinning follicular development. Our current studies focus on the role of histone modifications and transcription factors such as Egr1 in granulosa cell gene expression.
Our research will continue to advance the understanding of molecular mechanisms underpinning normal ovarian functions, including ovulation and steroid hormone production, leading to normal female fertility.