Reproductive and Developmental
Sciences Program

The past two decades have ushered in landmark discoveries in the reproductive and developmental sciences of significant potential impact to human health and animal agriculture, including advancements in assisted reproductive technologies and derivation of human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells and the transition of regenerative medicine from the realm of theory to application. Michigan State University has a long history of excellence in the reproductive and developmental sciences, and is unique in having both cutting-edge research in the reproductive and developmental sciences across a wide range of animal models, clinical entities and in population-based human reproductive outcomes all on a single campus. The Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Program  (RDSP) is composed of a strong and interactive group of faculty from the College of Human Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources with diverse expertise and research interests who are engaged in fundamental and translational research geared towards advancements in regenerative medicine.

Vision: To be the leading Center of Excellence in the Reproductive and Developmental Sciences and enhance research partnerships with other research universities and international entities and uphold the traditions of an exceptional land grant institution.

Mission: The overall goal of the Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Program at Michigan State University is to leverage and expand ongoing collaborations between faculty working in animal science, human medicine, veterinary medicine, genetics, and regenerative medicine and to further formalize this unique trans disciplinary focus in a manner that will enhance the rate of scientific discovery and the quality of graduate and postdoctoral training.


Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Training Program




keith latham


Mice have been and will continue to be good base models for human medicinal advances. However, their size and some of their physiological differences leave them lacking in important areas of human medicine, including neurological and reproductive research.

In a study led by Michigan State University, scientists have shown that gene editing using CRISPR/Cas9 technology can be quite effective in rhesus monkey embryos ­– the first time this has been demonstrated in the U.S.

The results, published in the current issue of Human Molecular Genetics, open the door for pursuing gene editing in nonhuman primates as models for new therapies, including pharmacological, gene- and stem cell-based therapies, said Keith Latham, MSU animal science professor and lead author of the study.


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Trainee Awards

Sean Nguyen (PhD student, Dr. Petroff)

  • Environmental Integrative Toxicological Sciences Travel Fellowship, Michigan State University Institute for Integrative Toxicology

Jacob Greenberg (Undergraduate Student, Dr. Petroff)

  • First place, Microbiology, Immunology & Infectious Disease Oral presentation, University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, MSU
  • William Sayer Scholarship, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, MSU
  • College of Natural Science Undergraduate Research Support Scholarship Awarded

Alysha Yoe (Undergraduate Student, Dr. Veiga Lopez)

  • 2017 Undergraduate Research Award (First Place), Michigan Society of Toxicology

Ranu Sinniah(Y1 Medical Student, Dr. Racicot)

  • Keenan Joseph Marshall Neurology Research Scholarship
  • College of Human Medicine, Office of Research 

MSU researchers study in vitro fertilization using cows

RDSP Candidate - Hanne Hoffmann, PhD

RDSP Candidate 

Hanne Hoffmann, PhD 

Post Doctorate 

University of California, San Diego 

Department of Reproductive Medicine 

The Homeodomain Protein VAX1 is Required for Fertility by Regulating GnRH Neuron Maturation and Circadian Rhythms ” 

During the last century our society has changed dramatically, and today more than 20% of the population works odd hours, travels across time zones, and has disrupted sleep patterns. These are all factors affecting circadian rhythms and that lead to medical illnesses including diabetes, decreased cognitive capacity, and impaired fertility. The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the master pacemaker of the body, orchestrates the reproductive axis by coordinating gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neuron activity with peripheral tissues and light cycles. We here identify the homeoprotein Ventral Anterior Homeobox 1 (VAX1) to be required for both SCN and GnRH neuron development, and conditional deletion of Vax1 in either of these cell populations compromises fertility and hormone release. Thus, VAX1 has a dual role in fertility maintenance, it is required for GnRH expression, and is involved in circadian rhythm generation in the SCN, where its absence leads to abnormal SCN output, and impaired female fertility. In conclusion, Vax1 is a novel transcription factor in fertility maintenance through its role in coordinating hormone release in the reproductive axis. 

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM 

1310 Anthony Hall (Videoconference to 492 Secchia Center) 


RDSP Seminar Series - Aritro Sen, PhD

RDSP Seminar Series 

Aritro Sen, PhD 

Assistant Professor 

University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry 

Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism 

Why your DNA Isn't Your Destiny” 

The prenatal environment is being increasingly recognized as a critical factor in shaping lifelong health and disease outcomes in the offspring. Maternal pathologies, nutritional levels, environmental chemicals, or lifestyle choices/stress change the developmental course of the fetus resulting in lasting harmful outcomes that often end in adult pathologies. This talk will provide insights into the underlying mechanism(s) of steroid-induced epigenetic modulations and its effect on developmental reprogramming. 

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM 

1240 Anthony Hall (Zoom Videoconference to 451 Secchia Center)