Yuan Wang

For a human life to form, a sperm must fertilize an egg. Michigan State University’s Yuan Wang is working to understand how the precursors of eggs and sperm are developed in embryos and what interferes with this process to cause infertility in adults.

"In multicell organisms like humans, one fertilized egg can develop into all cell types with diverse biological functions that make up the body,” says Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Some of these cells become eggs (in female) and sperm (in male). This fascinating process forms a cycle of life and inspires me to understand how this happens."

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mother pregnent belly

One in ten babies is born prematurely in the United States, but a blood test during a routine prenatal visit could reveal if a woman is at risk of a preterm delivery, according to a Michigan State University researcher.

“Preterm births are common,” said Hanne Hoffmann, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “If we know the mother is at risk for a preterm birth, her doctor can monitor her more closely.”

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covid virus

Researchers led by a Michigan State University professor will conduct two studies of whether infection with the COVID-19 virus or vaccination to prevent COVID-19 is affecting the menstrual cycles of women and girls. The studies, funded by the National Institutes of Health, follow anecdotal reports by some women that they had heavier or irregular menstrual cycles after they were infected with the virus or inoculated against it.

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Jenn Watts

The Outstanding Doctoral Student Mentor Award goes to Jennifer Watts in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology.  Ms. Watts’ nomination was supported by faculty, fellow graduate students, and incoming graduate students. She is a valuable colleague and leader to students, peers, faculty and others, and her contributions are wide and deep:  her many contributions to her various communities demonstrate her stated commitment to being the kind of mentor that she wishes she had encountered earlier in her career. As an African American woman in STEM, Jenn has a stated goal of creating a sense of belonging and support and being a leader in this work.  To that end, she has served as a leader and mentor to other students she meets in the AGEP community, to the students she serves in the classroom as a TA, to the students and peers she works alongside in the lab. Her impact is local and international, ranging from MSU’s Undergraduate Mentoring Committee and Girls Math and Science Day to scholarly and research contributions in high-impact journals. With these examples, Jenn demonstrates how to model STEM success in scholarship, teaching, service and mentorship. We are honored to celebrate this impact.  

asgi fazleabas

College of Human Medicine researchers have received a National Institutes of Health grant to study the connection between a gene important for normal cell survival and endometriosis, a painful disease which affects one in 10 women of reproductive age. The disease also has a significant economic impact, estimated at $95 billion annually in the U.S. in lost wages and medical expenses.

The gene called NOTCH1 is “needed for normal reproduction, but when it goes awry it has a significant role in endometriosis,” said Asgi Fazleabas, PhD, a University Distinguished Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.

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Maria Ariadna

2021 Recipient: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This competition encourages Ph.D. candidates in the department to prepare for future employment through mock job applications and interviews. To be eligible for this award PhD students must have passed their comprehensive examinations and advanced to candidacy.Major professor: Asgerally Fazleabas

Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal is a Ph.D. candidate working with Dr. Asgerally Fazleabas. Ariadna’s research is focused on the study of specific hallmarks of endometriosis, particularly on how specific signaling molecules can promote an inflammatory environment, which alters tissue function. Her research has relevance to other diseases, such as endometritis, a major cause of infertility in dairy cattle. In addition to her research, Ariadna is pursuing the Michigan State University Certification in College Teaching. After she completes her graduate program, she would like to pursue her passion of a teaching career in higher education as a University Faculty member.

hoffman photo

Hanne Hoffmann, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and her colleagues in the Hoffmann Lab, study how light regulates our physiology, affects our overall well-being and mood and induces changes in brain function. As winter approaches, Hoffmann answers questions about light and seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

What is SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons. It usually begins with less hours of sunlight in the fall and eases in spring when days gets longer. Interestingly, a small proportion of people do experience SAD in the summer. Due to the seasonality of SAD, it is commonly known as seasonal depression. Although anyone can get SAD, women experience it four times more frequently than men. At this point, it’s unclear why women are more at risk for SAD than men. Since the disorder is caused by changes in day length, the further away from the equator you live, the higher the risk of experiencing it.

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student with msu flag

EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Michigan State University researchers have identified a potential new treatment for an especially painful and invasive form of endometriosis.

University officials say this research focused on a type of endometriosis that occurs in women who have a mutation in a gene called ARID1A, which is linked to the more invasive and painful form of the disease.

A new drug tested in lab experiments appeared to stop the spread of endometriosis. The condition, particularly the kind associated with the ARID1A mutation, can be debilitating for many women, and often leads to infertility.

The MSU team collaborated with Van Andel Institute researchers, providing them with tissue samples for VAI scientists to analyze with a machine called a next-generation sequencer.

For a link at the full study published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, click here.

Gregory Burns

Gregory Burns has been awarded an NIH F32 Post-Doctoral Fellowship by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. His Project is entitled “Regulation and function of Forkhead box C1 in endometriosis”. The project is sponsored by Dr. Asgi Fazleabas and co-sponsored by Dr. Stacey Missmer in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Biology and Dr. Bin Chen in the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development. Dr. Burns is a post-doctoral fellow in the Fazleabas laboratory and the primary focus of his studies is on identifying regulatory pathways that contribute to endometriotic lesion development.