Reproduction and infertility research

Understanding the complex genetic events in healthy reproduction and early development, for insights into fertility problems, birth defects and genetic diversity.

For female cancer patients of reproductive age, radiation and chemotherapy treatments pose a threat to fertility. Assistant Professor Ewelina Bolcun-Filas, Ph.D., is working to preserve these patients’ fertility by harnessing a natural process that prevent DNA damage to oocytes (the cells that develop into eggs).

JAX Professor Robert Braun, Ph.D., studies germline stem cells and how they develop into eggs and sperm. His lab explores how germline stem cells balance self-renewal with differentiation, and how imbalances between the two can lead to problems ranging from tumor development to sterility.

Meiosis is the process by which egg and sperm divide their respective complements of chromosomes in half, providing one set each to the offspring. Defects in meiosis can result in infertility, developmental defects or subsequent embryonic loss. JAX Professor Ken Paigen focuses on how a protein known as PRDM9 reshuffles DNA during meiosis to better understand the complex processes of the very first moments of life in mammals.