Female fertility and early menopause (oocyte biology)

Man at microscope
Counting ovarian follicles

The ovary contains a finite supply of oocytes (eggs) that represent a precious resource that must be carefully utilized and protected for several decades.

Our laboratory has special expertise in oocyte biology and the mechanisms by which oocytes are utilized and preserved.

Among our major discoveries are the identification of the forkhead transcription factor Foxo3 as the first major suppressor of primordial follicle reawakening, and the identification of the PI3K pathway as the central biochemical pathway regulating oocyte maintenance via Foxo3.

More recently, we have performed rigorous genetic analyses implicating the Kit receptor tyrosine kinase as the key upstream signaling molecule regulating oocyte maintenance via PI3K/Foxo3. Since loss of oocytes is associated with infertility and premature aging, these studies have significant implications for female fertility, the menopause, and aging in general.