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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

July 2018

DeMayo elected to leadership of Society for the Study of Reproduction

Francesco DeMayo DeMayo said he has been interested in research in reproductive biology since his undergraduate days. “Research in the field of reproduction is important for a society’s health,” he said. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

On May 23, the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) announced the election of Francesco DeMayo, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory (RDBL), as vice president-elect.

DeMayo will begin a four-year rotation through leadership positions at the SSR annual meeting July 10-13 in New Orleans. After one year as vice president-elect, DeMayo will serve a year as vice president, then president, then past president of the society.

A longtime SSR member, DeMayo came to NIEHS in August 2015 to lead the NIEHS Pregnancy and Reproductive Development Group in RDBL. “Environmental impacts on the reproductive system affect not only individuals or their offspring, but may affect the health of future generations,” he said.

“As a leader in the Society for the Study of Reproduction, my goal is to promote scientific exchange, training, and to ensure we have a strong and diverse membership that will allow the field to grow and flourish,” DeMayo added. He emphasized the breadth of the field, noting that it encompasses male and female fertility, reproductive behavior, pregnancy, puberty, and aging.

“The systems used in this field range from in vitro cell models, in vivo model organisms, to domestic animals, and humans,” he said. “SSR exposed me to a collegiate environment where ideas and technologies from these diverse fields are freely exchanged. It has exposed me to collaborations that strengthened my research program.”

Long service to SSR

DeMayo is a longtime member of SSR, which is an international scientific organization that promotes the study of reproductive sciences, to preserve human and animal reproductive health. His past service to the society includes membership on committees and recent tenure as co-editor in chief of the SSR journal Biology of Reproduction.

In 2011, the society presented DeMayo with the SSR Research Award in recognition of his study of how the hormone progesterone regulates uterine function and embryo implantation.

According to Humphrey Yao, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Reproductive Developmental Biology Group, DeMayo pioneered the use of transgenic and knockout mice in the field of reproductive biology. “He transformed the field with the development of state-of-the-art genetic models,” said Yao. “Franco is the leader in the field of uterine biology and nuclear receptor biology.”

NIEHS and SSR mutually benefit

According to DeMayo, his leadership roles at NIEHS and SSR mean that both organizations stand to benefit. “As chief of RDBL, I can help foster the exchange of ideas and technologies, to strengthen the research among society members,” he said.

“My [SSR] leadership will allow me to ensure trainees are given the best foothold in their future scientific careers, by exposing them to training opportunities and help them further develop their research programs.”

Close ties continue

“The contribution and impact of the reproductive biology research at NIEHS has long been recognized by the Society for the Study of Reproduction,” said Yao. In addition to their scientific contributions, institute scientists have served the society in other capacities.

Former SSR presidents include Mitch Eddy, Ph.D., the now-retired head of the NIEHS Gamete Biology Group, and Sally Darney, Ph.D., editor in chief of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which is published by NIEHS.

Darney also served two terms as treasurer of the society. “Dr. DeMayo is well known in SSR for his ground-breaking research, and most recently his service as editor in chief of Biology of Reproduction,” she said. “His election to this office attests to the members’ high esteem for him as a scientist and leader.”

Other institute researchers active in the society include Carmen Williams, M.D., Ph.D., deputy chief of RDBL; Ken Korach, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Receptor Biology Group and former head of RDBL; and Yao.

“Franco’s SSR election further strengthens the leading role of NIEHS reproductive research in the scientific community,” Yao added.

Recent publications:
El Zowalaty AE, Li R, Zheng Y, Lydon JP, DeMayo FJ, Ye X. 2017. Deletion of RhoA in progesterone receptor expressing cells leads to luteal insufficiency and infertility in female mice. Endocrinology 158(7):2168–2178.

Kelleher AM, Peng W, Pru JK, Pru CA, DeMayo FJ, Spencer TE. 2017. Forkhead box a2 (FOXA2) is essential for uterine function and fertility. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 14(6):E1018–E1026.

Peavey MC, Reynolds CL, Szwarc MM, Gibbons WE, Valdes CT, DeMayo FJ, Lydon JP. 2017. Three-dimensional high-frequency ultrasonography for early detection and characterization of embryo implantation site development in the mouse. PLoS One 12(1):e0169312.

Ran H, Kong S, Zhang S, Cheng J, Zhou C, He B, Xin Q, Lydon JP, DeMayo FJ, Feng GS, Xia G, Lu Z, Wang C, Wang H. 2017. Nuclear Shp2 directs normal embryo implantation via facilitating the ERalpha tyrosine phosphorylation by the Src kinase. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114(18):4816–4821.

Wetendorf M, Wu SP, Wang X, Creighton CJ, Wang T, Lanz RB, Blok L, Tsai SY, Tsai MJ, Lydon JP, DeMayo FJ. 2017. Decreased epithelial progesterone receptor A at the window of receptivity is required for preparation of the endometrium for embryo attachment. Biol Reprod 96(2):313–326.

Wu SP, DeMayo FJ. 2017. Progesterone receptor signaling in uterine myometrial physiology and preterm birth. Curr Top Dev Biol 125:171–190.


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