About Our Research
We study early mammalian developmental biology using mice as an experimental system. In particular, we investigate molecular mechanisms of male and female gametogenesis, monospermic fertilization, the transition from egg to early embryo as well as embryo transit through the female reproductive tract.
Our investigations begin with the preparation of the sperm and egg in the testis and ovary, respectively, and include the molecular biology of gamete recognition that results in taxon-specific fertilization, the post-fertilization block to polyspermy, and the activation of the embryonic genome that ensures successful onset of mammalian development.
Our goals are to characterize the molecular basis of male and female gametogenesis, successful fertilization, the transition from terminally differentiated, transcriptionally quiescent gametes to the totipotent cells of the early embryo and the mechanisms by which embryos pass through the female reproductive tract prior to implantation on the wall of the uterus.
These investigations, conducted primarily in mice, have translational implications in human reproductive medicine by providing patients in their childbearing years with better reproductive choices. More broadly, better molecular understanding of the transition from terminally differentiated gametes to the totipotency of early embryonic cells may suggest strategies for reprograming somatic cells into pluripotent cells with therapeutic potential in a wide variety of human diseases.