2021 Award Recipients

Carl G. Hartmann Award Recipient

Asgi Fazleabas, PhD
University Distinguished Professor and Associate Chair of Research
Michigan State University, USA 

Dr. Fazleabas received his BS degree from California State University, Fresno and his PhD in Reproductive Physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana - Campaign. Following his post - doctoral training in Reproductive Biology/Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida in Gainesville he joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he held the rank of Professor and Director of Women's Health and Reproduction until October 2009. He is currently a University Distinguished Professor and MSU Foundation Professor at Michigan State University and Associate Chair of Research in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology and Director of the Center for Women's Health Research and Co-Director of the Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Program at Michigan State University.

Dr. Fazleabas has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health in the USA since 1986 for studies using the baboon as a model for reproductive biology research. The work in his laboratory has significant translational relevance related to improved pregnancy outcomes in infertile women as well as understanding the etiology and the pathophysiology associated with the development of endometriosis. A significant area of his research emphasis has been to study the early events associated with maternal-fetal interactions during the establishment of pregnancy and the mechanisms by which these interactions are affected in women and non-human primates with endometriosis. His laboratory was the first to demonstrate that chorionic gonadotropin acts directly on the uterus in vivo and using this “simulated pregnancy model” went on to demonstrate that the early luteotrophic signal from the primate embryo is critical for initiating the decidualization response and remodeling the luminal epithelium to enhance trophoblast invasion. The baboon model of endometriosis that has been extensively used in laboratory has led to fundamental discoveries on the mechanisms by which the presence of endometriotic lesions impact uterine receptivity as well as understanding the early cellular and molecular events that contribute to lesion development and the pathophysiology of disease progression.

Amongst his many honors, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a previous recipient of the Research Award and the Distinguished Service Award from SSR.


SSR Jansen Distinguished Leadership and Service Award Recipient

Bernard Robaire, PhD
Professor
McGill University, Canada

Bernard Robaire received his B.A from UCLA and his Ph.D. from McGill University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, he returned to McGill to take up a joint appointment in the Departments of Pharmacology & Therapeutics and of Obstetrics & Gynaecology where he has remained and is currently a James McGill Professor.  Dr. Robaire’s research interests focus on aging of the male reproductive system, male-mediated reproductive toxicology, mechanisms of androgen actions, and the structure, function, and regulation of the epididymis. This research activity has resulted in over 200 journal articles, 70 book chapters, and editing/co-editing of 10 books. He conceived and has been co-Editor of both editions of the Handbook of Andrology. He has mentored many graduate students (30 PhDs, 10 MSc) and over 20 Postdoctoral Fellows, most of whom have gone on to have successful careers in academia, industry and government. His team’s work has been funded by the CIHR/MRC continuously since he opened his lab as well as by the NIH, March of Dimes, FRQNT, FRQS, and the private sector. He has served on peer review committees for numerous agencies including NIH, CIHR, CAAT, FRQNT, FRQS and has been an active member of the Advisory Board of CIHR’s IHDCYH. Honors awarded to Dr. Robaire during his career include the Award for Excellence in Reproduction from the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) and the Distinguished Academic Award of the CAUT.  He received both of the highest recognitions from the American Society of Andrology (ASA): the Distinguished Service Award and the Distinguished Andrologist Award. Over the last few years, he was awarded the R. Howard Webster Foundation Award in Reproductive Medicine, the Prix du Mentor Scientifique (CRCQ), the Prix Guy Rochon (FQPPU), the Gabriel Plaa Award of Distinction of the Canadian Society of Toxicology, and in 2013 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has served as President of ASA, CFAS, ACFAS, MAUT and the International Epididymis Symposium; he is currently Chair of the North American Testis Workshop.  He has served as both Associate Editor and then Co-Editor-in-Chief of Biology of Reproduction and as Associate Editor of Andrology; he is currently Consulting Editor for Biology of Reproduction.


SSR Virendra B. Mahesh New Investigator Award Recipient

Sue Hammoud, PhD
Assistant Professor
University of Michigan, USA

 

Dr. Hammoud is an Assistant Professor at University of Michigan in the Department of Human Genetics. Dr. Hammoud received her Ph.D. at the University of Utah. As a graduate student working with Drs. Brad Cairns and Douglas Carrell, Sue demonstrated that the paternal contribution to the embryo extends far beyond paternally imprinted genes and the genomic DNA sequence in sperm – encompassing histone modifications and small RNAs. As a postdoctoral Helen Hay Whitney fellow in the Cairns and Jones lab at the Huntsman Cancer Institute she has explored how chromatin regulates germline stem cell development and tissue homeostasis. As an independent investigator the Hammoud lab has been very fortunate to receive support from NIH (NIH innovator) and private foundations (Open Philanthropy and Chan Zuckerberg foundations), which has allowed to explore two fundamental question:

1) How do sperm transmit information from fathers to offspring through factors that go beyond the DNA sequence, and to define the molecules that may be responsible.

Through the use of novel genetic tools, we have begun to dissect the functional significance of these proteins in establishing sperm chromatin architecture during germ cell differentiation, and follow the fate and significance of these proteins during embryo development. In short, we hope our work will shed new light into the evolution of germline packaging and its contribution to embryogenesis. 

2) What are the molecular and cellular mechanisms for creating a developmentally competent gamete in vivo?  We are interested in defining the essential signals provided by the diverse classes of somatic cells that promote germ cell differentiation, meiosis, and sperm maturations. To address these questions, we take a comparative approach to characterize thousands of cells in mouse, macaque and human testes using cutting-edge single cell transcriptomics, proteomics and spatial genomic analysis tools.  These data revealed a wealth of novel evolutionary insights about the molecular and developmental changes during the spermatogenesis process, which we are beginning to apply to develop new in vitro models/systems of gametogenesis. Successful reconstitution of germ cell development in vitro or in artificial host system will provide an experimental platform for a better understanding of germ cell development, serve as an alternative source of gametes for human and animal reproduction, potentially cure genetic and iatrogenic causes of male infertility.

In addition to her research effort, Dr. Hammoud has a passion for teaching the next generation scientists – including graduate students, elementary, middle school and high school students through being on the graduate education committee, hosting Science Olympiad students and teachers brought in through the University of Michigan REACT Program, being a faculty advisor for Michigan DNA Day initiative , and co-hosting  the University of Michigan Summer Bridge Scholars with Monica Marvin Associate clinical Professor of Human Genetic.


SSR Research Award Recipient

Jeremy Wang, MD, PhD
Professor
University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, USA

 

Dr. Wang received his M.D. degree in 1990 from Beijing University Health Sciences Center and Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from Cornell University under Dr. Tim Huffaker in 1997. His postdoctoral research in Dr. David Page’s lab at Whitehead Institute focused on germ cell genomics (1997 – 2002). He joined University of Pennsylvania as Assistant Professor in 2002, became Associate Professor in 2009, and full professor in 2013. He is also the Director of Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. He serves as Associate Editor for Biology of Reproduction. His current research interests are in the study of meiosis in mouse and human: molecular genetics of meiotic recombination, regulation of meiotic cell cycle, piRNA biogenesis, epigenetic control of transposable elements, genetic causes of infertility in humans, and in vitro spermatogenesis.


SSR Trainee Mentoring Award Recipient

Joy Pate, PhD
Professor
Penn State University, USA

Dr. Joy Pate is a Professor and the C. Lee Rumberger and Family Chair in Agricultural Sciences in the Department of Animal Sciences of Penn State University, as well as the Director of the Center for Reproductive Biology and Health. She received her Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire and was appointed as Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University in 1983, where she was promoted to Professor and served a term as Associate Chair of the Department of Animal Sciences. She joined Penn State University in 2008. Her research focuses on the cellular mechanisms that regulate the lifespan of the corpus luteum (CL). Her work has provided insight into cholesterol utilization for steroidogenesis, the roles of endogenous prostaglandin production in luteal function, and the mechanisms by which exogenous prostaglandin results in the demise of the CL. Current research emphases are to understand functional programming of luteal-resident immune cells to regulate tissue homeostasis, and the role of microRNA in regulation of differentiation and rescue of the corpus luteum during early pregnancy.

Dr. Pate has been very active in The Society for the Study of Reproduction, serving as Program Chair, Director, Secretary, President and on numerous committees, and received the Distinguished Service Award from SSR in 2011. She co-chaired the Organizing Committee of the Inaugural World Congress on Reproductive Biology held in Hawaii in 2008 and was a member of the Organizing Committee of the International Ruminant Reproduction Symposium. Dr. Pate has been involved in undergraduate and graduate teaching throughout her career, including development of study abroad programs to Australia and the Azores, for which she has survived trips with up to 20 undergraduate students for 6 weeks at a time! She has received teaching awards and enjoys conveying the excitement and mysteries of science to students. Most importantly, she has been truly blessed with a number of brilliant graduate students and postdocs, who have made research and mentoring fun.


Fuller W. Bazer SSR International Scientist Award Recipient

Shaw-Jenq (Sean) Tsai, PhD
Professor
National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan

Professor Shaw-Jenq (Sean) Tsai received his PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA in 1997. He then joined the Department of Physiology at the National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, as an assistant professor in 1998. He was promoted to distinguished professor in 2008 and chair professor in 2019 in recognition of his great academic achievements. Professor Tsai is one of the five co-founder of Asian Society of Endometriosis and Adenomyosis (ASEA). Professor Tsai also served as the Director-General of Department of Life Sciences, Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan from 2014-2017.

Professor Tsai’s research focuses on investigating molecular mechanisms underlying important human diseases, including cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and endometriosis. In endometriosis research, Professor Tsai’s group is the first team to discover that endometriotic stromal cells can de novo synthesize steroids by using cholesterol by the stimulation of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)-derived prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Later on, his team characterized that PGE2 plays major role by controlling steroidogenesis, angiogenesis, and even immune suppression during the progression of endometriosis. Recently, his group reported that hypoxia-regulated epigenetic gene network is the master regulator that controls numerous pathological processes of endometriosis. He has published more than 120 papers in prestigious journals such as Nature, Nature Communications, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Pathology, Cancer Research, Nucleic Acids Research, and Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Those papers were cited more than 6150 times with an H-index of 46.

The outstanding research performance enables Professor Tsai to be awarded the “2014 Distinguished Scientist” and elected as a Fellow in 2018 by Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. Professor Tsai serves as editorial board member of many journals including Journal of Endocrinology, Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, Reproductive Medicine & Biology, Chinese Journal of Physiology, and is the Asian editor of Experimental Biology and Medicine.


Janice Bahr Junior Scientist Travel Award Recipient

Jean-Ju L. Chung, PhD
Assistant Professor
Yale University, USA

Jean-Ju L. Chung received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Seoul National University, Korean and her PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 2007. She did her postdoctoral training with David E. Clapham at Harvard Medical School. She joined Yale’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology as a faculty member in September 2015.

Her research has been devoted to investigating cellular signaling via membrane receptors and ion channels. Her laboratory seeks to understand the complex process of regulating mammalian sperm motility and fertilizing capacity, with a current focus on dissecting the function and composition of the primary calcium channel of spermatozoa, CatSper, which is essential for sperm hyperactivation. To this end, her lab continues to apply novel technologies to sperm biology and reproductive research and seeks to study physiologically relevant molecular changes during mammalian fertilization.

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Award Recipients

“The Society for the Study of Reproduction, and the SSR Awards Committee, would like to extend our sincere congratulations to this year’s SSR Awardees. These Awardees represent the best of a talented group of scientists that make up our society, and are truly exemplary in their service, mentoring and research. We are proud to call them our colleagues and friends, and pleased that their outstanding work has been recognized. This is truly a deserving group of Awardees.”
- 2018 Awards Chair, Rebecca Krishner

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