Illustration of sperm and egg cell. 3D illustration

The Female Fertility Research Program

By focusing on the health of future mothers and their eggs before conception, the Female Fertility Research Program at the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development optimizes the resulting health of their children. We embrace the uniqueness of our local community and urban environment by providing an integrative “omics” approach to research- a rapidly evolving, multi-disciplinary, and emerging field that encompasses genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. The program’s ultimate goal is to improve couples’ reproductive success through personalized approaches to reproductive health, with equal emphasis on both partners. This leads to better health and fertility potential, and improved pregnancy outcomes that fulfill our mission to transform children’s health globally, starting in Detroit.

Research Program
Illustration of Female Fertility Research program

A Bold New Approach:
Enhancing the Female Contribution to Reproductive Success

The C.S. Mott Center at Wayne State University School of Medicine is leading the charge in precision reproductive medicine research, as its Female Fertility Research Program is transforming our knowledge of female reproductive health and healthy infants through studies in:

Optimal Preconception Health

The preconception window, the period in which sperm or oocytes mature, is the earliest developmental period that affects both reproductive success and the overall health and development of infants. The Female Fertility Research Program aims to understand how factors such as environmental stressors, oxidative stress, nutrition, inflammation, and diseases such as Diabetes, Endometriosis, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome impact the maturity of healthy oocytes, or “eggs”. This will allow the optimization of the preconception environment to start any future children on the best health trajectory.

The Post-Conception Environment

Soon after conception, 50-70% of all embryos are lost by miscarriage, resulting in more loss of human life during the first few weeks of pregnancy than cancer and cardiovascular diseases combined. By utilizing an integrative “omics” research approach, we can come closer to understanding how environmental toxicants such as PFAS and phthalates affect the health of the embryo after fertilization, as well as reporting the single or mixed effects of environmental, drug, nutritional, and maternal hormonal stresses that may lead to miscarriage or birth defects.

Oocyte Development

The Female Fertility Research Program deeply studies how oocytes are formed during development, from the primordial germ cell stage to the mature oocyte. Powerful genetic and cell biological tools allow researchers to perform high-throughput detection screenings for mutations that affect oogenesis, the differentiation of the ovum into a cell competent to further develop when fertilized. The program is also studying liquid-to-gel-to-solid phase transitions that are critical for oocyte development.

Environmental contributions to child health outcomes (ECHO)

The C.S. Mott Center is involved in a large, longitudinal study of how environmental exposures during pregnancy affect the health of the child through an established cohort of over 4000 mothers and children throughout Michigan. Following from the first trimester of pregnancy to early childhood, the children’s health outcomes include obesity, asthma, and autism. This research has resulted in over 50 peer reviewed papers, with a recent publication in the Journal of the America Medical Association (JAMA) Archives that details how the epigenetic clock is accelerated in newborns that are born prematurely.