Image of students in front of the C. S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development

Reproductive Sciences Graduate Program

Program description

Our interdisciplinary Reproductive Sciences Graduate Program focuses on research training and education in reproduction and development including genomics, epigenetics, proteomics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics. Our graduate program provides foundational didactics on adult and fetal male and female reproductive physiology and an advanced coursework on reproductive health and disease, with special emphasis placed on the impact of environmental exposures on reproductive health. Our graduate program integrates faculty in basic science and clinical investigation to study both basic and clinical aspects of human reproductive health. Special emphasis is placed on life windows of heightened susceptibility to environmental exposure and vulnerable persons at risk for environmental disease, such as pregnant women, the developing fetus and newborn. Particularly in an industrialized urban environment, such as Detroit, dynamic interactions among an individual’s genetic, epigenetic make-up and environmental stressors, which include chronic low-level toxicant exposures work to re-program key cellular regulatory networks to favor negative reproductive outcomes.

Program goal

The interdisciplinary program in “Reproductive Sciences” is designed to prepare trainees to function as independent reproductive health researchers and/or practitioners in a multi-disciplinary setting, by providing training in both mechanistic and applied research. The program is geared to provide comprehensive research training opportunities that span the spectrum from basic science to practical application of scientific knowledge in reproductive health. To achieve this goal, the C.S. Mott Center has assembled committed mentors who will provide the trainees with the guidance, resources and technical experience along with rigorous oversight to ensure our students gain the knowledge, skills, academic career development that will facilitate their advancement to the future stages in their reproductive science careers. The C.S. Mott Center will provide graduate students the opportunity to work side by side in state-of-the-art research facilities and will join a diverse group of trainees including post-doctoral fellows, medical residents, medical fellows and junior faculty. The program will advance our understanding of how exposures to stressors which are prevalent in the Detroit urban industrialized environment, both chemical and non-chemical, impact human male and female reproductive health. The program will encourage and facilitate collaborative research opportunities for students through externships with practitioners at federal and state agencies, industrial stakeholders, and non-governmental organizations.

Major areas of specialization

  • Gonad and Gamete Biology
  • Reproductive Immunology
  • Early Embryo and Fetal Development
  • Maternal-Fetal Physiology
  • Placental Biology
  • Physiology of Parturition
  • Reproductive Tract Biology
  • Female Reproductive Cancers
  • Reproductive Stress
  • Reproductive Toxicology
  • Epigenetic Programming
  • Clinical Trials
  • Emerging Technologies

Current courses offered

PSL7690 – Principles in Reproductive Biology

This is an introductory course of human and mammalian reproduction which covers the major principles governing reproductive function, including endocrinology; gametogenesis; fertilization; implantation; embryogenesis; stem cell determination; pregnancy and parturition. Basic knowledge of biology, genetics, embryology and molecular biology is recommended prior to taking this course.

Course Director: Professor Jeyasuria Pancharatnam, PhD,

PSL7710 – Disease States and Reproductive Processes

Diseases and areas in reproductive medicine where additional research is required. Students accompany clinicians during rounds in hospital and out-patient clinics.

Course director: Professor Elizbeth Puscheck, MD,

PSL7700 – Stem Cell Biology

We will be exploring stem cells: examining their origins and biology; their diverse functions in various organ systems; and the ethics and promises of their applications in biotechnology and regenerative medicine. Students are expected to have some background in mammalian cellular, developmental, and/or molecular biology. Prerequisite: contact the course director about meeting the requirements.

Course Director: Professor Zhengqing Hu, PhD,

PSL7730 – Teratology

This graduate seminar is a didactic course focused on the scientific study of abnormal prenatal development and birth defects. The readings, lectures, discussions and assignments are designed to help you understand, critique effectively about the biological, environmental, developmental, and psychosocial factors, mechanisms and processes of abnormal early development. The approach is multidisciplinary and addresses medical/clinical, historical, social, cultural, economic and political complexities of birth defects. We focus on the impact of exposures to selected exogenous teratogens, including drugs, toxicants, medicines, pollutants, viruses, and “fate.”

Course Director: Professor Mike Petriello, PhD,

PSL7770 – Reproductive Immunology

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the role of the immune system in the physiology and pathology of the female reproductive system during non-pregnant as well as in the pregnant state. This course will critically review the current scientific rationale and validity of specific reproductive immunological tests and the level of evidence that supports and refutes the use of various types of immunotherapy for specific indications.

Course Director: Professor Gil Mor, MD PhD,

PSL7775 – Current Research Topics in Reproductive Science

This course covers the principles and translational components of reproduction and associated disease states including, endocrinology, infertility, contraception, recurrent pregnancy loss, menopause and reproductive immunology.

Course Director: Professor Jennifer Condon PhD,

PSL7910 – Epigenetics and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease

Numerous animal and epidemiologic studies demonstrate that many adult onset diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to mental health may result from environmental conditions, such as famine or chemical exposures, encountered early in life or even prior to conception. This course will cover principles and current and seminal research in the field of developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). Topics will include the history of DOHaD; windows of susceptibility in male and female germs cells and early-life development; the numerous environmental factors (e.g., nutrition, toxicants, built environment) that may affect your health later in life; and the mechanisms (e.g., epigenetics) that link early-life environmental conditions to adult-onset diseases. Some knowledge of biology, genetics, embryology, and molecular biology recommended. Teratology course is required.

Course Directors: Professor Richard Pilsner, MPH, PhD,

Professor Douglas Ruden, PhD,

C.S. Mott Center and Reproductive Sciences Concentration Graduate Students

Nicholas Adzibolosu

Nicholas Adzibolosu

Mentored at the C.S. Mott Center by Professor Gil Mor

During my three years of clinical practice (2016 – 2019) as a young physician in Ghana, I developed strong interests in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology. I found caring for pregnant women and helping to successfully manage various complications of pregnancy uniquely fulfilling. However, we were also unable to prevent, or manage without adverse sequelae, some pregnancy complications such as severe pre-eclampsia & eclampsia, intrauterine fetal complications and placental abruption using information from current research data alone. This led me to seek to pursue academic research to further understand the physiology and pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these conditions in order to help introduce superior preventive strategies and/or improve on existing treatment protocols. With funding from the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship, I studied an MSc Medical Sciences program at Newcastle University in the UK as a first step towards achieving this goal. I then came across the Physiology PhD program with concentration in Reproductive Sciences housed here at the C. S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development as one of only a handful of programs in the United States which offered the exact course combination that I wanted. Therefore, I applied to study here, and I have been blessed to be able to learn from the many reproductive science experts here at the Mott Center since I arrived in January 2021. I am excited about my future research and I look forward to learning more and contributing to the field by the end of my PhD and beyond.


1. Nicholas K. Adzibolosu, Ayesha B. Alvero, Rouba Ali-Fehmi, Radhika Gogoi, Logan Corey, Roslyn Tedja, Hussein Chehade, Vir Gogoi, Robert Morris, Matthew Anderson, Julie Vitko, Clarissa Lam, Douglas B. Craig, Sorin Draghici, Thomas Rutherford, Gil Mor. Immunological modifications following chemotherapy are associated with delayed recurrence of ovarian cancer. Frontiers in Immunology 2023 (Submitted)

2. Yi Zhang, Roslyn Tedja, Michael Millman, Terrence Wong, Alexandra Fox, Hussein Chehade, Meyer Gershater, Nicholas Adzibolosu, Radhika Gogoi, Matthew Anderson, Thomas Rutherford, Zhenggang Zhang, Michael Chopp, Gil Mor, Ayesha B. Alvero. Adipose-derived exosomal miR-421 targets CBX7 and promotes metastatic potential in ovarian cancer cells. Molecular Cancer Research 2023 (Submitted)

3. Anthony Maxwell, Nicholas Adzibolosu, Anna Hu, Yuan You, Paul M. Stemmer, Douglas M. Ruden, Michael C. Petriello, Marianna Sadagurski, Lucas K. Debarba, Lisa Koshko, Jaynanth Ramadoss, Annie Thy Nguyen, Darby Richards, Aihua Liao, Gil Mor, Jiahui Ding. Intrinsic Sexual Dimorphism in the Placenta Determines the Differential Response to Benzene Exposure. iScience 2023, 26(4):106287. Doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.106287

4. Roslyn Tedja, Ayesha B. Alvero, Alexandra Fox, Carlos Cardenas, Mary Pitruzzello, Hussein Chehade, Tejeshwar Bawa, Nicholas Adzibolosu, Radhika Gogoi, Gil Mor. Generation of stable epithelial-mesenchymal hybrid cancer cells with tumorigenic potential. Cancers 2023, 15(3), 684. Doi: 10.3390/cancers15030684.

5. Hussein Chehade, Neeraja Purandare, Alexandra Fox, Nicholas Adzibolosu, Shawn Jayee, Aryan Singh, Roslyn Tedja, Radhika Gogoi, Siddesh Aras, Lawrence I. Grossman, Gil Mor, Ayesha B. Alvero. MNRR1 is a driver of ovarian cancer progression. Transl Oncol. 2023, 29:101623. Doi: 10.1016/j.tranon.2023.101623.

6. Hussein Chehade, Roslyn Tedja, Harry Ramos, Tejeshwar Singh Bawa, Nicholas Adzibolosu, Radhika Gogoi, Gil Mor, Ayesha B. Alvero. Regulatory role of the adipose microenvironment on ovarian cancer progression. Cancers 2022, 14(9):2267. Doi: 10.3390/cancers14092267

7. Jiahui Ding, Anthony Maxwell, Nicholas Adzibolosu, Anna Hu, Yuan You, Aihua Liao, Gil Mor. Mechanisms of immune regulation by the placenta: Role of type I interferon and interferon-stimulated genes signaling during pregnancy. Immunological Reviews 2022, 308(1):9-24. Doi: 10.1111/imr.13077

1st Place, Three-Minute Thesis Competition, 2023 Graduate Research Symposium, Wayne State University

Savni Sawant

Savni Sawant

Mentored at the C.S. Mott Center by Professor Richard Pilsner

I am a clinical embryologist and completed my master’s in Reproductive Medicine from the University of Oxford, UK in 2018. As an embryologist, my specialization was intra cytoplasmic sperm injection, where I dealt with severely infertile men and developed microsurgical methods of using poor sperm to result in successful oocyte fertilization in IVF cycles to create embryos, and also by using surgical testicular sperm extraction. With time, I noticed that my job was getting harder, meaning that the overall quality of men’s sperm was declining and so my interest shifted from clinical practice to scientific research.
For years I have focused on treating male infertility, but through a PhD, I want to go back to the root cause on the molecular level and focus on prevention and early diagnosis. This has led me to join the Pilsner lab which focuses on the environmental effects on sperm epigenetics and their detrimental effects on male fertility. My current track of work focuses on how the quality of a sperm sample is affected by its epigenetic profile.

Melissa Bukowski

Melissa Bukowski

Mentored at the C.S. Mott Center by Professor Jennifer Condon

I was a research assistant at Wayne State for many years before deciding to return to graduate school for my PhD in physiology. I love medical research and teaching and wanted to be involved in both. I currently am at the Mott Center under Dr. Jennifer Condon studying the endoplasmic reticulum stress response and its role in preterm birth. Although I am childfree by choice, I believe that every family who wants children should be able to have them safely and healthily. By studying the mechanisms underlying gestational length, we can develop better treatments to reduce preterm labor and help infants stay out of the NICU and grow up healthy. After I finish my degree, I hope to remain in academia, either helping with OB/GYN clinical trials or by doing basic sciences research to clarify gaps in knowledge.


1.Sethuram R, Bukowski M, Hernandez F, You Y, Puscheck E, Mor G, Jeyasuria P, Condon JC. Endoplasmic reticulum stress response and the regulation of endometrial interferon beta production. F S Sci, 2023.

2.Bukowski MJ, Cavanaugh B, Abbo A, Chung CS. Mechanical Control of Relaxation using Intact Cardiac Trabeculae. J Vis Exp, 2023.

3. Schick BM, Dlugas H, Czeiszperger TL, Matus AR, Bukowski MJ, Chung CS. Reduced Preload Improves Mechanical Control (Strain-rate Dependence) of Relaxation by Modifying Myosin Detachment Kinetics. Arch Biochem Biophys, 2021.

4. Fogo GM, Anzell AR, Maheras KJ, Raghunayakula S, Wider JM, Emaus KJ, Bryson TD, Bukowski MJ, Neumar RW, Przyklenk K, Sanderson TH. Machine learning-based classification of mitochondrial morphology in primary neurons and brain. Sci Rep, 2021.

5. Sanderson TH, Wider JM, Lee I, Reynolds CA, Liu J, Lepore B, Tousignant R, Bukowski MJ, Johnston H, Fite A, Raghunayakula S, Kamholz J, Grossman LI, Przyklenk K, Hüttemann M. Inhibitory modulation of cytochrome c oxidase activity with specific near-infrared light wavelengths attenuates brain ischemia/reperfusion injury. Sci Rep, 2018.

6. Kumar R, Bukowski MJ, Wider JM, Reynolds CA, Calo L, Lepore B, Tousignant R, Jones M, Przyklenk K, Sanderson TH. Mitochondrial Dynamics Following Global Cerebral Ischemia. Mol Cell Neurosci, 2016.

7. Sanderson TH, Mahapatra G, Pecina P, Ji Q, Yu K, Sinkler C, Varughese A, Kumar R, Bukowski MJ, Tousignant RN, Salomon AR, Lee I, Hüttemann M. Cytochrome c is tyrosine 97 phosphorylated by neuroprotective insulin treatment. PLoS one, 2013.


Marion I. Barnhart PhD Fellowship
Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Fellowship

Candice Yap Yi Tian

Candice Yap Yi Tian

Mentored at the C.S. Mott Center by Professor Zhibing Zhang

I am a Biomedical Sciences graduate from the University of Nottingham, UK. Following that, I worked as a clinical embryologist, specializing in various artificial reproductive technologies including semen analysis, oocyte collection, intrauterine insemination, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. I became a PhD applicant at the Wayne State University in 2018. My research focuses on uncovering the mechanisms underlying cilia formation, primarily in the reproductive tracts. Our lab discovered a significant protein complex that is indispensable for spermiogenesis, and we are working on applying this knowledge to develop non-hormonal male contraceptives. During my time as a PhD student, I published 4 first-authored and 7 co-authored manuscripts. I am also an MCI fellow for Year 2021-2023. As I approach the end of my graduate school experience, I am grateful for the training and support I’ve received in shaping me to become an independent and logical thinker.


1. Shuo Yuan, Yi Tian Yap, Cassidy Wood, Qian Huang, Ling Zhang, Zhibing Zhang, Yunhao Liu. Dissecting the SPAG6 domain that mediates interaction with Snapin. Mol Reprod Dev. 2021, 87 (2): 260-261

2. Zhengyu Wang, Yuqin Shi, Suheng Ma, Qian Huang, Yi Tian Yap, Lin Shi, Shiyang Zhang, Ting Zhou, Wei Li, Bo Hu, Ling Zhang, Stephen A Krawetz, Gregory J Pazour, Rex A Hess, Zhibing Zhang. Abnormal fertility, acrosome formation, IFT20 expression and localization in the conditional Gmap210 knockout mice. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2019, 318 (1): C174-190

3. ShiyangZhang, Yunhao Liu, Hong Liu, Qian Huang, Lin Shi, Yi Tian Yap, Wei Li, Jingkai Zhen, Ling Zhang, Rex A Hess, Zhibing Zhang.  Murine germ cell-specific disruption of Ift172 causes defects in spermiogenesis and male fertility. Reproduction. 2020, 159: 409-421

4. QianHuang,Shiyang Zhang, Yunhao Liu, Yi Tian Yap, Wei Li, David Zhang, Amhad Gardner, Ling Zhang, Shizheng Song, Rex  A Hess, Zhibing Zhang.  Autophagy core protein ATG5 is required for spermiation in the mouse testis and normal male fertility.  Autophagy. 2020, 17 (7): 1753-1767

5. WeiQu,Shuo Yuan, Chao Quan, Qian Huang, Yi Tian Yap, Lin Shi, David Zhang, Tamia Guest, Wei Li, Siu-Pok Yee, Ling Zhang, Caroline Cazin, Pierre F. Ray, Zine-Eddine Kherraf, Zhibing Zhang. The essential role of Intraflagellar transport protein IFT81 in male mice fertility and spermiogenesis. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2020, 318: C1092-C1106

6.  Yi TianYap, Yuhong Li, Wei Li, Probal Banerjee, Zhibing Zhang. ATP8a1, an IFT27 binding partner, is dispensable for spermatogenesis and male fertility. Mol Reprod Dev.2021, 88 (5): 371-375.

7. Qian Huang, Wei Li, Qi Zhou, Parirokh Awasthi, Caroline Cazin, Yitian Yap, Bo Hu, Pancharatnam Jeyasuria, Ling Zhang, Rex A Hess, Pierre F. Ray, Zine-Eddine Kherraf, Ven Natarajan. Leucine zipper transcription factor-like 1 (LZTFL1), an intraflagellar transporter protein 27 (IFT27) associated protein, is required for normal sperm function and male fertility. Dev Biol. 2021, 477: 164-176.

8. Wei Li, Qian Huang, Ling Zhang, Hong Liu, David Zhang, Shuo Yuan, Yitian Yap, Shizheng Song, Rex A Hess, Zhibing Zhang. A single amino acid mutation in the mouse MEIG1 protein disrupts a cargo transport system necessary for sperm formation. J Biol Chem. 2021, 297 (5): 101312.

9. Yi Tian Yap, Wei Li, Qi Zhou, Sarah Haj-Diab, Dipanwita Dutta Chowdhury, Asmita Vaishnav, Pamela Harding, David C Williams Jr, Brian FP Edwards, Jerome F Strauss III, Zhibing Zhang. The ancient and evolved mouse sperm associated antigen 6 genes have different biologic functions in vivo. Cells. 2022, 11 (3): 336

10. Yi Tian Yap; Lin Shi; David Zhang; Qian Huang; Fabiha Siddika; Zhenyu Wang; Wei Li, Zhibing Zhang. MEIG1 determines the manchette localization of IFT20 and IFT88, two intraflagellar transport components in male germ cells. Dev Biol. 2022, 485: 50-60

11. Yi Tian Yap, Wei Li, Qian Huang, Qi Zhou, James G Grannemann, Pierre F Ray, David Williams, Rex A Hess, Aminata Toure, Zhibing Zhang. Axonemal dynein light intermediate polypeptide 1 (DNALI1) forms a complex with PACRG in the manchette for cargo transport. [Manuscript under review]

12. Yi Tian Yap, Shuo Yuan, Wei Li, Wei Qu, Ljiljana Mladenovic-Lucas, Alyson Sujkowski, Robert Wessells, Jie Xu, James Granneman, Aminata Toure, Jifeng Zhang, Zhibing Zhang. Disruption of a cargo transport system for sperm formation by a single amino acid mutation in mouse PACRG protein. [Manuscript in progress]


Awarded travel grant to attend the American Society of Andrology conference 2019 in Chicago.
Recipient of Marian I. Barnhart Graduate Student Award for the academic year of 2018-2019
Poster was awarded 2nd place during WSU Graduate Student Research Day 2019
Poster was awarded honourable mention at WSU Graduate and Postdoctoral Research Symposium 2020
Recipient of Marian I. Barnhart Graduate Student Award for the academic year of 2020-2021
Platform presentation was awarded 3rd place at WSU Graduate Research Symposium 2021
MCI Fellowship recipient for 2021-2023
Recipient of David and Barbara Pieper Award for the academic year of 2021-2022

DruAnne Maxwell

DruAnne Maxwell

Mentored at the C.S. Mott Center by Professor Richard Pilsner

Prior to joining the PhD program at Wayne State, I was an undergraduate at Saginaw Valley State University studying the effects of the ketogenic diet on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as looking at the effects the ketogenic diet had on cardiovascular health. I applied to Wayne State initially because of the interest I had in the cardiovascular system. Not only was it something that interested me, but my father suffered from advanced vascular disease and passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 59. I pursued cardiovascular research so I could find a cure for his disease but that is not where I would end up. While I enjoy cardiovascular research, my passion shifted away from cardiovascular and towards reproductive science. If you asked me in 2020, I would’ve told you “There is no way I would be working in reproductive science, my heart is in cardiovascular research”. If you asked me now, I would say “Working in reproductive science fulfills my research interests beyond what I thought possible”. I am currently using bioinformatic analysis to investigate sperm epigenetic modifications and how environmental contaminants/toxins can result in altered sperm morphology and/or changes in sperm DNA methylation. My experiences have motivated me to make a career out of researching environmental toxins and the implications they have on reproductive outcomes.


1. Maxwell DL, Bryson TD, Taube D, Xu J, Peterson E, Harding P. Deleterious effects of cardiomyocyte-specific prostaglandin E2 EP3 receptor overexpression on cardiac function after myocardial infarction. Life Sci. 2023 Jan 15;313:121277. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2022.121277. PMID: 36521546.


2023, Graduate Student Professional Travel Award
2023, Department of Physiology Travel Grant Award
2023, American Society of Andrology (ASA) Trainee Travel award
2022-2023, Rumble Fellowship, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit MI
2021, Omics Grant, Physiology Department: Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit MI
2020-2022, Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Fellowship, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit MI

Anthony Maxwell

Anthony Maxwell

Mentored at the C.S. Mott Center by Professor Gil Mor

I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. This city is infamous because the people living there have had undrinkable water since 2014. In addition to this, Flint was one of the major industrialized cities in Michigan. Because of this, the city is heavily polluted with lead in the drinking water and high levels of VOCs. Flint has been well above the national average for infant mortality, preterm births, and maternal mortality. These pregnancy complications are thought to be associated with the high levels of pollutants Flint residents are exposed to. After losing a sibling and almost my mother from pregnancy complications, I have dedicated my life to understand how toxicant exposure to pregnant mothers leads to pregnancy complications, such as preterm birth, and also how this exposure leads to the onset of diseases after the babies are born. The ultimate goal behind this work is to develop therapeutic and diagnostic tools to combat the impact of pollutants on pregnant mothers and their babies. My future plans, include staying at Wayne State University to continue my studies on maternal pollutant exposure and will be doing a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Jiajui Ding to investigate the impact of maternal VOC exposure on the offspring’s pulmonary immune system.


1. Maxwell, A., Adzibolosu, N., Hu, A., You, Y., Stemmer, P.M., Ruden, D.M., Petriello, M.C., Sadagurski, M., Debarba, L.K., Koshko, L. and Ramadoss, J., Intrinsic Sexual Dimorphism in the Placenta Determines the Differential Response to Benzene Exposure. iScience. 2023
2. Maxwell A, You Y, Aldo PB, Zhang Y, Ding J, Mor G. The role of the immune system during pregnancy: General concepts. In Reproductive Immunology. 1 (pp. 1-21). Academic Press. 2021 Jan

3. Maxwell A, Ding J, You Y, Dong Z, Chehade H, Alvero A, Mor Y, Draghici S, Mor G. Identification of key signaling pathways induced by SARS‐CoV2 that underlie thrombosis and vascular injury in COVID‐19 patients. Journal of leukocyte biology. 2021 Jan;109(1):35-47.

4. Ding, Jiahui, Anthony Maxwell, Nicholas Adzibolosu, Anna Hu, Yuan You, Aihua Liao, and Gil Mor. “Mechanisms of immune regulation by the placenta: Role of type I interferon and interferon‐stimulated genes signaling during pregnancy.” Immunological Reviews (2022).

5. You Y, Stelzl P, Joseph DN, Aldo PB, Maxwell AJ, Dekel N, Liao A, Whirledge S, Mor G. TNF-α Regulated Endometrial Stroma Secretome Promotes Trophoblast Invasion. Front Immunol. 2021 Nov 1;12:737401. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.737401. PMID: 34790194; PMCID: PMC8591203.

6. Zambrano H, Anchundia K, Aviles D, Andaluz R, Calderon N, Torres E, Gonzalez-Granda N, Maxwell A, Chen K, Gonik B, Mor G. Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Immunoglobulins in Pregnant Women and Neonatal Cord Blood from a Highly Impacted Region. The Lancet. Available at SSRN 3878088. 2021.

7. Ding J, Aldo P, Roberts CM, Stabach PR, Liu H, You Y, Qiu X, Jeong J, Maxwell A, Lindenbach BD, Braddock DT. Essential Role of Placenta Derived Interferon Stimulated Gene 20 Against ZIKA Virus Infection. Frontiers in Immunology. 2021 July.

8. Huang X, Wang L, Zhao S, Liu H, Chen S, Wu L, Liu L, Ding J, Yang H, Maxwell A, Yin Z. Pregnancy Induces an Immunological Memory Characterized by Maternal Immune Alterations Through Specific Genes Methylation. Frontiers in immunology. 2021 Jun 7;12:2156.


2023, Three Minute Thesis First Place, Physiology Department, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
2022, American Society of Reproductive Immunology Travel Grant.
2021, Marian I. Barnhart Graduate Student Award, Physiology Department-Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan
2021, Omics Grant, Physiology Department-Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan
2019-2021, Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Fellow, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan

Zachary Shaffer

Zachary Shaffer

Mentor: Professor Kevin Theis


1. Greenberg JM, Romero R, Winters AD, Galaz J, Garcia-Flores V, Arenas-Hernandez M, Panzer J, Shaffer Z, Kracht DJ, Gomez-Lopez N, Theis KR. Microbiota of the Pregnant Mouse: Characterization of the Bacterial Communities in the Oral Cavity, Lung, Intestine, and Vagina through Culture and DNA Sequencing. Microbiol Spectr. 2022 Aug 31;10(4):e0128622. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.01286-22. PMID: 35916526

2. Gomez-Lopez N, Galaz J, Miller D, Farias-Jofre M, Liu Z, Arenas-Hernandez M, Garcia-Flores V, Shaffer Z, Greenberg JM, Theis KR, Romero R. The immunobiology of preterm labor and birth: intra-amniotic inflammation or breakdown of maternal-fetal homeostasis. Reproduction. 2022 Jun 20;164(2):R11-R45. doi: 10.1530/REP-22-0046. PMID: 35559791

3. Farias-Jofre M, Romero R, Galaz J, Xu Y, Tao L, Demery-Poulos C, Arenas-Hernandez M, Bhatti G, Liu Z, Kawahara N, Kanninen T, Shaffer Z, Chaiworapongsa T, Theis KR, Tarca AL, Gomez-Lopez N. Pregnancy tailors endotoxin-induced monocyte and neutrophil responses in the maternal circulation. Inflamm Res. 2022 Apr 21:1-16. doi: 10.1007/s00011-022-01569-z. PMID: 35445873

4. Winters AD, Romero R, Greenberg JM, Galaz J, Shaffer ZD, Garcia-Flores V, Kracht DJ, Gomez-Lopez N, Theis KR. Does the Amniotic Fluid of Mice Contain a Viable Microbiota? Front Immunol. 2022 Feb 28;13:820366. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.820366. PMID: 35296083

5. Damico ME, Rueppell O, Shaffer Z, Han B, Raymann K. High royal jelly production does not impact the gut microbiome of honey bees. Anim Microbiome. 2021 Sep 13;3(1):60. doi: 10.1186/s42523-021-00124-1. PMID: 34517918

6. Raymann K, Coon KL, Shaffer Z, Salisbury S, Moran NA. Correction for Raymann et al., “Pathogenicity of Serratia marcescens Strains in Honey bees”. mBio. 2019 Feb 5;10(1):e02855-18. doi: 10.1128/mBio.02855-18. PMID: 30723134

7. Raymann K, Coon KL, Shaffer Z, Salisbury S, Moran NA. Pathogenicity of Serratia marcescens Strains in Honey Bees. mBio. 2018 Oct 9;9(5):e01649-18. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01649-18. PMID: 30301854

8. Raymann K, Shaffer Z, Moran NA. Antibiotic exposure perturbs the gut microbiota and elevates mortality in honeybees. PLoS Biol. 2017 Mar 14;15(3):e2001861. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2001861. eCollection 2017 Mar. PMID: 28291793

Hussein Chehade

Hussein Chehade

Mentored at the C.S. Mott Center by Professor Gil Mor

Since I was a child, I have always been fascinated by the complexity of the human body, understanding how it functions in health and disease, and how the medical methods used to cure diseases are developed. Once I started my undergraduate research in 2017, I became certain that the career I have chosen is the closest to my identity and demands.

My long-term research interests are in biology with particular emphasis in genetics, evolution, cellular and molecular life sciences, and understanding the fundamental aspects of biological diversity. I chose Wayne State University’s Center of Molecular Medicine and Genetics as an ideal place to pursue my PhD because of their high-quality research, unique clinical experiences presented by the city of Detroit, and found that my interests in genetics fit very well in this program.

I have conducted a number of research projects during my undergraduate studies, where we established a new screening method for quickly identifying soil microbes that produce antimicrobial compounds. As a part of the screen, we have developed co-inoculate diluted soil samples and an excess of different target strains. After growing the soil sample for a few weeks, we were easily able to identify antibiotic-producing soil microbes. To aid in purification of the soil microbes away from the target microbe, we generated a series of D-alanine auxotrophic mutants that die when D-alanine is removed from the media. I have used recombinant DNA techniques to construct suicide vectors to engineer clean deletion mutants of two D-alanine racemes genes, dadX and alr, in Pseudomonas putida. This work has involved learning how to analyze and manipulate genomic sequences to design primers, complex PCR methods, restriction-digest base cloning methods, conjugation, antibiotic selection, and mutant verification. I then used this D- alanine auxotrophic mutant to look for potentially new antibiotics that are effective against multi-drug resistant P. aerugino.


1. Chehade, Hussein & Purandare, Neeraja & Fox, Alexandra & Adzibolosu, Nicholas & Jayee, Shawn & Singh, Aryan & Tedja, Roslyn & Gogoi, Radhika & Aras, Siddhesh & Grossman, Lawrence I & Mor, Gil & Alvero, Ayesha. (2023). MNRR1 is a driver of ovarian cancer progression. Translational Oncology. 29. 101623. 10.1016/j.tranon.2023.101623.

2. Tedja, Roslyn & Alvero, Ayesha & Fox, Alexandra & Cárdenas, Carlos & Pitruzzello, Mary & Chehade, Hussein & Bawa, Tejeshwhar & Adzibolosu, Nicholas & Gogoi, Radhika & Mor, Gil. (2023). Generation of Stable Epithelial–Mesenchymal Hybrid Cancer Cells with Tumorigenic Potential. Cancers. 15. 684. 10.3390/cancers15030684.

3. Chehade, H. & Purandare, Neeraja & Fox, A. & Gogoi, R. & Aras, Siddhesh & Grossman, Lawrence I & Mor, Gil & Alvero, A.. (2022). Loss of MNRR1 inhibits spheroid formation and improves survival in an ovarian cancer mouse syngeneic model. European Journal of Cancer. 174. S48. 10.1016/S0959-8049(22)00929-7.

4. Chehade, Hussein & Tedja, Roslyn & Ramos, Harry & Bawa, Tejeshwar & Adzibolosu, Nicholas & Gogoi, Radhika & Mor, Gil & Alvero, Ayesha. (2022). Regulatory Role of the Adipose Microenvironment on Ovarian Cancer Progression. Cancers. 14. 2267. 10.3390/cancers14092267.

5. Chehade, Hussein & Fox, Alexandra & Tedja, Roslyn & Gogoi, Radhika & Mor, Gil & Alvero, Ayesha. (2021). Abstract 2333: EMT programs ovarian cancer cells to survive the adipocyte-rich microenvironment. Cancer Research. 81. 2333-2333. 10.1158/1538-7445.AM2021-2333.

6. Chehade, Hussein & Fox, Alexandra & Mor, Gil & Alvero, Ayesha. (2021). Determination of Caspase Activation by Western Blot. 10.1007/978-1-0716-1162-3_1.

7. Chehade, Hussein & Fox, Alexandra & Mor, Gil & Alvero, Ayesha. (2021). Subcellular Fractionation to Demonstrate Activation of Intrinsic Apoptotic Pathway. 10.1007/978-1-0716-1162-3_3.

8. Maxwell, Anthony & Ding, Jiahui & You, Yuan & Dong, Zhong & Chehade, Hussein & Alvero, Ayesha & Mor, Yechiel & Draghici, Sorin & Mor, Gil. (2020). Identification of key signaling pathways induced by SARS‐CoV2 that underlie thrombosis and vascular injury in COVID‐19 patients. Journal of Leukocyte Biology. 109. 10.1002/JLB.4COVR0920-552RR.