Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 1993
The uterus is a vital organ for the successful propagation of all higher species. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that contribute to the development and subsequent function of the uterus are absolutely essential for successful reproduction as well as adequate treatment of uterine disorders that impede the reproductive process. It is well established that numerous biological mediators dictate the normal pattern of uterine development and that disruption of these factors plays a causative role in uterine abnormalities, disease and infertility. Our research focuses on the role of the matrix metalloproteinase system in the development and function of the uterus and examines how unopposed protease activity may lead to uterine diseases. We are most interested in examining the regulation of these proteases at the post-transcriptional and post-translational level. Post-translational projects focus on the role of specific matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors including TIMP-1, TIMP-3 and RECK using a variety of approaches including genetically modified mouse models. Research examining post-transcriptional regulation of MMP activity focuses on the role of microRNAs in modulating uterine MMP translation during uterine development and disease. Further emphasis is placed upon examining the overall function of microRNAs in the development of the reproductive organs. Collectively, the research in my laboratory focuses on examining the mechanisms which regulate uterine development and function, identifying factors which contribute to these mechanisms and understanding how alterations in these mechanisms lead to uterine diseases such as endometriosis and endometrial cancer.