Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Ph.D.: 1983, University of Kansas School of Medicine
D.Sc.(HON): 2002, University of Guelph
|2000||University Distinguished Professor|
|2001||NIH Distinguished National Service Award (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation, Marine Biology Laboratory)|
|2002||Doctor of Science honoris causa, University of Guelph, Canada|
|2002||Top Ten Researcher, KUMC Research Institute, Inc.|
|2003||Beacon Award, Frontiers in Reproduction (NICHD, Burroughs-Wellcome)|
|2006||Board of Directors, Frontiers in Reproduction, Marine Biology Laboratory|
|2006||Advancement Board, Kansas University Endowment Association|
|2006||Alumnae Advisory Board, Department of Biology, University of Kansas|
|2006||Senior Investigator NIH Lecture Award, International Federation of Placenta Associations, Kobe, Japan|
|2007||University of Kansas Women's Hall of Fame|
|2007||Corporate Board, Marine Biology Laboratories|
|2002-2005||Senior Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, School of Medicine, KUMC|
|2004-2005||Vice Chancellor for Research, KUMC|
|2005-2006||President, KUMC Research Institute|
|2007-pres.||Vice Chancellor for Biomedical Research Infrastructure|
Our work focuses on immunological aspects of pregnancy. In one project, we study macrophages and other leukocytes in the uterus and placenta with the goal of learning how special conditions of pregnancy might influence their functions. In earlier studies we discovered that progesterone, a major steroid hormone of pregnancy derived from the mother's ovaries or from the placenta, drives these cells into an immunosuppressive phenotype appropriate to avoiding destructive maternal immune responses to the fetus. More recently, we have learned that a novel major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen called Human Leukocyte Antigen-G (HLA-G), which is produced in placentas, is also capable of helping in the development of an immunosuppressive environment at the maternal-fetal interface. Thus, the placenta plays a major role in developing uteroplacental immune privilege. In order to study how HLA-G achieves immunosuppression we have produced recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies to learn about two isoforms of HLA-G, both of which are produced as soluble proteins. In collaboration with investigators at the University of Kyushu, Japan, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and the University of Chicago we are defining the cell-specific locations of cells in the placenta and maternal uterus that express receptors for HLA-G, are working toward evaluation of the crystal structures of HLA-G and are determining genetic patterns for receptor expression. In a second project we are studying another gene family expressed in placentas, the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) supergene family, some members of which appear to be involved in both the immunology of pregnancy and in facilitating growth and development of the placenta. These experiments focus in part on genetically modified mice.
Hunt offices also house the Kansas Institutional Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE), a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant awarded to Hunt that supports (1) the development of students interested in biomedical research, (2) faculty efforts to improve competitiveness for NIH research funds, and (3) biomedical research infrastructure such as bioinformatics. All efforts are networked into 10 campuses across Kansas and Oklahoma. involved in biomedical researchat 10 institutions. Within these offices resides the Kansas Institutional Development Award (IdeA) effort for the State of Kansas, which brings together researchers from three of the major campuses in Kansas, Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas University in Lawrence, and Kansas State University in Manhattan. Dr. Hunt serves as chair.
Associates and Staff
In the Office...
In the Lab...
Left to right: Wheaton, Hunt, Langat, Pace (Sifers, not shown)
Renee van Erp
Joan S. Hunt, PhD
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160