The Reproductive Sciences and Regenerative Medicine
Unit (RSRM) has a long-standing and productive history of addressing human health-related problems using the nonhuman primate as the animal model of choice. Unit Scientists have made substantial contributions to the study of gamete biology and cryopreservation, reproductive toxicology and healthy aging, and cell- and gene-based therapies / regenerative medicine. The Unit has an outstanding track record in forming multidisciplinary partnerships and teams, and is firmly centered within the UC Davis Stem Cell Program, Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC), has ties to the Center for Health and the Environment, and is tightly linked with the School of Medicine and College of Engineering. Unit Scientists are committed to working in compelling areas of translational research that will enhance scientific and medical progress, and to mentor and train the next generation of investigators with expertise in the use of the nonhuman primate model. Unit members fulfill their role as Staff Scientists by engaging in a variety of services that enhance the nonhuman primate resource including assay and model development, and in vivo imaging methodologies specific to nonhuman primates.
Research Accomplishments in the RSRM Unit include:
- Developed and utilized methods for assisted reproductive technologies such as semen collection and oocyte cryopreservation.
- Established sperm banking with a focus on preservation of genetic diversity for macaques at the NPRCs.
- Conducted a series of investigations to address endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxicants that have significant impact on human health across the lifespan (e.g., triclocarban, bisphenol A, dibutylphthalate, bromodichloromethane, TCDD).
- Developed biomarkers to monitor the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis to investigate the endocrine changes associated with the menopausal transition in human and nonhuman primates.
- Demonstrated administration of lentiviral and adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors results in persistent gene expression without adverse effects up to 5 years post-fetal delivery. Findings support the potential for fetal gene transfer to be developed into a durable therapeutic modality for the treatment of disease, and that route and timing are crucial for obtaining high levels of expression in desired cells and tissues with limited biodistribution.
- Developed novel in vivo imaging techniques to monitor gene expression in monkeys that provide new ways to address safety, long-term gene expression, longitudinal findings in individual animals, and translational applications for humans.
- Showed age-related differences for a variety of stem and progenitor cell populations (e.g., hematopoietic, endothelial, mesenchymal) that suggest immature cell sources have the greatest proliferative potential and may be the most effective for regenerative medicine purposes.
- Showed high levels of multilineage engraftment without conditioning of human stem and progenitor cells after in utero transplantation.
- Developed new techniques for radiolabeling stem/progenitor cells for PET imaging providing unique insights into the niche, and new ways to study stem and progenitor cell trafficking with direct application for humans.
Unique Components of the Research Program in the RSRM Unit include: