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Emilyn U. Alejandro, PhD is a McKnight Presidential Fellow and an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Biology and Physiology at the University of Minnesota Medical School in the twin cities. Dr. Alejandro received her BS degree, in Biochemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle, and her PhD degree in Physiology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Since starting off in research, she has always been interested in understanding how growth factors and nutrients integrate signals to promote cellular growth and function in normal physiology or in disease context of type 2 diabetes. Her team combines integrative approaches to study the novel role of nutrient-sensor proteins (mTOR and OGT) in the placenta and pancreas to understand how the insulin-producing beta-cells grow and remain functional and healthy. Her team’s goal is to ultimately predict individuals who are at risk for diabetes and improve clinical interventions for existing patients. With the support of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney (NIDDK), The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, her team is shedding new light on the fetal origins of pancreatic- β-cell dysfunction, obesity, and diabetes. She mentors undergraduate, doctoral, and post-doctoral trainees. She has a national and international reputation evidenced by speaking invitations, service on conference planning committees and an editorial board and invitations to serve on NIH study sections and NIH CSR Council. She was awarded McKnight Land-Grant Professorship in 2019 and McKnight Presidential Fellow and the UMN Council of Graduate Students Outstanding Advisor Award in 2021. Dr. Alejandro is the APS Henry Pickering Bowditch Lectureship Awardee for 2022. Outside of her research work and mentoring her trainees, Dr. Alejandro enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters and watching her girls play ice hockey and traveling exploring local and global attractions. For additional information, please visit her webpage.
Dr. Danielle Christifano, PhD is an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition. Her research focuses on the intersection of nutrition and lifestyle in maternal and child health, especially as it relates to fetal and infant neurodevelopment. She teaches courses in maternal and child nutrition and international nutrition for the master's degree program and mentors students completing their masters and/or PhD. She enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, and camping with her family in her free time. For additional information, please visit her webpage
Dr. Mina Desai, MS, PhD is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Director of Perinatal Research at The Lundquist Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She graduated from Maharaja Sayaijirao University in Baroda, India (BS, MS). She did her PhD and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, United Kingdom and later joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harbor-UCLA. She is also the Director of Perinatal Research at The Lundquist Institute (formerly known as Los Angeles Biomedical Research Center). She is a recipient of a numerous awards including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Cambridge Commonwealth Scholarship, University of Cambridge Overseas Research Students Award, Perinatal Research Society Award and the Richard E. Weitzman Memorial Award. Dr. Desai has served as an appointed member of NIH/NIDDK IPOD study section and is currently an Associate Editor for the Cambridge University Press Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and Chair of Advisory Committee and Co-Chair of Admission Committee for PhD Graduate Program at The Lundquist Institute. She also serves as a Faculty Advisor for The Lundquist Summer Student Fellowship Program. Her research focuses on Developmental Origins of Adult Obesity that include both humans and animal studies. She has expertise in molecular and cellular techniques, neural and adipocyte stem cells, epigenetic, gene expression and cellular signaling paradigms. She has over 100 peer reviewed publications, 300 published abstracts, 20 review articles and eleven book chapters. Her research is funded by National Institute of Health, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and March of Dimes. For more information, please visit her webpage.
Dr. Suzanne Fenton, PhD Group Leader, Reproductive Endocrinology, NTP Labs, Division of the National Toxicology Program, NIEHS/NIH. Dr. Fenton has been leading developmental origins of health and disease (DoHaD) research within the federal government for more than 20 years. She has published over 100 papers on chemical exposure measurements or their associated health effects in animal research models, cell cultures and humans. Her other interests include mentoring trainees and young faculty members, committee service for the Teratology Society (now Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention) and Society of Toxicology, serving as an Associate editor for Environmental Health Perspectives and a reviewer for numerous other journals. For more information, please visit her webpage.
Dr. Folami Ideraabdullah, PhD is an Associate Professor of Genetics in the UNC School of Medicine with a joint appointment in the Gillings School of Global Public Health Nutrition Department and an affiliate membership with the UNC Nutrition Research Institute. She serves as Co-Director of the UNC Developmental Disease group within the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS), as a Council member for the US Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Society (US DOHaD), and as a Board of Directors member for the Genetics Society of America (GSA). Her lab uses environmental mouse models and human biospecimens to study how the fetal/developmental environment programs the trajectory of health & disease across the lifespan. The primary focus is to understand how these events are regulated by changes to the epigenome during developmental epigenetic programming. The secondary focus is to understand the role of genotype in driving susceptibility. This work has been instrumental in showing diet & pesticide exposure during pregnancy drives programming of offspring germ and somatic cell epigenomes, and the key role of parental genotype in modulating this response. These findings support the key tenets of DOHaD while highlighting the importance of Precision Nutrition. Support for this research comes from NIH grants to our lab [KES023849A & R21DK122242], collaborative grants [U42-OD010924], and pilots [P30ES013508, P30ES010126, P30DK056350]. For more information, please visit her webpage
Dr. Robert Lane, MD, MBA is currently the physician-in-chief and an executive vice-president at Children’s Mercy. Dr. Lane earned his undergraduate degree and medical degree at the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University Medical School respectively. He next performed his residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago). Dr. Lane then did a Neonatal – Perinatal Medicine Fellowship. His clinical training occurred in the Northwestern University Medical School system, and his research training was performed at the University of Chicago under the aegis of the Pediatric Scientist Training Program, which is an NIH sponsored program. Dr. Lane then moved through the ranks to full tenured professor at Northwestern University Medical School, the University of Pittsburgh, UCLA and the University of Utah respectively. He held many roles has he moved through the ranks including Neonatology – Perinatology fellowship director, Vice-Chair of Research and Division Chief of Neonatology. Dr. Lane also received NIH funding, served as President of the international Perinatal Research Society and earned his Master’s in Healthcare Management during this time. Dr. Lane subsequently became Chair of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief in 2013 at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Wisconsin. He rose to the rank of Associate Dean of Research during his tenure in Wisconsin, and he became President of the United States Developmental Origin of Health and Disease society while maintaining his NIH funding. Dr. Lane finally moved to Kansas City in January of 2020 assume his current role. While in this role, Dr. Lane’s laboratory continues to operate with stalwarts Dr. Fu and Dr. Xe, who have been with him since his UCLA days. For more information, please visit his webpage.
Dr. Cheryl Rosenfeld, DMV, PhD was awarded a DVM degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1995. She completed her PhD studies in Reproductive Biology at the University of Missouri in 2000. She is currently a full Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Missouri. Dr. Rosenfeld is also a Bond Life Sciences Center Investigator and a research faculty member in the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurobehavioral Disorders, Genetics Area Program, and MU Institute for Data Science and Informatics. Dr. Rosenfeld’s laboratory studies how endocrine disrupting chemicals, including bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS) and pharmaceutical agents, namely oxycodone, affect the placenta-brain axis by suppressing placental production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Early brain development depends upon placental-derived serotonin and other neurotransmitters. To understand further the paracrine and neural effects of placental-derived neurotransmitters, Dr. Rosenfeld’s laboratory uses various transgenic models, such as Slc6a4/SERT knockout mice. She is the current President of the U.S. DOHaD Society. For more information, please visit her webpage.
Dr. Michael Ross, MD, MPH is Distinguished Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA School of Public Health. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS), Harvard Medical School (MD) and Harvard School of Public Health (MPH). Dr. Ross completed Ob/Gyn residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Maternal Fetal Medicine fellowship at Harbor-UCLA and Cedars Sinai Medical Centers. Dr. Ross served as Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center from 1996-2011. He has over 300 peer reviewed publications, 700 published abstracts, six textbooks and numerous print and electronic book chapters. Dr. Ross is the Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (Cambridge University Press) as well as a member of the Editorial Boards of Reproductive Sciences and the Journal of Maternal, Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. He is a recognized expert in fetal physiology and clinical obstetrics, including topics of interpretation of fetal heart rate patterns, shoulder dystocia, abnormalities of amniotic fluid volume and the developmental origins of adult obesity. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, March of Dimes, United Cerebral Palsy, American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association. For more information, please visit his webpage.
Dr. Phu Tran, PhD is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on iron-dependent epigenetic mechanisms underlying the long-term neural gene dysregulation due to early-life iron deficiency, which is a number one micronutrient worldwide, affecting approximately 30-35% pregnant women and preschool age children, that results in long-term neurocognitive impairment and socio-behavioral abnormality despite prompt treatment. For more information, please visit his webpage.
Dr. Kaela Varberg, PhD is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in the laboratory of Dr. Michael J. Soares. Dr. Varberg's current line of research is aimed at identifying key factors and molecular mechanisms driving extravillous trophoblast cell lineage development in hemochorial placentation. She completed her PhD in Cellular & Integrative Physiology at Indiana University School of Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Laura S. Haneline. During her doctoral training, she investigated the impact of intrauterine maternal diabetes exposure on fetal vascular progenitor cell function. Outside of the lab, she is very passionate about professional development, networking, and leadership development. She has previously served as a trainee member on the US DOHaD Society Council.
Dr. Elizabeth Martin, PhD Elizabeth Martin, Ph.D. is a Principle Investigator within the Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory at the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) where she directs a research program focused on understanding epigenetic programming as a mechanism for the DOHaD. Her program specifically seeks to understand how phthalate exposure during pregnancy may alter normal developmental epigenetic programs resulting in altered disease risk in mothers. Her transdisciplinary research program utilizes molecular biology tools including next generation sequencing methodologies and systems biology approaches to study complex toxicological questions across in vitro cell systems, in vivo mouse models and human populations. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in Dr. Rebecca Fry’s lab, where she worked to understand metabolic alterations in response to arsenic exposure, as well as sexually dimorphic prenatal exposure responses. Following this, she completed a one-year translation postdoctoral fellowship in the UNC Curriculum in Toxicology, with Dr. Shaun McCullough’s group, where she investigated how epigenetic markers can influence susceptibility to air pollution. She then joined Dr. Paul Wade’s lab at NIEHS where she investigated the role of progesterone receptor activity in epigenetic reprogramming and breast cancer risk. She has been awarded the Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) fellowship sponsored by the National Institute of General Medicine (NIGMS) and the NIH Independent Research Scholar Fellowship. For more information, please visit her webpage.