About the Reproductive Sciences and Regenerative Medicine Unit

Unit Core Scientists contribute to the CNPRC mission through NIH-supported research programs and peer-reviewed publications; services to the  greater research community in Cores, NIH-supported Centers, and outreach programs; and by enhancing the nonhuman primate resource through model development, innovative in vivo imaging paradigms, and assisting with the management of the nonhuman primate colonies. Core Scientists mentor the next generation of investigators in the use of nonhuman primate models for human health and disease, and serve as collaborative hubs and in the formation of multidisciplinary partnerships and teams. Core Scientists have leadership positions in the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center, School of Medicine Stem Cell Program, Center for Health and the Environment, and Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging. Unit scientists bring their unique expertise and strong track records to collaborative multidisciplinary partnerships that converge on studies focused on early disease onset (e.g., viral teratogens, environmental agents, role of the immune system); regenerative medicine (e.g., stem cell transplantation, tissue engineering), gene therapy, and genome editing; lifespan health–from the earliest developmental stages to aging populations; in vivo imaging technologies for precision medicine; and preclinical and investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies for clinical translation. The depth and breadth of expertise, accomplishments, and services of the Unit scientists contribute substantially to the CNPRC mission, significantly enhance the resource, and ensure that investigators nationwide have the guidance and collaborative opportunities necessary to conduct innovative state-of-the-art investigations with nonhuman primates at the highest quality level for solving significant human health problems.  

Focus on Lifespan HealthMonkeys and humans share many reproductive and developmental features that emphasize their importance as translational models. The unique expertise in the Unit provides a means to address research questions associated with all developmental stages (embryo, fetus, newborn, infant), juveniles; young adults; pre-menopausal/transitional reproductive stages; and advanced geriatrics.

Pompe Disease

Studies have been instrumental in achieving the overall goal of utilizing adeno-associated virus (AAV) expression of human acid alpha-glucosidase for Pompe patients, leading to new clinical trials including for 3-14 year-old patients that are ventilator dependent.

Research Accomplishments in Reproductive Sciences and Regenerative Medicine

  • Developed models for reproductive toxicology including environmental exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and effects of binge alcohol consumption
  • Showed that fetal bisphenol A (BPA) 
exposure at levels similar to those measured in humans can potentially cause reproductive problems that may not emerge for a generation
  • Demonstrated that ovarian steroids can change both the structure and function of the adrenal glands, which may explain differences in menopausal symptoms and health trajectories in middle-aged women
  • Developed new tissue engineering approaches to regenerate kidneys damaged by obstructive renal disease
  • Facilitated a development plan for studies in young monkeys to support IND applications for treating children with Pompe disease
  • Assessed safety and gene transfer efficiency of a lentiviral vector in fetal and juvenile monkeys. These studies were critical in gaining approval for an IND application and conducting the first-in-human trial of an expressed siRNA in a lentiviral vector
  • Established novel in vivo imaging tools to monitor gene expression long-term, and showed high levels of reporter gene expression with no adverse effects up through ~15 years of age when organ-targeted fetal gene transfer approaches were used
  • Synthesized new radioimmunoconjugates using radioactive copper (64Cu) and zirconium (89Zr) for cell and viral trafficking, and optimized radiolabeling methods to identify engrafted human cells in the rhesus host
  • Showed multilineage engraftment after fetal transplantation of cytokine expanded human cord blood CD34+ cells. These findings are significant because they have shown human cells in the rhesus host that persist over time and without pre-transplant conditioning. Bioluminescence imaging has revolutionized monitoring engraftment and the induction of tolerance to transplanted cells.
  • Leveraged the fetal rhesus CMV model (in collaboration with Infectious Diseases colleagues) to rapidly respond to the need to understand the viral teratogen, Zika virus, and Congenital Zika Syndrome
  • Novel techniques for precision primate models using gene editing (e.g., pre-implantation embryos, somatic cell models with established pregnancies, therapeutic somatic cells)
  • Development and application of translational total-body PET imaging for nonhuman primate research and human protocol development
  • Improved and characterized detection limits for tracking radiolabeled stem/progenitor cells with PET

NHLBI Primate Center for Gene Therapy

The NHLBI Primate Center for Gene Therapy provides collaborative opportunities to address crucial gaps, and accelerate new NIH grant submissions and IND applications. Read more.

Nonhuman Primate Testing Center for Evaluation of Somatic Cell Genome Editing Tools

The NIH Nonhuman Primate Testing Center for Evaluation of Somatic Cell Genome Editing Tools is a component of the  Common Fund Somatic Cell Genome Editing Consortium.

Translational Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Shared Research Facility (TSRF)

The UC Davis Stem Cell Program combines unique capabilities for stem cell research with training in diseases that might be prevented, reversed, or ameliorated by stem cell therapy. The TSRF is a state-wide service facility dedicated to the study of human stem and progenitor cells. The facility includes cell culture laboratories, flow cytometry and cell sorting, a molecular core, a histology core, controlled-rate cryopreservation and cell storage for cell lines and cell banks, and an infrastructure of experienced personnel to ensure efficient operation, to provide services, and for training and research guidance (www.tsrf.ucdavis.edu). To learn more about the TSRF, download a pdf here.

Reproductive Sciences and Regenerative Medicine Unit Publication Highlights