The ability of a scientist to answer biological questions is often only as good as the tools that are available to them.

Most advances in science first require the development of tools that allow researchers to follow more precise or informative lines of inquiry. For example, the development of modern sequencing tools has unlocked the ability for scientists to ask questions that were previously impossible. The science of reproductive longevity has not received as much funding or attention as many other fields of biomedicine, so the tools available are lacking. Our grantees are building powerful new tools that will lay the foundation for accelerated innovation into reproductive longevity.

GCRLE Grantee projects

Dr Coleen Murphy: Currently it is not possible for a woman to know where she stands on this timeline of age-related reproductive decline, as existing diagnostic tools are largely based on guesswork from highly generalized studies. The Murphy lab is developing a diagnostic tool that would serve as a ‘clock’ for female reproductive decline. Medical professionals could use this clock to more accurately determine whether therapeutics intended to extend reproductive longevity are working. Such an early detection system could also lower maternal age-related birth defect rates, pregnancy complications, and allow women to make more informed decisions about their reproductive lives.

Dr Berenice Benayoun: A model system that accurately reflects a disease or phenomenon observed in humans is essential for the development of new therapeutics. Although laboratory mouse models show some decreased reproductive capacity with aging, they are poor models of menopause, as they do not have an extended life period after the end of fertility or go through the major hormonal and biological changes that occur in humans. Better rodent models of menopause would be an invaluable tool for scientists studying reproductive aging. To address this unmet need, the Benayoun lab is characterizing and comparing three different potential models of menopause in rodents. Their work should help establish which mouse models are most relevant for human research and in which contexts, amplifying the impact of any past, present, and future mouse studies in reproductive longevity.

Dr Amanda Kallen: Dr Kallen’s team is creating a comprehensive atlas of cellular expression patterns over the course of aging in human ovaries. This will be the first database to provide a combination of spatial and temporal gene expression information of human reproductive tissue on a cellular level. Together, these datasets will allow researchers to determine how and where aging occurs in human ovaries.