Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Duncan Lab

The Ovarian Contraceptive Discovery Initiative

Enabling Reproductive Intentions

A significant barrier to discovering novel contraceptive agents that target ovulation and fertilization-associated processes is a lack of robust systems for exploring the biology of these processes in a sophisticated manner, particularly with respect to target validation and demonstrating translational potential. The Ovarian Contraceptive Discovery Initiative expands on the current contraceptive research portfolio at Northwestern University to reinforce ongoing activities, bring in new genetic approaches and biological model systems, and access and optimize translational studies to enable decision making on specific molecules, mechanisms, and targets. This expansion provides a comprehensive and enduring biological platform to support the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's broader work in female contraceptive discovery.

The Ovarian Contraceptive Discovery Initiative supports the development and deployment of an optimized platform for follicle biology and follicle/oocyte-targeted discovery. This multi-institutional initiative includes PIs Shuo Xiao, PhD (Rutgers University), Francesca E. Duncan, PhD (Northwestern University), Amander Clark, PhD (UCLA), and Alex Shalek, PhD (Ragon Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital). Using systems that represent the state-of- the-art technologies, we will identify novel contraceptive hits through new biological pathways and study them through follicles cultured individually or in a mouse mimic (the microfluidic LATTICE platform), oocytes matured in vitro, and iPS derived mouse and human follicles. Francesca Duncan serves as the overall PI of the Ovarian Contraceptive Discovery Initiative.

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PROJECT MANAGEMENT & TECHNOLOGY DISSEMINATION CORE

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PROJECTS

 

NEWS

September 2022

August 2022

 

July 2022

  • OCDI members attended and presented at the SSR 55th Annual Meeting in Spokane, WA during July 25-29, 2022!
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    • Dr. Amander Clark gave a talk titled, "Regenerating the Human Germline from Skin Punch Biopsies"
    • Dr. Elnur Babayev presented a poster as a finalist for the post-doctoral competition titled, "Cumulus Cell Expansion and Extracellular Matrix Integrity are Impaired with Advanced Reproductive Age". Congratulations Elnur on receiving third place in the post-doctoral competition!
    • Daniela Russo presented TWO posters: (1) "Validation of single follicle transcriptomic data to characterize primordial to primary follicle activation" and (2) "Identifying novel contraceptive drug targets using single-cell RNA sequencing"
    • Dr. Jiyang Zhang gave a talk titled, "A 3D in vitro follicle growth system preserves molecular signatures of gonadotropin-dependent folliculogensis and enables the identification of ovarian toxicants"
    • Emily Zaniker presented a poster as a finalist for the pre-doctoral competition titled, "Spatial Asymmetry in the Molecular Determinants of Ovarian Follicle Rupture". Congratulations Emily on receiving second place in the pre-doctoral competition!
  • A new OCDI publication:
    Suebthawinkul C, Babayev E, Zhou LT, Lee HC, Duncan FE  Quantitative morphokinetic parameters identify novel dynamics of oocyte meiotic maturation and cumulus expansion.  Biol Reprod  2022 Jul 08;. pii:ioac139

 

June 2022

  • Emily Zaniker from project 2 presented a poster titled, "Investigating spatial asymmetry in the molecular determinants of ovarian follicle rupture for non-hormonal contraceptive discovery" at the 2022 GLC ASPET 35th Annual Meeting on Friday June 17, 2022 at Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL.
    • Many congratulations to Emily for being awarded 1st place in the graduate level poster competition!
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May 2022

  • Members from project 2 had a great time presenting at the 2022 CRS Summit: Frontiers in Reproductive Science and Medicine!
    • Chana Suebthawinkul presented an oral talk titled, "Mouse strains with natural variations in mean lifespan exhibit differences in oocyte morphological parameters and morphokinetic dynamics of meiotic maturation. Congratulations to Chana on receiving a prize for her talk!
    • Hoi Chang Lee presented a poster titled, "Morphokinetic parameters of mouse egg activation and embryo development by ionomycin and SrCl2 use EmbryoScope+".
    • Caroline Kratka presented a poster titled, "Pharmacologic inhibition of proprotein convertases alters the behavior of cumulus cells during mouse in vitro maturation".
    • Tracy Zhou presented a poster titled, "Towards germ cell-specific in vivo genome editing: generating transgenic mice that express oocyte-specific Cas9".
    • Emily Zaniker presented a poster titled, "Investigating spatial asymmetry in the molecular determinants of ovarian follicle rupture for non-hormonal contraceptive discovery".
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  • Daniela Russo from project 4 presented a poster titled, "Identifying novel contraceptive targets using single-cell RNA sequencing" at the Probing Human Disease Using Single-Cell Technologies Conference; May 13-16, 2022; Cancun, Mexico. Many congratulations to Daniela for also winning a poster prize as well!
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April 2022

  • Daniela Russo from project 4 presented a talk titled, "Validation of single follicle transcriptomic data to characterize primordial to secondary follicle development" at the NIH Contraceptive Research and Development Meeting on April 7, 2022
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February 2022

December 2021

  • The OCDI team presented multiple posters and oral presentations at the SSR 54th Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO during December 15-18, 2021!
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    • Dr. Shuo Xiao presented a poster as well as an oral presentation
    • Jiyang Zhang presented a poster titled, "Mouse Ovarian Follicles from Encapsulated In Vitro Follicle Growth (eIVFG) Preserve Molecular Signatures of Mammalian Ovulation"
    • Tracy Zhou gave the following oral presentation titled, "3D-printed agarose molds compatible with microphysiologic integration enable in vitro maturation of mouse oocytes in size specific indentations"
    • Dr. Chana Suebthawinkul presented a poster titled, "Morphokinetic parameters of meiotic maturation and cumulus expansion are similar between euploid and aneuploid eggs from reproductively young mice"
    • Emily Zaniker presented a poster titled, "Transcriptomic Profiling of the Spatial Determinants of Follicle Rupture During In Vitro Ovulation"

November 2021

  • Dr. Britt Goods of project 4 presented at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation during the "Optimizing Drug Discovery & Translation" session.
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July 2021

  • The OCDI team presented at the 2021 SSR Solving Challenges in Contraceptive Discovery and Innovation Series!
    • Below is a summary of our representation at SSR and a few snapshots of OCDI members.
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  • Francesca E. Duncan, PhD (Project 2 PI), Shuo Xiao, PhD (Project 4 PI), and Amander Clark, PhD (Project 3 PI) participated in the Global Health Integrated Organoid Convening July 13-14, 2021.
  • A new publication: "A novel platform utilizing Drosophila ovulation for non-hormonal contraceptive screening"
    • This publication involved multiple members of the Ovarian Contraceptive Discovery Initiative from project 1.
    • Read the article here!

June 2021

  • We presented our work titled, "Ex vivo ovulation as a path towards non-hormonal ovarian contraceptive discovery” as a part of the Gates Foundation Discovery Scientific Series, June 3rd, 2021 (virtual).

May 2021

  • Dr. Duncan gave the following talk, "Ovarian Contraceptive Discovery Initiative: Enabling Reproductive Intentions" at the Spring 2021 Nonhormonal Contraceptive Discovery Program that took place on May 19-20, 2021 (virtual).

April 2021

  • OCDI members from Project 3, Dr. Francesca E. Duncan, and Dr. Shuo Xiao participated in the Engineering Organoids and Organs Cell Symposia Express and the COC/follicle isolation and culture meeting on April 26, 2021 (virtual).

January 2021

  • A new publication: "Dental resins used in 3D printing technologies release ovo-toxic leachates"
    • This publication involved multiple members of the Ovarian Contraceptive Discovery Initiative and was partially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    • Read the press release and journal article!
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  • Check out the press release from our UCLA collaborators!
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November 2020

October 2020

  • Congratulations to Britt Goods on receiving a poster award for SSR's virtual symposia!
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  • We are absolutely thrilled to launch this program on contraceptive research and
    discovery!! The Ovarian Contraceptive Discovery Initiative Kick Off Meeting took place
    October 22, 2020
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  • We participated in the Society for the Study of Reproduction's virtual symposia titled, "Solving Challenges in Contraceptive Discovery and Innovation"!
    • Dr. Duncan co-chaired the session on October 14, 2020 titled, "Non-Hormonal Female Contraceptive Strategies"
    • Dr. Xiao presented the following talk, "3D In Vitro Follicle Culture as an Effective Model for Contraceptive Discovery" on October 14, 2020
    • Jiyang Zhang presented the following talk, "Mouse Ovarian Follicles from Encapsulated In Vitro Follicle Growth (eIVFG) Preserve Ovulation Molecular Signatures In Vivo"

OCDI Open Positions, Join Our Team!

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Senior Life Sciences Researcher

Learn more at https://careers.northwestern.edu/and search job ID 43403!