2018: The Fifth Year of Campion Fund Awards to Junior Scientists

02/19/2018 by Campion Fund

Awards to junior scientists presenting excellent work at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Triangle Consortium for Reproductive Biology were made at the February 10, 2018 meeting held at NIEHS. The Selection Committee, headed by Mitch Eddy, PhD, faced a challenge because the many presentations were outstanding. The winner of the Award for the oral presentation was Margeaux Wetendorf, a member of Kathleen Caron’s Laboratory at University of North Carolina. Her presentation “Cigarette Smoke-exposed Adrenomedullin High Mice Exhibit Abnormal Placenta and Delayed Embryonic Development”. Adrenomedullin promotes placental development and remodeling of uterine spiral arteries by the recruitment of specialized immune cells, uterine natural killer cells. The proper amount or dose of adrenomedullin in this process is not completely elucidated. Cigarette smoke increases adrenomedullin in humans and mice. The hypothesis tested by Wetendorf is that amplified adrenomedullin using smoke exposure in a genetic mouse model negatively influences placental development and overall fetal heath. She studied female mice with high adrenomedullin. They were mated and after evidence of gestation by observing a copulatory plug the mice were either exposed to cigarette smoke or sham treated for 13 days. When the embryos and placentas were examined she found that placentas from smoke exposed mice had a compact structure, large maternal decidua, starved fetal labyrinth zone and a large accumulation of uterine killer cells. The embryos were small compared to the sham treated mice. Thus, excess adrenomedullin and uterine killer cells in a mouse with high adrenomedullin results in placental malformation and impaired fetal growth. This study helps with the understanding of how adrenomedullin dose and uterine killer cell function and provides information that can be used in developing effective treatment for women with pregnancy disorders such as preeclampsia and disorders due to maternal cigarette smoking.


Margeaux Wetendorf, UNC-CH receives Campion Fund Award from Phyllis C. Leppert on February 10, 2018




The Award for the Poster presentation was given to J. Tyler Ramsey, from Ken Korach’s Laboratory at NIEHS. His poster was entitled “Steroid Receptor Hormonal Activity of Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Components”. He conducted numerous studies to determine the activity of component chemicals in these two oils. Prepubertal boys who use these oils regularly develop gynecomastia or enlarged breasts. Lavender oil and tea tree oil are available over the counter and are thought to reduce stress, aid sleep and mitigate effects of many human diseases. Previously, the Korach Lab demonstrated that these two oils act as hormonal agonists though ER (estrogen receptor) and are antagonists of AR (androgen receptor). Ramsey’s study evaluated eight component chemicals in the oils (Eucalyptol, 4-Terpineol, Dipentene/Limonene, α-Terpineol, Linalyl Acetate, Linalool, α-Terpinene, γ-Terpinene) for estrogen and anti-androgen activity. All eight chemicals induced endogenous ER target genes, GREB1 (growth regulator in breast cancer) and CTSD cathepsin D in MCF-7 cells. Using HepG2 cells transfected with ERα (estrogen receptor alpha) and ERE (estrogen response element) reporter plasmids Ramsey observed that all the chemicals except Eucalyptol induced ERα/ERE mediated activity. When these ERα/ERE transfected cells were co-transfected with ER coactivator Eucalyptol induced much greater ERE-medicated activity. Changes in the AR target genes were measured in MDA-kb2 cells. When treated with the eight chemicals and co-treated with testosterone, Linalyl Acetate, Linalool, 4-Terpineol and α-Terpineol significantly downregulated four androgen receptor target genes, CYP4F8 (cytochrome P450 Family 4 Subfamily F Member 8), UGT2B28 (UDP glucuronosyltransferase, Family 2, Member 28), SEC14L2 (SEC14 Like Lipid Binding) and C1orf116 (chromosome 1 open reading frame 116). Specifically, Eucalyptol downregulated all genes except CYP4F8. Dipentene/Limonene downregulated only CYP4F8 and SEC14L2. These two genes were also downregulated with γ-Terpinene, while α-Terpineol downregulated only SEC14L2. Reporter Assays conducted in the MDA-kb2 cells showed that anti-androgenic properties with all chemical components except Eucalyptol. Thus, the eight chemicals studied are endocrine disruptor chemicals. This study contributes to the understanding of clinical relevant mammary gland conditions involving hormonal endocrine disruptors.


J Tyler Ramsey, NIEHS Shortly after accepting the Best Poster Campion Fund Award from Phyllis C. Leppert on February 10, 2018.




The TCRB Program Committee, Chris Geyer, Chair, gave Travel Awards to Barbara Nicol, NIEHS, for her presentation ” RUNX and FOXL2 Play Synergistic Roles in Maintaining the Identity of Fetal Granulosa Cells in Mice and to Anika Dzierlenga, NIEHS, for the poster, “Preliminary prenatal CD-1 mouse developmental toxicity studies with the HIV antiretroviral combination therapy tenofir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), emtricitabine (FTC) and efavirenz (EFV) alone and in combination: suggestions of a drug-drug interaction? ”



Travel Award recipients with Chris Geyer.




Past Awardees:

2017: Xiaoquin Wang, Brook C. Matson, Kathryn McClelland,

2016: Samuel S. Pendergraft, Fei Zhou

2015: Alisa Suen, Kristin Upson

2014: Shannon Whirledge, Chang Liu