- Dr. Phyllis Leppert, MD, PhD, and Dr. Friederike Jayes, PhD, DVM, of Duke University
The Leppert Foundation has three main goals:
1) To provide peer-reviewed grants to research universities and allocated to qualified scientists through the Campion Fund
Topics for each year will be selected jointly by the Board of Directors and the Scientific Advisory Board. The topic will be announced in April and grant proposals will be accepted through October. We will also give two awards to the best presentations given by junior investigators at each annual meeting of the Triangle Consortium for Reproductive Biology (TCRB) on March 8th, 2014. These awards will be given to the investigator’s institutions to be allocated to them.
2) To host an annual conference for the scientific community
“Mechanotransduction in the Reproductive Tract” is the topic for our next conference, October 14–15, 2014, at the Washington Duke Inn, Durham, North Carolina. Plenary Speakers will be: Rocky Tuan, University of Pittsburgh; James H. Segars, NICHD; Janice Evans, Johns Hopkins; Stephen Lye, University of Toronto; and Farshid Guilak, Duke University. Registration will open in April 2014. Abstract submission deadline is August 15, 2014. The proceedings of this meeting will be published.
3) To provide education regarding fertility research to the public
Areas of Translational Research
- uterine fibroids
- polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Peyronie’s Disease
- benign prostatic hypertrophy
- other causes of male and female infertility
- inherited genetic disease
Areas of Basic Research
- gene expression and epigenetics
- organogenesis of the reproductive tracts
- steroid hormone regulation
- growth and apoptosis in reproductive tissue
- ligands and receptors
The Phyllis and Mark Leppert Foundation for Fertility Research, a 501 (c ) (3) public charity, was founded to promote basic biomedical research on diseases that affect the human reproductive system. The Campion Fund is funded through tax-deductible donations to the Foundation.
Male Fertility and Reproductive Biology:
Impact on the Health of Men and their Children
The Campion Fund’s mission is to educate the general public as well as scientists about reproductive biology and to call attention to areas that we think have been ignored. This is why we focused on uterine fibroids. Although we will still be interested in promoting research on uterine fibroids, we are adding a new focus. Now, we are concerned that reproduction in males and the impact of reproductive processes on the health of men and their children has not received the attention it deserves.
Over the next two years the Campion Fund will be concentrating efforts on male reproduction. We are compelled to focus our energy on men’s reproductive health. The reasons are clear: First, science is discovering that the health of fathers and thus the health of their sperm have significant impact on human embryo and fetal development during pregnancy and thus on the health of newborn infants. Even more important is the aftereffect of a father’s health on his children later in their adulthood. These discoveries demonstrate that the health of a father has a lasting influence on the health of the next generation. Second, studies are pointing to the fact that the reproductive health of men is tied to their health in general throughout their lives.
Science is dynamic. As new discoveries are made scientific knowledge and understanding are constantly revised. The science an individual learns in high school and college is a foundation; but a foundation that needs to be constantly updated. This is true for all professionals such as nurses and doctors and it is true for the public. The Campion Fund therefore plans to promote educational programs on male reproductive health and how it affects offspring. We will explore how a man’s eating habits and nutrition “rocks” the health of any child he conceives. We will explore the effect of the environment, especially chemical exposures from industry, agriculture, the military, and air pollution on the health of men and their children. Air pollution has been shown to decrease sperm motility, one indication that these sperm are not a vigorous or as healthy as they can be. Alcohol and nicotine—“booze and cigarettes” have impacts on the children of men who abuse these substances.
Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in the expression of genes that are not caused by changes in DNA sequences (the double-helix). Epigenetic changes occur due to alterations in the cell environment by modification of DNA by the addition or subtraction of organic chemical structures (methyl groups) or modification of structures associated with DNA called histones. These alterations of the cells in the body, especially in the testes, can change the expression of genes. In other words the cellular environment can change whether or not a gene is turned on or off. These changes can be due to malnutrition, chemical exposures and other environmental factors. The turning on or off of genes at inappropriate times during development can alter the growth of the human embryo and fetus. As an individual ages and grows older epigenetic changes occur more frequently. In fact, age-induced changes in sperm are greater than the age-induced changes in other cells of the body. The effects of a father’s age when he conceives a child are much more subtle that the effects of age of the mother on offspring, but they are concerning. In developed countries the age of fathers is increasing. As an example, we know the percentage of men aged 35-54 at the time of conception of their children increased from 25% to 40% in the United Kingdom in a ten year period (1988-2008). Thus it is important that scientists study the effect of paternal age at conception has on the health of children.
The Campion Fund plans to highlight these and other scientific findings during the next two years. To start our initiative we have planned a scientific meeting on Male Fertility to be held at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in October, 2017, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Phyllis C. Leppert, MD, PhD, Durham, NC
Mark F. Leppert, PhD, Salt Lake City, UT
Tami Leppert, PhD, Salt Lake City, UT
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD
Sarah Berga, MD, Winston-Salem, NC
Nancy Kellett, RN, MPH, Salisbury, CT
James H. Segars, MD, Bethesda, MD
Hugh Taylor, MD, New Haven, CT
Humphrey Yao, PhD, Research Triangle Park, NC
FINANCIAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL CONSULTANTS
Lisa Jones, Evansville, IN
William Kellett, Salisbury, CT
Gary Leppert, Columbus, OH
Susan Allender, Durham, NC
Haywood Brown, Durham, NC
Phillip Cato, Potomac, MD
Kathryn Daily, Durham, NC
John Daily, Durham NC,
Louane Frey, Cary, NC
William Hackney, Pittsboro, NC
Friederike Jayse, Cary, NC
Kathyrn McClelland, RTP , NC
Lisa Muasher, Chapel Hill, NC
Suheil Muasher, Chapel Hill, NC
David Schomberg, Hillsboro, NC
Darlene Taylor, Burlington, NC
Michelle Wolff, Durham, NC
The Campion Fund 990 Form can be found here.