Global Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality
Supporting breakthrough research on reproductive aging and women in science through funding, training, infrastructure and collaborative intellectual networks.
With the intramural establishment of the Center for Reproductive Longevity and Equality (CRLE), the Buck Institute has pioneered the first facility that focuses solely on female aging as it relates to equality. Now, through the generous support of the Bia Echo Foundation, the Global Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality (GCRLE), launched as an extramural start-up initiative through the Buck Institute.
The GCRLE is advancing research to better understand the underlying causes of female reproductive aging. The end of fertility sets off a cascade of negative health effects in a woman’s body. As a society, every aspect of a woman’s life is influenced by the fact that reproductive capacity is limited — overall health, family planning, career decisions. Despite its profound impact on health and well-being, female reproductive aging is an understudied topic.
Through funding, collaboration, and innovation, we intend to accelerate the pace of discovery and inform the path to intervention. We believe we can profoundly alter the societal balance toward equality for women by defining what leads to menopause and developing interventions to slow or reverse it. Our goal is to build the field to understand the basic biological mechanisms that trigger female reproductive senescence, from the earliest stages through to menopause, and ultimately leverage this understanding to intervene and balance the scales.
We’ve just awarded our first grants to an amazing group of scientists!
Peruse our White Paper detailing how reproductive longevity and equality affects us all!
We are building a network communications platform to foster dialogue and collaboration among researchers working on female reproductive aging.
The window for submitting applications has closed.
2020 Inaugural Grants were awarded in four categories:
Senior Faculty Awards – to support established investigators who are thought leaders in their fields and are recognized for substantial contributions of creative and productive research. We will seek to complement other major funders of research by placing emphasis on projects that may not be supported by traditional sources because of their perceived novelty or high risk, or because the investigator is moving into female reproductive aging from a different research area.
Junior Faculty Awards – to support newly independent investigators with outstanding promise when they are establishing their own labs and are malleable in the direction of their research. These awards will allow bright young scientists to pursue bold ideas when they are at their most scientifically creative.
Pilot Awards – to foster innovative collaborative or novel research projects that have the potential for high impact and high reward at an accelerated rate. These awards will allow collection of preliminary data to apply for larger grants.
Postdoctoral Fellowships – to increase the number of imaginative, well-trained junior scientists who will form the next generation of reproductive aging researchers. These awards will facilitate our efforts to build the field and provide both training and networking opportunities for trainees.
A Scientific Advisory Council composed of leaders in the field from all over the world reviews, identifies, and recommends the most promising grant applications based on quality of science, impact and alignment with the Consortium’s goals.
Details about the GCRLE Grant Review Process:
The 2020 grant review process followed strict protocols to ensure transparent, fair, and unbiased outcomes. Applications were scored by an independent Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) based on the quality of science, impact and alignment with the Consortium’s goals. To reduce implicit gender and institution biases, we implemented an innovative initial blind review step in which SAC members scored each application solely based on scientific merit without any identifying information, followed by a full unblind review. Final application scores were then reviewed and discussed by all committee members during an in-person video meeting and top applications unanimously voted for funding. Scientific Advisory Council members were recused from reviewing any applications with self-identified conflicts of interest, and did not review grant mechanisms for which they themselves, or their lab members, applied. Buck Institute Center for Reproductive Longevity and Equality Faculty chose not to apply for funding in the 2020 inaugural grant cycle and instead were invited to participate as SAC members.
2020 Scientific Advisory Council, Global Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality
Marcelle Cedars, MD University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Marcelle Cedars is the Director of the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health, the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and is a clinical specialist in the fields of in vitro fertilization, perimenopause and polycystic ovarian ovary syndrome (PCOS). As Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, she coordinates the relationship between science and research being done at UCSF and personalized care for medical center patients. Cedars received her medical training at the University of Texas Southwestern School Of Medicine, completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, and did her fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology at UCLA. Her clinical and research interests include ovarian aging, polycystic ovary syndrome and assisted reproduction. She is an NIH-funded researcher and has chaired the FDA panel on Obstetrical and Gynecological Devices and served as President of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
Yap Seng Chong, MD National University of Singapore
Professor Yap-Seng Chong has been the Dean of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, since 1 January 2019. He has also been the Executive Director of the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) since 2015. As a respected clinician and researcher with a profound interest in women’s health and early development, he is the Lead Principal Investigator of the National Research Foundation Translational and Clinical Research Flagship Program on the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. Yap-Seng is a Senior Consultant in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the National University Hospital (NUH), and a member of the Executive Group of the National University Health System (NUHS) as well as a board member of the National Medical Research Council. Yap-Seng has well over 300 peer-reviewed research publications covering topics like the genetic epidemiology of pregnancy-related disorders, intrapartum and postpartum management, natural childbirth, strategies to promote breastfeeding, and the developmental origins of health and disease. He has formed multiple academic and industry collaborations with a particular focus in the area of early human development and nutrition, with research grant funding of more than $100 million. For his efforts, Yap-Seng was awarded the National Outstanding Clinician Scientist Award by Singapore’s Ministry of Health in 2017.
Francesca Duncan, PhD Northwestern University
Francesca Duncan graduated from Haverford College with a BS in Biology and Biochemistry (2000) and earned her doctorate in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania (2006). She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Executive Director of the Center for Reproductive Science at Northwestern University. She is also an Assistant Professor in Residence at the Buck Institute in the Center for Reproductive Longevity and Equality. Research in the Duncan laboratory uses mammalian model systems to test the overarching hypothesis that deterioration of gamete-intrinsic cellular pathways together with changes in the ovarian microenvironment contribute to the reproductive age-associated decline in egg quantity and quality. The laboratory’s work is at the interface of reproductive aging and systemic aging; physiologic and iatrogenic reproductive aging; gamete, follicle, and ovarian biology; and reproductive science and medicine. Insights from this research will help design targeted interventions to ameliorate reproductive aging, laying the foundation to simultaneously improve female fertile-span and health-span across generations. Research in her lab is funded by NIH R01 and R21 awards. Dr. Duncan has 60 manuscripts in the peer-reviewed literature and has been featured in the press. She is the recipient of several honors and awards, including a 2017 Fulbright fellowship and the 2019 Society for the Study of Reproduction Virendra B. Mahesh New Investigator award.
Jennifer Garrison, PhD Buck Institute for Research on Aging
Jennifer Garrison, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Faculty Director of the Global Consortium for Female Reproductive Longevity and Equality, and co-Director of the Buck-USC Biology of Aging PhD Program. She holds secondary appointments in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC). Her research focuses on understanding how chemical communication between the brain and other tissues influences aging. The Garrison lab studies interactions between the ovary and brain during middle age to identify the neuronal factors that lead to the onset of reproductive decline. Dr. Garrison was named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Neuroscience Research Fellow and an Allen Institute for Brain Science Next Generation Leader and is the recipient of a Pathway to Independence Award and a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators from the National Institutes of Health, a Glenn Medical Foundation Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, and a Junior Faculty Award from the American Federation of Aging Research.
Marcia Haigis, PhD Harvard Medical School
Marcia C. Haigis is a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School. She obtained her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 2002 and performed postdoctoral studies at MIT studying mitochondrial metabolism and aging. Dr. Haigis is an active member of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging, and a member of the Ludwig Center at Harvard Medical School. In 2018, Dr. Haigis was selected for the National Academy of Medicine Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine Program. Her research aims to identify molecular mechanisms by which mitochondria respond to cellular stress and elucidate how these cellular mechanisms contribute to aging and age-related diseases, such as cancer.
Bluma Lesch, MD, PhD Yale University
Bluma (Bibi) Lesch is an Assistant Professor of Genetics at Yale School of Medicine. She received her PhD in Biological Sciences from Rockefeller University and her MD from Weill Cornell Medical School, and conducted postdoctoral research at Whitehead Institute. She is the recipient of a Burroughs-Wellcome Career Award and was named a 2019 Searle Scholar. Her research focuses on the evolution and regulation of chromatin in the germ line, with an emphasis on the role of histone modifications. She discovered that mammalian germ cells maintain an epigenetically poised state at promoters of somatic developmental genes, and that evolution of poising in the mammalian germ line is linked to evolution of somatic developmental gene regulatory networks. She recently reported that chromatin perturbations during male germ cell development result in epigenetically-inherited cancer susceptibility in a mouse model, uncovering a new contribution of paternal epigenetics to disease. Current research in the Lesch lab is aimed at defining the functional consequences of evolutionary divergence in chromatin state and identifying new mechanisms for regulation of germline chromatin and epigenetic inheritance.
Coleen Murphy, PhD Princeton University
Coleen T. Murphy is a Professor of Genomics and Molecular Biology at Princeton University. She graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics, then earned her doctorate in Biochemistry at Stanford University, studying the structure-function determinants of the motor protein myosin. Dr. Murphy became interested in applying new quantitative technologies to approach the question of aging during her postdoctoral work in Dr. Cynthia Kenyon’s lab (UCSF), developing microarray approaches to identify the set of genes downstream of the insulin signaling/FOXO longevity pathway, revealing a a vast array of downstream cellular processes, including stress response, proteostasis, metabolism, immunity, autophagy, and intercellular signaling, to extend cellular and organismal maintenance with age. In her own lab, Dr. Murphy’s team has developed C. elegans models of human “quality of life” aging phenotypes, such as cognitive aging and reproductive aging; these processes are remarkably well-conserved at the molecular level, and her group has identified genetic pathways that can extend these processes with age through the development of quantitative assays and genomic approaches to study these aging phenomena.
Mitinori Saito, MD, PhD Kyoto University
Mitinori Saitou received his MD and PhD (under Prof. Shoichiro Tsukita) from the Kyoto University, and performed his postdoctoral work at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute (with Prof. Azim Surani). He was appointed team leader at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in 2003. He was appointed Professor at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in 2009, and Director of the JST ERATO program in 2011. He was appointed Professor at the Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study (KUIAS) and Director of Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology (ASHBi) in 2018. His work focuses on the mechanism and reconstitution in vitro of germ cell development in mice, non-human primates including great apes, and humans.
Melina Schuh, PhD Max Planck Institute
Melina Schuh’s laboratory studies how errors arise during the meiotic divisions of mammalian oocytes. Such errors are the leading cause of miscarriages and the age-related decline in female fertility. Her lab carried out the first studies of meiosis in live human oocytes and developed strategies for high content screens for meiotic genes in mammals, as well as a method for the acute degradation of endogenous proteins, called Trim-Away. Recent work from her lab established essential functions for actin in acentrosomal spindle assembly, and led to the discovery of the LISD, a liquid-like spindle domain, in mammalian oocytes. Melina Schuh studied biochemistry at the University of Bayreuth. After completing her PhD at EMBL, Heidelberg (2008), she became a group leader at the MRC LMB in Cambridge, UK. Melina Schuh has been a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany since 2016.
Allan Spradling, PhD Carnegie Institution for Science
Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan Allan Spradling studied mathematics and physics at the University of Chicago. Switching to biology at MIT, where he earned his PhD. in 1975, Spradling used Drosophila polytene chromosomes as genome arrays to study transcription, and found that heat shock causes a universal genetic response. Spradling began a long fascination with the Drosophila ovary during a postdoctoral stint at Indiana University, where he discovered that eggshell genes undergo amplification during follicle development. In 1980 he joined the faculty at Carnegie Institution’s Department of Embryology in Baltimore, and two years later he and colleague Gerry Rubin showed how transposable elements can be used to introduce DNA into the Drosophila genome. Remaining at Carnegie, Spradling was appointed an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1988, and Director in 1994. Spradling’s group developed methods for using transposon insertions to identify and manipulate Drosophila genes, and these efforts were expanded into the Drosophila Gene Disruption Project, whose freely distributed strains have facilitated Drosophila research worldwide.
Spradling has become increasingly convinced that the powerful genetics available in model organisms such as Drosophila can be used to advance medical research. Over the last 15 years, his group has investigated the basic biology of tissue stem cells, and in 2000 characterized the first stem cell niche. Efforts to understand the parallels between germ cell development in Drosophila and mammals are also continuing to advance. A member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) since 1989, Spradling has been awarded many prizes for his work. These include the NAS Molecular Biology Award and the Newcomb Cleveland Prize (both jointly with Gerry Rubin). He has also received the E.J. Conklin Award of the Society for Developmental Biology and the G.W. Beadle Award of the Genetics Society of America. In 2006 Spradling was awarded an honorary PhD from the University of Chicago, and was the 2008 recipient of the Gruber Prize in Genetics as well as the 2018 March of Dimes and Richard B. Johnson, Jr., MD Award in Developmental Biology.
Yousin Suh, PhD Columbia University
Yousin Suh, Ph.D., is the Charles and Marie Robertson of Reproductive Sciences in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Professor of Genetics and Development, and Director of Reproductive Aging in Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. She investigates the (epi)genetic component that underlies the interface of intrinsic aging and disease. The approach she follows is based on the identification of (epi)genome sequence variants associated with age-related disease risk or its opposite, i.e., an unusual resistance to such disease. For this purpose her target populations are either cohorts of middle-aged individuals followed longitudinally for signs of all major age-related diseases, or cohorts of extremely long-lived individuals who managed to ward off such diseases. To tackle the key problem of identifying the functional impact of any observed association, she applies specific functional tests, including in silico modeling, cell culture assays and mouse models. Discoveries thus far made include novel, rare alleles associated with extreme longevity, sirtuin variants that confer risk for heart disease, functional non-coding variants in the gene desert Chr. 9p21 locus underlying multiple age-related diseases, longevity-associated miRNAs, and epigenetic signatures of cellular senescence. Her contributions in the field have been recognized by the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging. She has organized numerous international symposiums on functional genomics of aging, is on the Editorial Boards of numerous Journals including PLoS Genetics and Aging Cell as an Associate Editor, and participates in advisory committee members for several research institutions and companies.
2020 Senior Scholar Award Recipients:
Holly Ingraham, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
“Identifying Novel Drivers in Central Control of Female Reproduction”
Coleen Murphy, Ph.D.
“Defining a “Clock” for Female Reproductive Decline”
Mary Zelinski, Ph.D.
Oregon Health & Science University
“Interventions for Ovarian Aging”
2020 Junior Scholar Award Recipients:
Bérénice Benayoun, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
“Establishing new age-relevant mouse models of menopause”
Lynae Brayboy, M.D.
Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Berlin
“Dysfunctional MDR-1 disrupts mitochondrial homeostasis in the oocyte”
Ingrid Fetter-Pruneda, Ph.D.
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
“The molecular and cellular basis of high fecundity in social insects”
Amanda Kallen, M.D.
“Ovarian Senescence as a Novel Driver of Female Reproductive Aging”
2020 Pilot Award Recipients:
Ivana Celic, Ph.D.
“LINE1 Retrotransposons in Female Reproductive Aging”
Iain Cheeseman, Ph.D.
“Analyzing centromere rejuvenation during female reproductive aging”
Marco Conti, M.D.
University of California, San Francisco
“mRNA translation program and oocyte aging”
Arjumand Ghazi, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh
“Genetic & Chemical Modulation of Splicing to Combat Reproductive Senescence”
Polina Lishko, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley
“Endocannabinoid signaling in the mammalian ovary and reproductive longevity”
Zita Santos, Ph.D., Carlos Ribeiro, Ph.D.
Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal
“Metabolic reprogramming, dietary nutrients and food cravings in ovary aging”
Yousin Suh, Ph.D.
“Genetic Control of Ovarian Aging in Humans”
2020 Postdoctoral Scholar Award Recipients:
Cristina Quesada Candela, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburg
“Proteasomal Targets Driving Meiotic Failure During Reproductive Aging”
Ana Milunovic Jevtic, Ph.D., D.V.M.
University of California, Berkeley
“The role of endocannabinoid hydrolase ABHD2 in the ovarian aging”
Gul Bikem Soygur Kaya, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
“How duration of meiotic prophase affects development and aging of oocytes”
Min Hoo Kim, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
“Elucidating causal effects of the microbiome on reproductive aging”
Seungsoo Kim, Ph.D.
Columbia University Medical Center
“Integrative bioinformatic analysis of human ovarian aging and healthspan”
Olfat Malak, Ph.D.
Buck Institute for Research on Aging
“Role of sympathetic transmission in the regulation of ovarian aging”
Farners Amargant i Riera, Ph.D.
“Targeting fibrosis and inflammation to extend reproductive longevity”
Zijing Zhang, Ph.D.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
“The impact of ovarian macrophage population on mouse ovarian aging”
Reproductive Biology Hub
We are building a hub facility at the Buck Institute to provide experimental support and training in all aspects of ovarian biology. The goal of this facility is to provide experimental support and training for studies that require expertise in ovarian biology. The hub will be accessible to any lab in the world, including members of the consortium. In addition to state-of-the-art instrumentation and fee-for-service assays, the hub will provide an opportunity for investigators to send lab members to obtain training in the techniques necessary to carry out these experiments in their home labs. By providing resources to plan and execute experiments, we hope to lower the barrier to entry and grow the field.
IT and big data are essential to advancing the field. Thus, we are building a bioinformatics core that will provide analytic tools for multi-omics projects to investigators who are part of the Consortium. To accelerate the discovery process, the bioinformatics core will also compile and organize large datasets generated by the consortium to be made available to consortium scientists first and later to the scientific community at large.
Bevin Lin, PhD Program Director
Bevin Lin, PhD, joined the Buck Institute as the first Program Director of the Global Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality. Prior to this, Dr. Lin was at Autodesk supporting business strategy and operations. She has been a White House intern, a chemist at the New Technologies Engineering Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and in program management in Silicon Valley.
Dr. Lin received her BS in Chemistry from UC Santa Barbara, and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from UC Davis. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology scholarship to conduct medical photonic research for early cancer detection and diagnosis. During her graduate work, she initiated collaboration with Olympus Medical Inc. to explore autofluorescence (AF) endomicroscopy methods, co-authored a spectral micro-imaging patent, and developed a prototype that successfully acquired AF images parallel to histology in seconds rather than days. As an international postdoctoral fellow at the National University of Singapore, her research produced the first application of parallel factor analysis coupled with excitation emission matrix AF spectroscopy for early-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma detection. She completed a joint MIT-Harvard postdoc fellowship focused on translational biomedical research, before joining the Biomechatronics Group at the MIT Media Lab to establish infrastructure operations while continuing to conduct independent research, write grants, and publish.
Dr. Lin’s business and management training include corporate leadership workshops, a scholarship to complete the UC Davis Graduate School of Management Business Development Intensive Program, and courses at Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management.
Jennifer Garrison, PhD Faculty Director
Jennifer Garrison, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Faculty Director of the Global Consortium for Female Reproductive Longevity and Equality, and co-Director of the Buck-USC Biology of Aging PhD Program. She holds secondary appointments in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC).
Her research focuses on understanding how chemical communication between the brain and other tissues influences aging. The Garrison lab studies interactions between the ovary and brain during middle age to identify the neuronal factors that lead to the onset of reproductive decline.
Dr. Garrison received her BA in Molecular Cell Biology from UC Berkeley, completed her PhD at UCSF in Chemistry and Chemical Biology where she was a National Science Foundation Fellow and an ARCS Scholar, and was a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rockefeller University. She was named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Neuroscience Research Fellow and an Allen Institute for Brain Science Next Generation Leader and is the recipient of a Pathway to Independence Award and a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators from the National Institutes of Health, a Glenn Medical Foundation Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, and a Junior Faculty Award from the American Federation of Aging Research.