The Reproductive Endocrine Unit of the Department of Medicine was established in 1983 to provide a venue for the investigational, teaching and clinical activities of this expanding section of the Endocrine Division. Building on the MGH’s long-standing record of outstanding reproductive research dating back to the time of Fuller Albright, and expanded by Dr. William Crowley, the unit is currently led by Unit Chief, Dr. Stephanie Seminara.
Harvard Reproductive Endocrine Sciences Center National Center for Translational Research in Reproduction and Infertility
Areas of Research
The overall goal of Dr. Crowley’s laboratory over the past 25 years has been to improve the understanding and treatment of reproductive disorders affecting humans. We have focused on gaining insights into the neuroendocrine and genetic control of GnRH secretion, its impact upon gonadotropin secretion and gonadal physiology as well as it regulation by higher neural regulation.
Dr. Seminara leads a translational research program that studies hypothalamic neuropeptides (kisspeptin and neurokinin B) that regulate the timing of sexual maturation and maintenance of normal reproductive function across mammalian species (mice, monkeys, and man).
Dr. Seminara’s research focuses on how neurodegeneration (secondary to disordered ubiquitination) can lead to hypogonadism and infertility through detailed studies in genetically engineered mice and patients with rare neurodegenerative disorders.
Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons serve as the pilot light for reproduction in all mammals. GnRH neurons originate from the nasal placode and migrate into the hypothalamus during embryonic development. Disruption of the origin or their migratory journey results in Kallmann Syndrome, a rare Mendelian disorder characterized by hypogonadotropic hypogonadism secondary to GnRH deficiency and anosmia (loss of sense of smell).
Drs. Hall and Welt each study the physiology and pathophysiology underlying normal female reproduction. Most recently, Dr. Hall’s work has emphasized ovulatory disorders and reproductive aging; Dr. Welt has focused on the genetics of polycystic ovary syndrome and premature ovarian insufficiency. Although both of these faculty members are leading programs at other institutions, they maintain active collaborations with the REU.
Research Students (BMRCA)
Lacey Plummer, MS (Lab Manager)
Kathryn Salnikov (Program Manager)
Nicole DiOrio (Clinical Research Coordinator)
Addie Davies (Clinical Research Coordinator)
The Reproductive Endocrine Unit (REU) in the Department of Medicine provides a resource rich training environment. In addition to the Institutional resources of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners, our affiliations with Harvard Medication School, the Broad Institute, Trainees benefit from the close physical proximity of clinical and basic science researchers, all of whom are focused on the field of Reproductive Endocrinology.
Access to our unit’s facilities, resources and seminars helps to make the sharing of ideas seamless.
The Reproductive Endocrine Unit of the Massachusetts General Hospital is located at two sites on the MGH Main Campus. One site, the Bartlett Hall Extension fifth floor (BHX-5). This 4,507 sqft of space includes the Leadership, Faculty and Fellow office space, Core laboratory, conference room, and research support carrels, and administrative office space.
Facilities / Resources
REU Research Clinic – The research clinic located on the 4th floor of the Bartlett Hall Extension is conveniently located next to the Genotyping Core. Clinical research studies are performed here and in the General Clinical Research Center.
Reproductive Endocrine Unit Specimen Reference Laboratory is located in the ground floor of the MGH Bulfinch Building and is housed within the MGH Clinical Laboratory for Research of Pathology and is part of the Abbott Center of Excellence.
Harvard Center for Reproductive Endocrine Sciences Core Laboratory – The Core Laboratory can be used by all Investigators on the unit.
Progeny Database and Phenotyping/Genotying Website – All genetic and phenotypic data, sample data and demographic data of our genetics study are stored in a comprehensive password-protected Progeny database.
Tech Integrated Conference Room – Video and Teleconference enabled
MGH Division of Clinical Research (DCR) – offers courses in clinical research, free individual consultations on study design biostatistics, translational medicine, and genetics and genomics.
MGH General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) – REU investigators conduct several clinical research protocols at the MGH GCRC and benefit from the personnel support including research nurses, nurse practitioners, research nutritionists and also use the inpatient and outpatient facilities, DXA scan facility for assessment of bone density and body composition and exercise testing facilities.
MGH Center for Human Genetics Research (CHGR) – The REU is supported by Dr. James Gusella PhD, Director of the CHGR, who serves as our Genetic Consultant. In addition, REU investigators benefit from the CHGR Core laboratory and have in place several strategic collaborations with other CHGR scientists.
MGH Center for Comparative Medicine (CCM) provides reliable, affordable, and responsive laboratory animal care and research services to REU investigators.
Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSA/Harvard Catalyst) – is dedicated to providing tools, training, technologies, and collaborative interfaces to clinical and translational investigator. The Harvard Catalyst Introduction to Clinical Investigation is a five-day course designed to give fellows and junior faculty a solid foundation in the principles and methods of clinical investigation. Upon completing this course, participants will be able to take advantage of additional, specialized training, mentoring, and consultation opportunities for clinical investigation available through Harvard Catalyst.
Broad Institute – Dr. Crowley is an Associate Member of the Broad Institute and this unique association provides REU investigators with access to the Broad Genomics and Bioinformatics pipelines, Cores, and eligibility for internal seed funding. REU investigators are also active participants in the Medical Population and Genetics (MPG) meetings every Thursday morning. In addition, the REU staff attend the Broad Institute’s MPG Primer series every year. This primer is a series of informal weekly discussions hosted by the Broad Institute, covering such topics as human genetic variation, genotyping, DNA sequencing methods, statistics, and data analysis.