CRG Leadership

Dr. Paula Cohen, PhD, Director, is Professor of Genetics in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell University. has worked in the field of reproductive biology since 1989.  She obtained her PhD in 1992 at the University of London, England, where she studied the endocrine regulation of implantation with Dr. Stuart Milligan.  She then moved to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for her postdoctoral studies which focused on the role of the growth factors in gonadal function, and also in maturation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.  During this time, she developed an interest in the role of DNA repair proteins in mammalian meiosis, and this became her major focus of study, first as an instructor (1998-2000), and then when she joined the faculty of the Department of Genetics at Albert Einstein College in 2000. In 2004, she was recruited to Cornell University, and currently holds the rank of Professor of Genetics. Dr. Cohen has been continuously funded by NIH since starting her lab, along with numerous other private foundation grants and awards. She has served on several NIH Study Sections and international review panels.  She is an associate editor of the journals Chromosoma and PLoS Genetics.

Dr. Mark Roberson, Professor and Chair, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca.  Dr. Roberson received his PhD at the University of Nebraska in 1990 and then completed 5 years of postdoctoral research with Richard Maurer at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and Oregon Health Sciences University in the area of molecular endocrinology of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.  Dr. Roberson joined the faculty at Cornell University in 1995 and assumed the role of Chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in 2007. Dr. Roberson has published extensively and has served on NIH Study Sections, as well as on the Editorial Boards of Molecular Endocrinology and Endocrinology.  He is the PI on the Reproductive Sciences and Genomics Training Grant which is affiliated with the CRG, and which was awarded by the NICHD in 2007.

Peter N. Schlegel, M.D., F.A.C.S.Co-Director, is the James J. Colt Professor and Chairman of Urology and Professor of Reproductive Medicine at WCMC, and is a Staff Scientist at The Population Council, Center for Biomedical Research and a Visiting Associate Physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital.  He is Urologist-in-Chief at The New York Presbyterian Hospital.  Dr. Schlegel is an internationally recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of male infertility. His studies focus on the importance of genetic factors in male infertility and the definition of the characteristics of men who are candidates for sperm retrieval, He has published extensively on microsurgical treatment of infertile men, described novel techniques for sperm retrieval for assisted reproduction, and identified the factors that affect the successful achievement of pregnancy after sperm retrieval. Dr. Schlegel was co-editor of the Journal of Andrology and has served on editorial boards of the British Journal of Urology-International, Journal of Urology (Investigative Section), Techniques in Urology, Journal of Andrology, and FertiliText. He is currently Co-Editor of Andrology. Dr. Schlegel has served in a leadership role of several national infertility organizations, including as a Council member for the American Society of Andrology, Board of Directors, Secretary, and Vice-President of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, as well as serving as Secretary, Vice President and President of the Society for Study of Male Reproduction of the AUA.

John C. Schimenti, PhD is PI on the Program Project focussing on genome integrity in the germline. He received his doctorate in Developmental Biology in 1985 and did postdoctoral work with Lee Silver at Princeton studying the genetics of the mouse t complex, a system involving mutations affecting spermatogenesis. He became an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Genetics at Case Western Reserve Univ. in 1987.  There, he continued work on the t complex and developed transgenic models to study genetic recombination in mice. In 1992, he moved to The Jackson Laboratory (“JAX”) in Bar Harbor, Maine, where he was a Staff Scientist, from where he was recruited to Cornell University in 2004. Dr. Schimenti is currently a Professor of Genetics, member of two Departments (Biomedical Sciences and Molecular Biology & Genetics), Director of the Center for Vertebrate Genomics, and co-Founder (and former Director) of the Graduate Field of Genomics, and the PI of this T32 training grant in Vertebrate Developmental Genomics. Dr. Schimenti has served as a permanent member of the Eukaryotic Genetics review panel at NSF, the Mammalian Genetics study section at NIH, the Secretariat of the International Mammalian Genome Society, NIH committees concerning the development of mammalian and non-mammalian Genomic resources, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Genetics Society of America.



CRG News

Grimson and Cohen Labs identify critical regulatory pathways involving non-coding RNAs in sex body integrity during meiosis

A new study from Andrew Grimson's lab, in collaboration with Paula Cohen's lab, has identified a key pathway required for maintenance of sex chromosome telomere integrity. Using conditional knockout mice for Dicer and Dgcr8, two key enzymes required for small RNA processing, Modzelewski et al (2015) show that loss of small RNAs during prophase I leads to telomere fusion events specifically involving the X and Y chromosomes. For further information, see the May edition of Journal of Cell Science

Paduch Lab identifies critical Sertoli Cell-Germ cell interactions in human testis

A recent publication by Dabaja et al (2015) has identified key cell:cell interactions that are necessary to establish normal profiles of one key microRNA, miR202-5p, in Sertoli cells. This is the first example of a germ cell regulatory interaction that is necessary for miR expression in neighboring somatic cells of the testis

Six Postdoctoral Fellows awarded CRG seed grants
Six outstanding postdoctoral fellows have been awarded seed grants of between $5000 and $10,000 to initiate studies of non-coding RNAs in reproduction. All six projects have a firmly translational basis, and range from identification of long non-coding RNAs in meiosis, to establishing mechanisms by which small non-coding RNAs regulate estrogen production in the ovary. Funds will support experimental studies and use of the RNA Sequencing Core for up to one year.
Annual CRG symposium attracts researchers from over 15 institutions to Ithaca!
The CRG Annual Symposium was held in April, 2016, concurrent with the meeting of the NICHD Male Research Focus Group Meeting on the Ithaca campus of Cornell University. Over 150 participants from two Cornell campuses, along with guests from across the country, and researchers from neighboring institutions assembled together for this 2-day event. Prizes were awarded for the best trainee poster and oral presentation. For photos and coverage, click here.
Schimenti Lab sheds light on DNA damage checkpoint regulation in mammalian oocytes

The lab of Center member John Schimenti  recently identified the DNA damage checkpoint pathway responsible for culling oocytes that fail to repair double stranded breaks (DSBs) that occur during meiosis or which arise in a female's oocyte pool (Bolcun-Filas et al, Science 343:533-536, 2014).  Using combinations of mutants involved in recombination and DNA damage responses, they found that this pathway involves signaling of checkpoint kinase 2 (CHK2) to both p53 and p63. Disruption of this checkpoint pathway restored fertility to females that normally would be deficient of all oocytes due to defects in meiotic recombination or exposure to radiation. This discovery opens the way to using available CHK2 inhibitors to protect the oocytes of women undergoing cancer therapy that would normally cause infertility.