Joan Jorgensen

Credentials: Comparative Biosciences Department

Position title: Molecular and developmental origins of sex differentiation


Phone: (608) 890-2337

4354c Veterinary Medicine Building
2015 Linden Dr
Madison, WI 53706




Developmental Biology & Regenerative Medicine; Cell Adhesion & Cytoskeleton; Transcriptional Mechanisms


My laboratory’s investigations into female and male gonad development are inspired by the quest to understand the fetal basis of sex-specific adult diseases in reproductive endocrinology. Our interest in female gonad development is focused on formation of the unique cellular niche, the follicle, which ensures survival and maturation of the female gamete. We discovered a cluster of homeobox transcription factors that are expressed during ovary development whose disruption results in follicle failure and oocyte death, classic components of premature ovarian insufficiency or failure, a devastating disease in adult females. Our interest in male gonad development is centered on local regulation of androgen synthesis. Defective androgen synthesis or activity during fetal development is emerging as a component of adult male infertility and a component of the testis dysgenesis syndrome that includes a constellation of impacts from urogenital tract malformation, infertility, and gonadal cancers. The major goals of my research have been to discover local cell-cell interactions and molecular mechanisms that are used to establish the nascent gonad environments. It has been established that male and female developmental pathways engage in an ongoing battle of mutual antagonism to maintain sex-specific identity. Therefore, we find it critical to understand the sex-specific cell-cell interactions that depend on both time and geographical space during development to help us understand the potential for adult diseases.

ALSO A TRAINER IN THE FOLLOWING PROGRAMS: Comparative and Biomedical Sciences (CBMS), Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology (ERP), Molecular and Environmental Toxicology (METC), Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (MCP)