Friday Evening Lecture – Patricia Hunt, Washington State University – “Declining Human Fertility: A Conspiracy of Sex, Age, and the Environment?”

Date(s) - 07/11/2014
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Lillie Auditorium

Friday Evening Lecture Series“Declining Human Fertility:  A Conspiracy of Sex, Age, and the Environment?”
Patricia Hunt, Washington State University
July 11, 2014, 8:00 PM, Lillie Auditorium

Introduction by Dr. Richard Behringer, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Patricia HuntLecture Abstract:
By comparison with other species, humans are not very adept at making babies; the rate of fetal loss is higher in humans than in any other species studied to date. To add to our reproductive woes, there is ample evidence that the incidence of human infertility has increased during the past several decades. The factors responsible for these human reproductive problems will be the focus of this talk, including the apparently innate propensity for errors in the process of making human eggs, changing reproductive patterns that are contributing to the problem, and the growing concern that environmental exposures are adversely affecting our fertility. Because assessing the effect of the environment on human reproduction is difficult, we are forced to rely on experimental data. What these data tell us and the relevance of the findings to humans has been the subject of intense debate. Nevertheless, the evidence that some chemicals with hormone-like properties (known as endocrine disruptors) that are ubiquitous in our environment significantly compromise reproduction continues to mount. These experimental data and their relevance to humans will be discussed.


Dr. Patricia Hunt is a geneticist and a Meyer Distinguished Professor at Washington State University. Her research focuses on the genetic control of mammalian gametogenesis with an emphasis on meiosis, age-related increases in meiotic errors in females, the impact of environmental contaminants on mammalian reproduction, and assisted reproductive technologies.

Dr. Hunt received her B.A. from Michigan State University and earned her Ph.D. in Reproductive Biology from the University of Hawaii in 1983. She was called “the accidental toxicologist” in 1998 by Scientific American magazine when bisephenol A (BPA) accidently made its way into her research environment. This was before BPA became a household word, and her findings started the whole prohibiting use of BPA movement.

From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Hunt served as a Course Director for the MBL’s Frontiers in Reproduction. In 2007, she was named to Scientific American’s list of the top 50 researchers in the country. Dr. Hunt is currently a member of the American Society of Human Genetics and the Society for the Study of Reproduction, and is also a Board of Reviewing Editors member for Biology of Reproduction.

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