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Reproductive System

Research into the physiologic functioning and diseases of the reproductive system.  Many of these investigators are part of Northwestern's Center for Reproductive Sciences.

Labs in This Area

 Sarki Abdulkadir Lab

Studying the mechanisms of prostate cancer initiation, progression and recurrence and strategies to therapeutically target these processes

Research Description

Our laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive prostate cancer initiation, progression and recurrence with the ultimate goal of developing therapeutic strategies that target these processes. Our approach includes the genomic analysis of human tumors, cell culture studies and the use of genetically engineered mouse models. We have a strong interest in genomics and gene regulation, oncogenic kinases as potential molecular therapeutic targets and the use of in vivo lineage tracing to define the fates of specific cell populations in tumorigenesis.

Specific projects include:

The role of the oncogenic serine/threonine kinase PIM1 in prostate cancer - PIM1 is coexpressed with c-MYC and dramatically enhances c-MYC-driven prostate tumorigenesis in a kinase-dependent manner. Notably, PIM1 is induced in tumors by hypoxia, radiation and treatment with docetaxel, a common but largely ineffective option for patients with advanced castration-resistant prostate cancer. PIM1 induction by hypoxia/radiation/docetaxel promotes prostate cancer cell survival and therapeutic resistance. Therefore, PIM1 may represent a valuable therapeutic target in prostate cancer. We are using new mouse models of prostate cancer for testing the efficacy of novel PIM1 kinase inhibitors in treating prostate cancer and reversing therapeutic resistance. We have also identified novel candidate PIM1-interacting proteins in prostate epithelial cells. Among the proteins identified are a MYC transcriptional cofactor and a prostate stem cell marker/regulator. We are investigating how PIM1 promotes prostate tumorigenesis by phosphorylating these substrates involved in regulating MYC transcriptional activity and stem cell function.

Cellular and molecular determinants of prostate cancer recurrence - A major clinical problem in prostate cancer is that of tumor recurrence following initial apparently successful therapy. Recurrent tumors may arise from a small number of "cancer stem-like cells" that survive the initial therapeutic intervention and have the capacity to regenerate the tumor. We are using lineage tracing to examine the competence of specific prostate epithelial cell types to regenerate tumors following therapy in mice.

Targeting lethal prostate cancer – We are using our mouse model of lethal prostate cancer based on alterations in Myc, Pten and Tp53 to develop new targeted therapies. One current project involves the targeting of EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinase using an antagonist as a therapeutic strategy.

For more information, see Dr. Abdulkadir's faculty profile.


Rodríguez Y, Unno K, Truica MI, Chalmers ZR, Yoo YA, Vatapalli R, Sagar V, Yu J, Lysy B, Hussain M, Han H, Abdulkadir SA. A Genome-Wide CRISPR Activation Screen Identifies PRRX2 as a Regulator of Enzalutamide Resistance in Prostate Cancer. Cancer Res. 2022 Jun 6;82(11):2110-2123.

Chalmers ZR, Burns MC, Ebot EM, Frampton GM, Ross JS, Hussain MHA, Abdulkadir SA. Early-onset metastatic and clinically advanced prostate cancer is a distinct clinical and molecular entity characterized by increased TMPRSS2-ERG fusions. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2021 Jun;24(2):558-566.

Unno K, Chalmers ZR, Pamarthy S, Vatapalli R, Rodriguez Y, Lysy B, Mok H, Sagar V, Han H, Yoo YA, Ku SY, Beltran H, Zhao Y, Abdulkadir SA. Activated ALK Cooperates with N-Myc via Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling to Induce Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer. Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 15;81(8):2157-2170.

Sagar V, Vatapalli R, Lysy B, Pamarthy S, Anker JF, Rodriguez Y, Han H, Unno K, Stadler WM, Catalona WJ, Hussain M, Gill PS, Abdulkadir SA. EPHB4 inhibition activates ER stress to promote immunogenic cell death of prostate cancer cells. Cell Death and Disease. November 2019.

Han H, Jain AD, Truica MI, Izquierdo-Ferrer J, Anker JF, Lysy B, Sagar V, Luan Y, Chalmers ZR, Unno K, Mok H, Vatapalli R, Yoo YA, Rodriguez Y, Kandela I, Parker JB, Chakravarti D, Mishra RK, Schiltz GE, Abdulkadir SA. Small-Molecule MYC Inhibitors Suppress Tumor Growth and Enhance Immunotherapy. Cancer Cell.  November 2019.

Njoroge RN, Vatapalli RJ, Abdulkadir SA. Organoids increase the predictive value of in vitro cancer chemoprevention studies for in vivo outcome. Frontiers in Oncology. January 2019.

See Dr. Abdulkadir's publications in PubMed.

Contact Us

Dr. Abdulkadir
Lab Telephone: 312-503-5031

 Grant Barish Lab

Transcriptional regulators of inflammation and metabolism

Research Description

The burgeoning epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus presents a major health and therapeutic challenge.  Transcriptional regulation is the fundamental control mechanism for metabolism, but a gap remains in our knowledge of gene regulatory pathways that control lipid and glucose homeostasis.  Thus, we seek to identify modulable pathways that may be leveraged to counteract diabetes mellitus and its comorbidities, particularly cardiovascular disease.  In this effort, we use a variety of genetic, molecular, next-generation sequencing, biochemical methods and physiological models.  Our recent work has helped to reveal the genomic architecture for transcriptional regulation in innate immunity, which plays a key role in both diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis.  Surprisingly, although macrophage regulatory elements are often at significant linear distance from their associated genes, we identified interplay between transcriptional activators and repressors that is highly proximate, occurring at shared nucleosomal domains (Genes & Development, 2010).  Moreover, we discovered a powerful role for the BCL6 transcriptional repressor to maintain macrophage quiescence and prevent atherosclerosis (Cell Metabolism, 2012). 

Currently, we are exploring the impact of activator–repressor interactions on enhancer function and transcription, the signal-dependent control of repression and the functional impact of transcriptional activators and repressors on inflammatory and metabolic disease. In particular, we strive to further understand the role for B cell lymphoma 6 (BCL6), a C2H2-type zinc finger repressor, in innate immunity and metabolism. 

In related work, we are developing new methods for cell-specific isolation of RNA and chromatin from tissues composed of mixed cell populations. These genetic tools will allow us to explore transcriptional regulation in living animals with unprecedented precision and global scope using transcriptome sequencing and ChIP-sequencing. We anticipate that these approaches will identify new candidate regulators and mechanisms underlying cardiovascular and metabolic disease. 

For more information, please see Dr. Barish's faculty profile.


See Dr. Barish's publications in PubMed.

Graduate Students

Madhavi Senagolage
Meredith Chase
Krithika Ramachandran


Dr. Barish

 Serdar Bulun Lab

Estrogen metabolism in breast cancer, endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

Research Description

The laboratory research of Serdar E. Bulun, MD, focuses on studying estrogen biosynthesis and metabolism, in particular aromatase expression, in hormone-dependent human diseases such as breast cancer, endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

A team of investigators works on understanding the epithelial-stromal interactions and aromatase overexpression in breast cancer tissue. Because aromatase inhibitors treat breast tumors primarily via suppressing intratumoral estrogen biosynthesis, these efforts are important for discovering new targets of treatment.

Another team studies endometriosis. Basic data from this laboratory led to the introduction of aromatase inhibitors into endometriosis treatment. Human tissues and a primate model are used to elucidate cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of endometriosis.

Regulation of aromatase expression is also studied in uterine fibroids, benign tumors that are dependent on estrogen for growth, by a third team. 

A fourth team is investigating the link between progesterone action and estrogen inactivation in normal endometrium and endometriosis.

Lastly, a fifth team has identified novel mutations that cause familial excessive estrogen formation syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by short stature, gynecomastia and hypogonadism in males and early breast development and irregular menses in females. In this syndrome, heterozygous inversions in chromosome 15q21, which cause the coding region of the aromatase gene to lie adjacent to constitutively active cryptic promoters that normally transcribe other genes, result in estrogen excess owing to the overexpression of aromatase in many tissues.

For more information, please see Dr. Bulun's faculty profile.


See Dr. Bulun's publications in PubMed.


Dr. Bulun

 Debabrata Chakravarti Lab

Epigenome and 3D chromatin organization dysregulations define human cancers and reproductive diseases

Research Description

Dr. Chakravarti’s research is focused on understanding epigenetic and transcriptional regulation of human tumorigenesis.  One of his research projects is focused on understanding the mechanisms that drive the development of uterine fibroids and endometriosis that affect an alarmingly high number of all women.  In another project, Dr. Chakravarti’s research team investigates molecular underpinning of contribution of transcription factors, cofactors and epigenomic and 3D genome reorganization regulation of prostate Cancer that affects a large number of men worldwide.  In a third project the laboratory determines the role of protein cofactors in regulation of cell cycle genes. Thus, our work interfaces both fundamental and translational research on diseases that affect humankind.  It is our hope that when combined with results from others, our research will contribute to the development of future therapeutics.  Dr. Chakravarti gratefully acknowledges continuous funding support from the NIH and key roles of his lab members and collaborators in the overall success of the Chakravarti Laboratory.

Dr. Chakravarti also enjoys teaching.  He has continuously taught both medical and graduate students.  He serves on numerous Ph.D thesis committees.  He has trained a large number of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows some of whom are now independent investigators at this and other institutions.

For more information, please see, visit the Dr. Chakravarti's faculty profile.


See Dr. Chakravarti's publications in PubMed.
Associate Editor: Endocrinology 2017-present; Editorial Board:  Molecular Endocrinology 2011- present, Mol. Cell. Biol. 2014-present
The Editor of a Book volume on “Regulatory Mechanisms in Transcriptional Signaling” in Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science (Vol 87), published in Aug 2009, Academic Press, Chakravarti, D. Editor

Contact Us

Dr. Chakravarti


 Francesca Duncan Lab

Mammalian ovarian and gamete biology and reproductive aging

Research Description

Aging is associated with cellular and tissue deterioration and is a prime risk factor for chronic
diseases and declining health. The female reproductive system is the first to age in humans, with
a decline in egg quantity and quality beginning at ~35 years of age and menopause ensuing at
~50 years of age. Female reproductive aging has significant health consequences as it results in
endocrine function loss and is a leading cause of infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects.
Although aging hallmarks and mechanisms have been enumerated across multiple organ
systems and species, they have not been investigated in the context of mammalian reproductive

My research program integrates and builds upon my 18-year history in the field of reproductive
science and medicine to investigate the overarching hypothesis that deterioration of oocyte-intrinsic
cellular pathways together with alterations in the ovarian environment underlie the age-associated
decline in female gamete quantity and quality. Our 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. Our comprehensive insights
will help us design targeted interventions to potentially slow or counteract reproductive aging,
laying the foundation to simultaneously improve women’s fertile-span and health-span across
generations. In addition, reproductive aging mechanisms may inform those that precipitate
general aging, which occur up to decades later in life. Moreover, the mechanisms involved in
reproductive aging that we are investigating - aneuploidy, protein metabolism dysregulation,
and fibrosis and inflammation – are also central to other conditions such as cancer
pathogenesis. Thus, our research has broad impact and collaborative opportunities across
disciplines, which already include biochemistry, biophysics, toxicology and pharmacology, and
reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Ultimately our work in reproductive aging will have direct impacts on public health in two ways.
First, reproductive aging affects all women, and menopause and premature aging of the ovary
accelerates aging in general. Such health consequences occur because ovarian hormones such
as estrogen, for example, are critical for cardiovascular, bone, immune, and cognitive functions.
Second, reproductive aging is associated with age-associated infertility, which has significant
societal, clinical, and health ramifications as more women globally are delaying childbearing.

For lab information and more, see Dr. Duncan's faculty profile.

Visit the Duncan Lab website


See Dr. Duncan's publications on PubMed.


Email Dr. Duncan


 Jeffrey Goldstein Lab

Placental diagnosis and deep phenotyping using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Research Description

Area: Placenta diagnosis and deep phenotyping by machine learning:
Diagnosis of placental abnormalities relies on microscopic examination of glass slides. Digitizing the slides to form whole slide images opens several avenues for applying machine learning techniques. Avenues of research include studies to improve interobserver reliability, decrease vulnerability to artifacts, aid humans in diagnosing, and produce explainable predictions. Machine learning techniques can be used to probe basic problems in placental biology and pathophysiology, quantifying changes that evade routine human detection.
Area: Placental diagnosis using AI on placental photographs:
 Placental examination can provide insight into future maternal and child health, but preparation of slides and expert examination are expensive and time consuming. Many diagnoses can be made in whole or in part from the photographic appearance of the placentas. An AI algorithm, installed on smart phones, could make placental examination feasible for all births, everywhere. Bioinformatic studies of electronic health records can identify new associations between placental features and outcomes.

For lab information and more, see Jeffrey Goldstein, MD,PhD, faculty profile.


See Dr. Goldstein's publications


Email Dr. Goldstein


 Thomas Hope Lab

Studying the posttranscriptional regulation of intronless viral messages

Research Description

We study the posttranscriptional regulation of intronless viral messages. Intronless messages must be efficiently processed in the absence of splicing. Therefore, intronless messages must uncouple RNA processing and export from the splicing process making a simpler model system. We are currently focused on the posttranscriptional regulatory element (PRE) of the Hepadnaviruses, including hepatitis B virus (HBV) and woodchuck hepatitis virus (WPRE). Our goal is to understand the novel mechanism of the stimulation of heterologous gene expression by the WPRE. Understanding WPRE function will allow the development of even more efficient gene expression for a variety of applications from gene therapy to large scale protein production.

Although much is known about the molecular biology of HIV, little is known about the details of interactions between the virus and cellular components such as the cytoskeleton. To gain insights into these processes we are combining the disciplines of virology and cell biology to develop the field of cellular virology. We are especially excited by new methods we have developed – such as time-lapse analysis and fluorescent tagging – that allow for HIV to be visualized in living cells.

For lab information and more, see Dr. Hope's faculty profile and lab website.


See Dr. Hope's publications on PubMed.


Contact Dr. Hope at 312-503-1360.

Lab Staff

Research Faculty

Ann Carias, Gianguido Cianci, Katarina Kotnik Halavaty, Joao Mamede, Danijela Maric

Postdoctoral Fellows

Muhammad Shoaib Arif, Koree Wee Ahn, Yanille Scott, Tahmina Sultana, Roslyn Taylor, Yanique Thomas

Lab Manager

Michael McRaven

Graduate Student

Faisal Nuhu

Technical Staff

Edward Allen, Meegan Anderson, Lisette Corbin, Flora Engelmann, Joseph Griffin, Megan Halkett, Jared Schooley, Divya Thakkar, Sixia Xiao

Program Staff

Debra Walker

Temporary Staff

Bryan Luna, Ewa Tfaily

 Julie Kim Lab

The role of progesterone receptor in uterine diseases

Research Description

Progesterone is essential for the regulation of normal female reproductive function.  Its mode of action is diverse and dependent on the target tissues.  In my lab we are interested in delineating the molecular mechanisms of progesterone action through its receptor, PR in the uterus.  This is done in the context of normal endometrial differentiation, specifically, decidualization, as well as in uterine pathologies, such as endometriosis, endometrial cancer and uterine fibroids.  Interestingly, in these three diseases, progesterone responsiveness is aberrant.

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer diagnosed in the United States with an estimated 40,100 new cases and about 7,500 deaths in 2008.  As risk factors for endometrial cancer increase, the incidence of this disease will also rise, with a paradigm shift to younger ages. In our laboratory, we investigate the role of progesterone receptor in endometrial cancer to understand why progestin therapy is not an effective treatment in all cases of endometrial cancer.

Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disorder affecting up to 10% of the female population and 30-50% of infertile women, with no cure and limited therapies. It is often associated with debilitating pelvic pain and infertility. This disease has also been referred to as a “progesterone resistant” disease since the ectopic and eutopic tissues do not respond to progesterone as it does in normal endometrial tissues. Our laboratory is investigating progesterone resistance in endometriosis and identifying specific biological targets for the future development of alternative therapies.

Leiomyoma, also known as uterine fibroids, are benign tumors originating from the myometrium. These tumors can range from a few millimeters to over 20 cm in size. Leiomyomas are common and can occur in up to 77% of women while up to 20% of women suffer from significant morbidity, pain and discomfort and excessive menstrual bleeding. Leiomyomas are the primary indication for over 200,000 hysterectomies in the United States. In our laboratory we are investigating how progesterone promotes growth of leiomyomas by focusing on the non-genomic signaling of progesterone on the PI3K/AKT pathway. These studies are translated to the identification of important signaling molecules that can be targeted using small molecule inhibitors.

For more information, please see Dr. Kim's faculty profile or the Kim Lab website.


See Dr. Kim's publications in PubMed.


Contact Dr. Kim at 312-503-5377 or the Kim Lab at 312-503-4762.

 Hiroaki Kiyokawa Lab

Investigating the roles of cell cycle-regulatory proteins in differentiation, senescence and tumorigenesis and the cell cycle control in endocrine and reproductive organs

Research Description

We are interested in the basic mechanisms of cell cycle control, cellular senescence/immortalization and malignant transformation, with a focus on protein regulation by ubiquitination. We previously demonstrated that cell cycle regulators such as p27Kip1, CDK4 and CDC25A play highly tissue-specific roles in development and oncogenesis. Ubiquitination, the covalent modification of substrate proteins with the small 76-residue protein ubiquitin, exerts diverse regulation of the fate of substrates, including the cell cycle regulators, e.g, promoting proteolysis, altering subcellular localization and modulating enzymatic activities. Our current research is aimed at revealing novel functions of ubiquitination enzymes and their substrates in development and cancer, which is expected to identify new therapeutic targets against human diseases. The laboratory uses a combination of protein engineering, proteomics, bioinformatics, cell biological techniques such as time-lapse microscopy and 3-D culture and genetically engineered mouse models. Keywords: cell cycle, ubiquitin, ubiquitination, cancer initiation, cancer progression, knockout mice, transgenic mice, breast cancer, cyclin, diabetes, pituitary, development.

Recent Findings

  • There is a unique regulation of cell cycle progression in neuroendocrine tissues such as pancreatic islets and pituitary glands of CDK4-null mice; we have shown that in this particular type of cell cycle, Cdk4 plays an indispensable and rate-limiting role
  • CDC25A phosphatase, which activates CDK2 and CDK1, is an oncogene that plays a rate-limiting role in initiation and progression of various tumors, including breast cancer

Current Projects

We are currently investigating roles of the cell cycle machinery in differentiation, tumorigenesis and apoptosis, by combinations of mouse models and molecular analyses.

For lab information and more, see Dr. Kiyokawa’s faculty profile.


See Dr. Kiyokawa's publications on PubMed.


Contact Dr. Kiyokawa at 312-503-0699.

Lab Staff

Technical Staff

Cade Brittain, Alison Rogozinski

Temporary Staff

Asia Owais

 Laimonis Laimins Lab

Molecular biology of human papillomaviruses (HPV) and their association with cervical cancer

Research Description

Our efforts are divided into two main categories:

  • An examination of how the viral oncoproteins E6 and E7 contribute to the development of malignancy
  • Studies on the mechanisms controlling the viral life cycle in differentiating epithelia

More than 100 distinct types of human papillomavirus have been identified and approximately one-third specifically target squamous epithelial cells in the genital tract. Of these genital papillomaviruses, a subset including types 16,18 and 31 have been shown to be the etiological agents of most cervical cancers.

One of our goals is to understand why infection by specific HPV types contributes to the development of malignancy. For these studies we have examined the interaction of the oncoproteins E6 and E7 with cellular proteins. In particular, E6 binds the p53 protein and facilitates its degradation by a ubiquitin-mediated pathway. It also activates telomerase as well as associates with PDZ-domain containing proteins. The interactions of the E6 and E7 proteins with these cellular proteins are being examined at both the biochemical and genetic level.

In examining the papillomavirus life cycle, we have used organotypic tissue culture systems to faithfully reproduce the differentiation program of epithelial cells in the laboratory. Using this system, the viral life cycle has been duplicated.  We are studying the mechanisms that regulate viral DNA replication, cell entry, immune evasion and gene expression. These studies should provide insight into viral pathogenesis as well as the mechanisms regulating epithelial differentiation.

For lab information and more, see Dr. Laimins' faculty profile and lab website.


See Dr. Laimins' publications on PubMed.


Contact Dr. Laimins at 312-503-0648 or the lab at 312-503-0650.

Lab Staff

Postdoctoral Fellows

Ekaterina Albert, Elona Gusho, Takeyuki Kono, Sreedhar Pujari

Technical Staff

Archit Ghosh, Paul Hoover, Paul Kaminski, Brian Studnicka

 Monica Laronda Lab

Pediatric Fertility & Hormone Preservation & Restoration

Research Description

Our research addresses fundamental regenerative medicine questions through the lens of reproductive biology. The main objective of our lab is to develop a patient-specific ovarian follicle niche that will support systemic endocrine function and fertility in women and girls who were sterilized by cancer treatments, have disorders of sex development or were exposed to other factors that could result in premature ovarian failure or sex hormone insufficiency. This research is a part of the Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital Fertility and Hormone Preservation and Restoration Program that bridges basic science, translational research and clinical practice.


See Dr. Laronda's publications in PubMed.


Email Dr. Laronda

 Daniela Matei Lab

Mechanisms of ovarian cancer metastasis and novel therapeutics for ovarian cancer

Research Description

My laboratory studies mechanisms of ovarian cancer metastasis and novel therapeutics for ovarian cancer. The general theme is translation between bench and clinic; with laboratory research forming the foundation for clinical experiments. 

One direction of investigation relates to the interaction between cancer cells and the peritoneal stroma.  We described the functions of tissue transglutaminase as an interacting partner of b-integrins and regulator of peritoneal metastasis.  Based on new mechanistic insight into the roles of this enzyme in ovarian cancer, we discovered and began characterizing new small molecule inhibitors for the transglutaminase-fibronectin-integrin interaction that are being developed as anti-cancer agents. We are studying these new inhibitors in-vitro and in in-vivo models of ovarian cancer metastasis.

Another area of research focusses on the characteristics and therapeutic vulnerabilities of ovarian cancer stem cells.  We used small molecule inhibitors that target ALDH1A1 to block the tumorigenic capacity of these cancer-initiating cells.  We are studying how ALDH1A1 inhibitors alter stem cell specific signaling and how ALDH1A1 is involved in maintaining the cancer stem cell properties. 

More recently we identified new metabolic alterations involving fatty acids desaturation in cancer stem cells.  We have targeted lipid metabolism using small molecule inhibitors and are studying the mechanisms by which these metabolic changes contribute to the maintenance and tumorigenicity of cancer stem cells.  Future goals are to refine the use of ALDH and fatty acid desaturases inhibitors to target cancer stem cells residual after chemotherapy and to eradicate the disease.

Another important direction of investigation is epigenetic modulation as a method of resensitization to platinum in ovarian cancer.  We successfully brought to the clinic the concept that epigenetic modulation re-sensitizes chemotherapy-resistant ovarian tumors to carboplatin.  I led a randomized multi-institutional clinical trial testing the effects of DNA hypomethylating agents and carboplatin compared to standard chemotherapy.  We are now analyzing the genome and epigenome of platinum resistant ovarian cancer using specimens from this trial.  We have identified several pathways that are associated with platinum resistance and respond to hypomethylating agents.  We have designed a new strategy to target pathway-specific DNA methylation and are testing the effects of this intervention on cell signaling and gene expression profiles in ovarian cancer cells.  


View Dr. Matei's publications on PubMed


Email Dr. Matei

Phone 312 503-4853

 Praveen Thumbikat Lab

Studying benign prostate diseases, chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome

Research Description

The focus of research in the laboratory is to understand the pathogenesis of genitourinary diseases with emphasis on benign prostate disease in humans. Inflammation is a significant finding in a variety prostate diseases including prostatitis, BPH and prostate cancer. We study microbial and autoimmune mediated inflammation and innate and adaptive immune mechanisms in prostate disease. A particular area of interest is chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), a debilitating medical condition characterized by dysuria and pain.  Projects in the lab use a combination of in vitro studies, animal models and clinical specimen assays to examine questions of interest such as the role of chemokines and T-cells in chronic pelvic pain.

For more information, see the faculty profile of Praveen Thumbikat, PhD.


View Dr. Thumbikat's publications at PubMed


Email Dr. Thumbikat

Phone 312-503-1050

 Margrit Urbanek Lab

Susceptibility genes for complex diseases

Research Description

Dr. Urbanek’s research focuses on the identification of susceptibility genes for complex diseases.  Her approach to this research is to use family-based gene-mapping techniques and population-based association studies in conjunction with molecular techniques to identify and verify genes and pathways contributing to the pathogenesis of genetically complex diseases. Specifically, she is carrying out studies to identify susceptibility genes for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that map to Chr19p3.13.  She has previously shown that this region shows linkage and association with PCOS in a large set of families.   Other projects focus on identifying candidate genes for gestational diabetes and glycemic control during pregnancy and identifying genetic variation contributing to extreme obesity

Research Topics

Identification of sequence variants in PCOS candidate genes
Identification of candidate genes for contributing glycemic control during pregnancy and to gestational diabetes
Genetic variation contributing to extreme obesity
Linkage and family-based association studies
Haplotype analysis
Genome-wide association studies

For more information, visit Dr. Urbanek's faculty profile page.


View Dr. Urbanek's publications at PubMed.


Email Dr. Urbanek.

Phone 312-503-3658

Lab Staff

Graduate Students

Lidija Gorsic

 Jindan Yu Lab

Understanding the genetic and epigenetic pathways to prostate cancer.

The Yu lab focuses on cancer genomics and translational cancer research.  At the current stage, our primary research interest is to understand aberrant transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of prostate cancer and to translate such knowledge into clinical applications.  We utilize high-throughput genomic techniques in combination with bioinformatics/statistical analysis to generate testable hypothesis.   We then test these hypotheses using traditional molecular and/or cellular biological approaches and examine the functional relevance of these innovative regulatory pathways in vitro and in vivo using cell lines and mouse models.  Based on the genetic and epigenetic underpinning of the disease, we pursue translational research to develop new biomarkers and novel therapeutics strategies for advanced prostate cancer.

Select Publications

Kim J, Lee Y, Lu X, Song B, Fong KW, Cao Q, Licht JD, Zhao JC, Yu J.  Polycomb- and Methylation-Independent Roles of EZH2 as a Transcription Activator.  Cell Reports. 2018 Dec 04. PMID: 30517868

Fong KW, Zhao JC, Song B, Zheng B, Yu J.  TRIM28 protects TRIM24 from SPOP-mediated degradation and promotes prostate cancer progression.  Nat Commun. 2018 Nov 27. PMID: 30479348

Fong KW, Zhao JC, Kim J, Li S, Yang YA, Song B, Rittie L, Hu M, Yang X, Perbal B, Yu JPolycomb-mediated disruption of an androgen receptor feedback loop drives castration-resistant prostate cancer.  CancerRes. 2016 Nov 4. PMID: 27815387

View all lab publications via PubMed.

For more information, visit the faculty profile page of Jindan Yu, MD/PhD or visit the Yu Laboratory website.

Contact Us

Contact Dr. Yu at 312-503-2980 or the Yu Lab at 312-503-3041.

Lab Staff

Will Ka-Wing Fong
Research Assistant Professor

Jonathan Zhao, MD, MS
Research Associate Professor

Nathan Damaschke, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Yongik Lee, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Xiaodong Lu, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Gang Zhen, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Xiaoyan Zhu, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Galina Gritsina
Graduate Student

Kevin Park
Graduate Student

Rakshitha Jagadish
Masters Student

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