Two veteran Baylor College of Medicine researchers will receive the two top awards from the Society for the Study of Reproduction when the group holds its annual meeting July 31–Aug. 4 in Portland, Ore.

Dr. JoAnne S. Richards, a distinguished professor in the BCM Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, will receive the Carl G. Hartman Award, the society's highest award given in recognition of a research career and scholarly activities in the field of reproductive biology. Dr. Francesco J. DeMayo, also a professor in the BCM Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, will receive the SSR Research Award that recognizes an active, regular member of the society for outstanding research published during the previous six years.

"These two awards demonstrate the breadth and depth of research going on at Baylor College of Medicine in the area of reproductive medicine," said Dr. Bert O'Malley, chair of molecular and cellular biology at BCM and a former Hartman award winner.

Working for better detection, treatments "I am excited and humbled by this recognition," said Richards, whose work focuses on ovarian cell differentiation, ovulation and cancer. Her current research focuses on several animal models of ovarian cancer and she now focuses her research in the area of ovary formation, how endocrine signals and genes regulate follicular growth and follicular cell function and how ovulation occurs. Her laboratory's goal is to provide translational information for better detection, screening and cancer treatment strategies for women with ovarian cancer. 

She received her bachelor's degree from Oberlin College in Ohio and her master's and Ph.D. from Brown University in Providence, RI. She did her postdoctoral work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and was a member of the faculty there until 1981, when she came to BCM. 

She has received the SSR Research Award, the Basic Research Award from the Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research, the Pioneer Lecture Award from the Frontiers in Reproduction Course of the National Institutes of Health, the Women in Endocrinology Mentor Award and the Michael E. DeBakey Award in Research Excellence in 2009.

Progesterone, uterine function

DeMayo said that the work for which he was recognized involves the study of how progesterone regulates uterine function and implantation - a goal sought by numerous investigators since the 1970s. He also has developed many novel mouse models to dissect molecular pathways and for the study of endometrial cancer.

"The strength of our research in reproductive biology has been one of Baylor's best kept secrets," said DeMayo.

DeMayo received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University and his master's and Ph.D. from Michigan State University in East Lansing in 1983 and came to BCM in 1986. He is co-director and will soon become director of BCM's Center for Reproductive Biology Research, which is part of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction and Infertility Research. He was a recipient of the Michael e. DeBakey Excellence in Research Awards for 2006.

This year's winner of the Society's Young Investigator Award is Dr. Derek Boerboom, professor at the Université de Montréal in the Department of Veterinary Biomedicine. Boerboom did his postdoctoral studies at BCM as well.

For more information on awards, go to Society for the Study of Reproduction.