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Impacts of environmental toxicants on female fertility and offspring health

A major neglected environmental issue is contamination from synthetic chemicals. These chemicals encompass a vast and rapidly growing number of toxicants, including plasticisers and pesticides, used by industry and households, that are detectable in our ecosystems. Understanding the effects of these chemicals on female fertility, specifically ovarian physiology, is vital because the ovary is the site of steroid hormone production, and importantly, where the eggs are located that will give rise to the next generation. Our research has shown that eggs are exquisitely sensitive to changes in their surroundings, in particular the exposure to toxicants, at concentrations found in the environment. For the female of many species, perturbations caused by toxicants result not only in reproductive disorders, such as infertility and premature ovarian failure, but also in nonreproductive metabolic and health-related diseases. Of further concern is that these adverse effects can also be passed on to offspring. Thus, it is clear that exposure to environmental toxicants can have direct effects on female fertility and health, as well as affect that of subsequent generations. Specifically, using animal models we will determine the reproductive and heath impact of environmentally relevant concentrations of environmental toxicants, when exposure occurs continuously over multiple generations. We use a variety of techniques, including super ovulation, qRT-PCR, Western blotting, stereology, immunofluorescence, in situ hybridisation, 3D confocal imaging and ELISA. We also have expertise in the design of long-term fertility trials in mice, and the analyses of offspring health.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
Fertility, reproduction, development, ovary, oocyte, embryo, pregnancy, offspring health, DNA damage, toxicants, pesticides.
Biomedicine Discovery Institute (School of Biomedical Sciences) » Anatomy and Developmental Biology
Available options 
Time commitment 
Top-up scholarship funding available 
Physical location 
Monash Clayton Campus
Assoc Prof 
Karla Hutt

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