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Get the Inside Scoop on our CRS Summit Speakers – Spotlight on Drs. Ulrike Luderer, Marty Matzuk and Chris Geyer!

By: Chelsea Castleberry, CRS Program Assistant, May 22nd, 2018

Our Planning Committee has been busy getting to know our distinguished speakers in preparation for the 2018 Reproductive Science and Medicine Summit, which will take place on Friday, June 1st in Prentice Women’s Hospital, Chicago. Featured in this CRS News Story are interviews with Drs. Ulrike Luderer, Marty Matzuk, and Chris Geyer. Register by Friday, May 25th for the 2018 Summit and have the opportunity to interact with these vibrant leaders in reproductive science and medicine!

Ulrike Luderer

Ulrike Luderer, MD, PhD, MPH Professor of Medicine, Developmental and Cell Biology, and Public Health, Director, Environmental Health Sciences Graduate Program, Interim Chief Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Director, Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of California Irvine

Dr. Luderer, our 2018 CRS Alumni Lecturer, was interviewed by Emma Gargus, MD/PhD Candidate in the Woodruff Lab:

What science topic are you the most excited to see develop in the future?

Transgenerational effects of exposure to toxicants - this is an emerging field, with in utero exposure to several environmental agents now demonstrated to cause heritable transmission of various adverse health outcomes including obesity and reproductive disorders. Transmission appears to be epigenetically mediated, but we do not yet have anything like a detailed understanding of the mechanisms.

Why/how did you choose your current career path?

I was already very interested in how the environment impacts health and in women's health issues during high school and college, but didn't really consider connecting the two until I was working on my PhD in reproductive endocrinology at Northwestern. I went to hear a talk by an occupational medicine physician about her work studying reproductive effects of pesticide exposure in farm workers. That's when I started exploring the possibility of an academic position in occupational and environmental medicine with a research focus on reproductive toxicology, which is what I ultimately decided to pursue and am doing today.

What is your worst lab mishap?

Getting lost while taking invited speaker and Nobel laureate Rosalyn Yalow back to her hotel. We eventually made it there, and she was very gracious about the detour.

What hobbies do you have outside of the lab? ​

Cooking. Cycling, hiking, skiing, swimming. Going to art museums and galleries. Traveling. 

How did you overcome any gender-related roadblocks in your career? 

I sought out strong women mentors especially during my graduate and post-graduate training and as a new assistant professor. Their perspectives and advice were invaluable.


Marty MatzukMartin M. Matzuk, MD, PhD Director of the Center for Drug Discovery, Stuart A. Wallace Chair and Professor, Robert L. Moody, Sr. Chair, Department of Pathology & Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, and Director of Clinical Chemistry, Ben Taub Hospital

Dr. Matzuk, who will be presenting in Session #1 “Translation Perspectives and Clinical Applications” was interviewed by Christia Sison, PhD Candidate in the Bulun Lab:

What science topic are you the most excited to see develop in the future?

Overall, I am interested in seeing drugs developed for a wide variety of healthcare issues with an emphasis on reproductive medicine therapeutics.

Why/how did you choose your current career path?

I became interested in biology as a high school student. I then received a B.A. with Honors in Biology at the University of Chicago and worked with Professor Nicholas Cozzarelli on topoisomerases and recombination enzymes, giving me my first experiences with recombinant DNA and molecular biology. During my MD/PhD training at Washington University in St. Louis, my research with Professor Irving Boime focused on structure-function studies of the glycoprotein hormones and peaked my interest in reproductive medicine and therapeutics. My interests in mouse genetics were initiated during my postdoctoral fellowship and refined over my last 25 years on faculty at Baylor College of Medicine. The last six years, I have been Director of the Center for Drug Discovery at Baylor; my interests in chemistry and drug discovery began as a child through my interactions with my father, a former medicinal chemist at Merck.

What is your worst lab mishap?

There are two memorable experiences. During my PhD, a Styrofoam box accidently caught fire and spewed ashes everywhere in the lab; it was well-contained and there were no major issues. As a Professor, Tropical Storm Allison flooded our mouse facility and 500 cages of mice drowned; the NIH and community support was amazing and allowed us to recover quickly.

What hobbies do you have outside of the lab?

I swim all year round outside and go to Houston Astros and Houston Rockets games, and my family and I are avid scuba divers.


Chris GeyerChristopher Geyer, PhD Associate Professor, Society for the Study of Reproduction New Investigator Award 2017, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine

Dr. Geyer, who will be presenting in Session #3 “Key Players in Reproduction & Development” was interviewed by Nisan Hubbard, PhD Candidate in the Mayo Lab:

What science topic are you the most excited to see develop in the future? 

I guess I favor a return to a focus on fundamental biological processes rather than chasing fads or tasking basic scientists with curing diseases.

Why/how did you choose your current career path? 

It probably chose me more than the other way around! Science is one of the few things I have ever been very good at!

What is your worst lab mishap? 

Many years ago, when I worked as a lab technician I cracked a sink by putting dry ice in it…

What hobbies do you have outside of the lab? 

Hunting/fishing, camping, running, spending time with wife and kids.

Why did you choose to pursue your field? 

Because the people who study reproductive biology are great! I enjoyed the field so much as a grad student because the topic is so interesting, but also because of the friendly and welcoming colleagues who, in part, caused me to continue working in this area.

Any advice to aspiring trainees interested in Academia? 

Work hard, of course. But also network, a lot! At the end of the day, science is a people business – people make decisions on hiring, funding, accepting papers, etc. The more people you know (and who know you) the better off you’ll be. And become a better writer – that is becoming such a lost skill, in my opinion.

What do you feel is your best accomplishment? 

It depends on the year, I guess – at first it was just landing a tenure-track job, then getting the first paper published out of my lab, then getting the first NIH grant, then winning some awards, then getting tenure, then getting some more grants… in the end, I think it will be contributing a solid body of work that future scientists can build upon.

What is a day in the life of Dr. Geyer like? 

Help get 2 kids on the bus in AM, head to work… exercise every night, and try not to work after I get home if I can help it – so that I can spend time with family – I’m usually either hitting a volleyball with my daughter or kicking a soccer ball with my son most nights.