Skip to main content

Dr. Joan Jorgensen delivers the 2021 Dr. Danielle Maatouk Memorial Lecture

joan-jorgensen.jpegOn April 15th, the 2021 Danielle Maatouk Memorial Lectureship was delivered by Dr. Joan Jorgensen, PhD, DVM, Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Biosciences School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Jorgensen presented an enlightening talk titled, “The Journey of Iroquois Factors from Progenitor Granulosa Cell to Primordial Follicle in the Developing Ovary”, where she covered the emerging role of Iroquois factors in ovarian differentiation and how these factors contribute to our understanding of signaling pathways that regulate female gonad development.

Each year CRS celebrates the life and scientific contributions of Dr. Danielle Maatouk, PhD, an exceptional scientist who studied epigenomic regulation of gene expression and cell fate determination during fetal development. Dr. Maatouk’s insightful work helped elucidate regulatory factors that are important to sex determination and differentiation and CRS honors her scientific legacy by hosting luminaries in the field of sex determination and differentiation. This year CRS had the pleasure of virtually hosting Dr. Jorgensen whose work has expanded our understanding of regulatory factors in gonadal differentiation. Iroquois factors are a group of transcriptional regulatory factors that have wide ranging roles in embryonic development and exhibit female sex specific roles in gonadal morphogenesis. Dovetailing with Dr. Maatouk’s discoveries of the role of Wnt/b-catenin signaling in the development of the female gonad, Dr. Jorgensen’s team’s research has now uncovered that Wnt/b-catenin signaling plays a role in regulating Iroquois factors. Dr. Jorgensen’s work also delves into uncovering the epigenomic landscape of Iroquois factors and how they are differentially regulated in the male and female gonad. These contributions add new pieces to the puzzle of female sex determination and differentiation indicating that the female sex determination pathway is anything but passive or default in nature.  

Dr. Jorgensen’s comprehensive presentation was a wonderful venture into the cutting edge of what is known about mechanisms that contribute to gonad development and the signaling pathways that are integral to cell and tissue differentiation. Dr. Maatouk’s legacy is not only preserved in her lasting contributions to our understanding of sex determination and differentiation pathways but her torch continues to light the way for her colleagues as well as junior reproductive researchers.