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How female reproduction, longevity could be linked is focus of new Buck Institute for Research on Aging center

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging has hired the first faculty for what the Novato-based research facility calls a “first of its kind in the world” center for the study of reproduction, longevity and equality for women.

Lei Lei, Ph.D.; Shiying Jin, Ph.D.; Francesca Duncan; Ph.D.; and Jennifer Garrison, Ph.D., are becoming part of the institute’s Center for Female Reproductive Longevity and Equality. Work of the center will focus on “preventing or delaying ovarian aging.”

Beyond losing the ability to reproduce, “the end of female fertility sets off a cascade of negative health effects, and early menopause has been shown to correlate with early morbidity,” the center stated.

Lei, who has been appointed as associate professor and scientific director of the center, joins the Buck from the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Jin, also from the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan Medical School, will be assistant professor of the Novato center.

The institute said his research focuses on maintaining female fertility, specifically by engineering ovarian tissue to protect and store young oocytes. Garrison, a Buck institute neuroscientist, is exploring the role of intertissue communication between the brain and reproductive organs in ovarian aging.

Duncan, an expert in ovarian aging in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, will also join the center as an adjunct professor.

The new center was established with a $6 million gift from Bay Area tech entrepreneur, attorney and philanthropist Nicole Shanahan and the Sergey Brin Family Foundation.

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