Molecular and cellular analysis of mammalian ovary development and disease

Project Details

The ovary plays a major role in women’s health. Women’s health has long been a concern for the World Health Organization, but today it has become a priority. Women’s health challenges include ovarian-related diseases such as premature ovarian failure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, female infertility and ovarian cancer. Women’s health during the reproductive or fertile years is relevant not only to women themselves, but also has an impact on the health and develop­ment of the next generation. In addition to the reproductive and psychosocial problems, they often create a more complex health condition in women, with secondary complications including the risk of premature development of osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, heart disease and even diabetes, thereby presenting a major healthcare burden.

Although the function and physiology of the adult ovary has been investigated in great detail, we know very little about the genes that control its development and early differentiation. This project tests the hypothesis that dysregulation of early foetal ovarian developmental genes results in ovarian disease such as premature ovarian failure and female infertility.


Dr Dan Bird, Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Mr Jeremy Le, Master student

Mr Cameron McHeyzer,  Master student


Dr Marie-Christine Chaboissier, University of Nice-Sofia Antipolis
Dr Joan Jorgensen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Dr Patrick Western, Hudson Institute
Prof JoAnne Richards, Baylor College of Medicine, USA


NHMRC project grant: "Cellular and molecular regulation of fetal ovary development"

Research Publications

  • Liu Z, Ren YA, Pangas SA, Castrillon D, Wilhelm D, Richards JS. FOXO1/3 and PTEN depletion in granulosa cells promotes ovarian granulosa cell tumor development. Mol Endocrinol 2015; 29: 1006-1024.
  • Hummitzsch K, Anderson RA, Wilhelm D, Wu J, Telfer EE, Russell DL, Robertson SA, Rodgers RJ. Stem cells, progenitor cells and lineage decisions in the ovary. Endocrine Reviews 2015; 36: 65-91.
  • Smith P, Wilhelm D, Rodgers RJ. Development of mammalian ovary. J Endocrinol 2014; 221: R145-R161.
  • Rastetter RH, Bernard P, Palmer JS, Chassot A, Chen H, Western PS, Ramsey RG, Chaboissier MC, Wilhelm D. Marker genes identify three somatic cell types in the fetal mouse ovary. Dev Biol 2014; 394: 242-252.
  • Hummitzsch K, Irving-Rogers HF, Hatzirodos N, Bonner W, Sabatier L, Reinhardt DP, Sado Y, Ninomiya Y, Wilhelm D, Rodgers RJ. A new model of development of the mammalian ovary and follicles. PLoS ONE 2013; 8: e55578.
  • Chen H*, Palmer JS*, Thiagarajan RD, Dinger ME, Lesieur E, Chiu H, Schulz A, Spiller C, Grimmond SM, Little MH, Koopman P, Wilhelm D. Identification of novel markers of mouse fetal ovary development. PLoS ONE 2012; 7: e41683.

Research Group

Wilhelm laboratory: Gonad Development and Fertility

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Stem Cells

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Physiology

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