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Biomedical Sciences
Joanne Fortune, M.S., Ph.D.
James Law Professor of Physiology

. Faculty .
Faculty Photo Phone: 607 253 3466
Fax: 607 253 3476

My research is focused on the hormonal regulation of the differentiation and function of ovarian follicles. The mammalian ovary contains a pool of non-growing, primordial follicles; we are studying the signals that stimulate follicles to leave this resting pool and initiate growth, as well as factors that inhibit the initiation of growth. The conditions that allow continued follicular growth in vitro, especially the transition from primary to secondary follicles are also an area of current interest.

The mechanisms by which a few follicles are selected to complete development and ovulate are also of particular interest and we are studying the role of changes in the IGF system in this critical stage in follicular differentiation. I am particularly interested in the differentiation and relative roles of the two endocrine cell types in the follicle, the theca and granulosa cells, and in the relative roles of the two pituitary gonadotropins, LH and FSH, in the regulation of follicular function. We are elucidating some of the interactions between these two cell types by isolating and culturing theca and granulosa cells from follicles at defined stages of follicular development. Currently, those studies are focused on the differentiation of the two cell types, and their roles in the changes in production of hormones such as progesterone, oxytocin, and prostaglandins, during the period just before ovulation.

Cattle are the primary animal model for these studies. A variety of techniques, ranging from ultrasonography to monitor the growth and regression of follicles over time in vivo, classical endocrine methods (i.e., immunoassay), and histological morphometry to analyses at the molecular level, are employed in experiments in vivo and in vitro.


Publications are listed in PubMed.




  • BIOAP 214 The Biological Basis of Sex Differences
  • BIOAP 757 Current Concepts in Reproductive Biology
  • BIOAP 499 Independent Research or Honors Projects