UMass Boston biology professor earns additional NICHD grant to study fertility in zebrafish

Within months after receiving a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to look at the connection between the ends of zebrafish chromosomes and infertility, Assistant Professor of Biology Kellee Siegfried received another NICHD grant to identify genes important for fertility by studying mutant zebrafish.

"Because fish and humans have most of the same genes and similar processes that regulate testicular and ovarian function, our work will be applicable broadly across fish and other animals, including humans," Siegfried said.

The NICHD awarded Siegfried and her collaborator Katrin Henke of Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School $170,522 over the course of two years for their project, Identification of Genetic Factors Contributing to Germline Stem Cell Maintenance. Siegfried said Henke, a developmental geneticist, will be analyzing the data from Siegfried's lab.

"What we're trying to do is understand why the fish become infertile, what the underlying defect is, and also what the genes are in causing that, so that we can understand the process better generally," Siegfried said. "Often what we do is we take the tissue from the fish and we make very thin slices of it and then we do some stains on it and then we can look at it under the microscope-how it looks, what's the difference in the structure between mutant [zebrafish], are there cell types missing, that kind of thing."

Graduate student Kazi Islam of Bangladesh and two undergraduate biology students are working with Siegfried on this project.