Infertility is an inability to achieve a pregnancy and give live birth. In 2010, it was estimated that 48.5 million couples worldwide and 6.7 million women in the United States were unable to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term. Many factors increase the risk for infertility in females including exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC). Animal studies have shown that EDC exposure disrupts fertility in ways that mimic effects seen in human populations. Therefore, the ability of EDCs to cause infertility has become an issue of significant interest to scientists, policy makers, and the public. There is, therefore, a critical need to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms of action of EDCs that cause infertility. This knowledge will help remove present barriers slowing down our progress towards identifying, preventing and treating EDC-induced infertility.
Dr. Zelieann R. Craig's overall goal is to contribute towards reducing the incidence of infertility by improving our understanding of how EDCs interact with the female reproductive system. Therefore, the objective of Dr. Craig's research program is to identify EDCs that target the ovary and characterize the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which they influence the ability of ovarian follicles to sustain hormonal homeostasis and ovulate healthy eggs. To fulfil this objective, Dr. Craig and her team have developed two main research focus areas which investigate: (1) the mechanisms by which the EDCs influence ovarian follicle survival and death pathways, and (2) the effects of EDCs on the expression of ovarian cancer susceptibility genes.
Dr. Craig has also strategically designed her teaching and service activities to also enhance the career development of current and future undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in reproduction and environmental health sciences.