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Joseph Kurian, PhD

Assistant Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology


Our reproductive and metabolic health depends heavily on interactions that we have with our environment. We study how environmental conditions impair fertility and promote metabolic dysfunction; e.g., obesity and diabetes. In addition, we investigate how disruption of metabolic tissue function relates to reproductive dysfunction whereas promotion of metabolic health leads to improved fertility.

We focus on the development and function of specialized neurons (Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)) within the hypothalamus of the brain that control reproductive function. Our research has uncovered a unique molecular mechanism responsible for the development and maintenance of GnRH neuron activity. We are now studying how this mechanism is effected by environmental conditions such as exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (e.g., Bisphenol A) or physical conditions (e.g., obesity, type 2 diabetes, and Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder). Our ultimate goal is to better understand these effects so we can develop effective treatments for infertility.

We are beginning to study the development and activity of adipose (fat) tissue. Adipose is increasingly considered an endocrine tissue that secretes factors that communicate with the neuroendocrine hypothalamus. Our research will focus on how adipose tissue adapts to environmental conditions and how fat signals to the brain under normal and pathological conditions.

We are a multidisciplinary laboratory that studies neuroendocrine systems and related tissue biology using multiple strategies at several levels of biological organization including single cells to whole animals and human beings. An expanding list of current techniques include:

  • Cell culture (neurons, cell lines, adipose derived stem cells)
  • Mouse models, including cre/lox genetic manipulations
  • Human primary tissue and specimen (e.g., blood and stool) models
  • Flow cytometry
  • ChIP assays
  • DNA methylation analyses
  • ChIP-seq
  • RNA-seq
  • Western blotting
  • Co-immunoprecipitations
  • Mass spectrometry (protein identification)
  • Perifusion (cell communication and secreted factor assays)
  • Quantitative PCR
  • Crispr/cas9 mediated gene disruption (cell lines)
  • Transient transfections (mRNA knock down or over expression, genetic variant creation and evaluations)
  • Mouse reproductive physiology measures (development and fecundity)
  • Mouse Behavioral monitoring


2009-2014 Assistant Scientist, Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, Neuroendocrinology, Epigenetics, 2006-2009, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Epigenetics, Behavioral Neuroscience, 2006 Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Molecular Toxicology, 2001 BS, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Biological Psychology