Buffy Ellsworth, PhD

Associate Professor
Molecular and Integrative Physiology

    About me

    Research Interests

    Forkhead transcription factors have been implicated in tumor formation, chromatin remodeling, and cell fate determination. We are interested in the role forkhead factors play in pituitary gland development and function. Using genetically engineered mice as a model system, we are studying how forkhead factors regulate gene expression, organ patterning, and cell specification during embryonic development and pituitary function in the adult.

    The experimental techniques used in our laboratory include immunohistochemical analysis and in situ hybridization on embryonic pituitary from knockout mice, real-time RT-PCR, transient transfection of immortalized cell lines, and primary culture of mouse pituitary cells.



    Education & training

    Doctorate Degree
    PhD, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO, Cell and Molecular Biology
    Graduate Degree
    MS, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, Biology
    Undergraduate Degree
    BS, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, Biological Science
    BS, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, General Chemistry
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, Human Genetics

    Academic Location

    Academic Office

    1135 Lincoln Dr Carbondale, IL 62901
    Mail Code: 6523


    • Stallings CE, Ellsworth BS. 2018 Premature Expression of FOXO1 in Developing Mouse Pituitary Results in Anterior Lobe Hypoplasia. Endocrinology, 159:2891-2904.
    • Cheung LYM, George AS, McGee SR, Daly AZ, Brinkmeier ML, Ellsworth BS, Camper SA. 2018 Single-Cell RNA Sequencing Reveals Novel Markers of Male Pituitary Stem Cells and Hormone-Producing Cell Types. Endocrinology 159:3910-3924.
    • Ellsworth BS, Stallings CE. 2018 Molecular Mechanisms Governing Embryonic Differentiation of Pituitary Somatotropes. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 29:510-523.
    • Edwards BS, Clay CM, Ellsworth BS, Navratil AM. 2017 Functional Role of Gonadotrope Plasticity and Network Organization. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 8:223.
    • Camper SA, Daly AZ, Stallings CE, Ellsworth BS. 2017 Hypothalamic b-Catenin is Essential for FGF8-Mediated Anterior Pituitary Growth: Links to Human Disease. Endocrinology, 158:3322-3324.
    • Kapali J, Kabat BE, Schmidt KL, Stallings CE, Tippy M, Jung DO, Edwards BS, Nantie LB, Raetzman LT, Navratil AM, Ellsworth BS. 2016 Foxo1 is Required for Normal Somatotrope Differentiation. Endocrinology, 157:43514363.
    • Ellsworth BS. 2016 Pituitary Regeneration: It’ll Knock Your SOX Off! Endocrinology, 157:452-454.
    • Stallings CE, Kapali J, Ellsworth BS. 2016 Mouse Models of Gonadotrope Development. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci, 143:1-48.
    • Calderon MJ, Ploegman AG, Bailey B, Jung DO, Navratil AM, Ellsworth BS. 2015 Loss of Foxm1 Results in Reduced Somatotrope Cell Number during Mouse Embryogenesis. PLoS ONE, 10:e0128942.
    • Jasurda JS, Jung DO, Froeter ED, Schwarz DB, Hopkins TD, Farris CL, McGee S, Narayan P, Ellsworth BS. 2014 The Forkhead Transcription Factor, FOXP3: A Critical Role in Male Fertility. Biology of Reproduction, 90:4.
    • COVER: Histological stains demonstrating the drastic reduction in seminiferous tubule size, germ cell maturation and Leydig cell (brown) number in mice containing a loss of function mutation of the forkhead transcription factor, Foxp3. These mice exhibit hypogonadotropic hypogonadism due to loss of pituitary gonadotropin production.
    • Tran S, Zhou X, Lafleur C, Calderon MJ, Ellsworth BS, Kimmins S, Boehm U, Treier M, Boerboom D, Bernard DJ. 2013 Impaired Fertility and FSH Synthesis in Gonadotrope-Specific Foxl2 Knockout Mice. Molecular Endocrinology, 27:407-421.
    • Davis SW, Ellsworth BS, Perez Millan MI, Gergics P, Schade V, Foyouzi N, Brinkmeier ML, Mortensen AH, Camper SA. 2013 Pituitary gland development and disease: from stem cell to hormone production. Current Topics in Developmental Biology, 106:1-47.
    • Ellsworth BS. 2013 Obesity: A Somatotrope Perspective. Endocrinology, 154:1390.
    • Jung DO, Jasurda JS, Egashira N, Ellsworth BS. 2012 The Forkhead Transcription Factor, FOXP3, Is Required for Normal Pituitary Gonadotropin Expression in Mice. Biology of Reproduction, 86:144.
    • Gumbel JH, Patterson EM, Owusu SA, Kabat BE, Jung DO, Simmons J, Hopkins T, Ellsworth BS. 2012 The Forkhead Transcription Factor, Foxd1, is Necessary for Pituitary Luteinizing Hormone Expression in Mice. PLoS ONE, 7:e52156.
    • Majumdar S, Farris CL, Kabat BE, Jung DO, Ellsworth BS. 2012 Forkhead Box O1 is Increased in Embryonic Pituitary in the Absence of p27kip1. PLoS ONE, 7:e52136.
    • Carvalho LR, Brinkmeier ML, Castinetti F, Ellsworth BS, Camper SA. 2010 Corepressors TLE1 and TLE3 Interact with HESX1 and PROP1. Molecular Endocrinology, 24:754-765.
    • Yang WH, Gutierrez N, Wang L, Ellsworth BS, Wang CM. 2010 Synergistic Activation of the Mc2r Promoter by FOXL2 and NR5A1 in Mice. Biology of Reproduction, 83:842-851.
    • Davis SW, Castinetti F, Carvalho LR, Ellsworth BS, Potok MA, Lyons RH, Brinkmeier ML, Raetzman LT, Carnici P, Mortensen AH, Hayashizaki Y, Arnhold IJP, Mendonca BB, Brue T, Camper SA. 2009 Molecular mechanisms of pituitary organogenesis: In search of novel regulatory genes. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 323:4-19.
    • Ellsworth BS, Butts DL, Camper SA. 2008 Mechanisms Underlying Pituitary Hypoplasia and Dorsalization of Pre-gonadotropes in Lhx3 Deficient Mice. Developmental Biology, 313:118-129.
    • Tian G, Singh U, Yu Y, Ellsworth BS, Hemberger M, Geyer R, Stewart MD, Behrigner RR, Fundele R. 2008 Expression and function of the LIM homeobox containing genes Lhx3 and Lhx4 in the mouse placenta. Developmental Dynamics, 237:1517-1525.
    • Hertzano R, Dror A, Montcouquiol M, Ahmed Z, Ellsworth B, Camper S, Friedman TB, Kelley MW, Avraham K. 2007 Lhx3, a LIM domain transcription factor, is regulated by POU4F3 in the auditory, but not in the vestibular system. European Journal of Neuroscience 25:999-1005.
    • Ellsworth BS, Egashira N, Haller J, Butts DL, Cocquet J, Clay CM, Osamura RY, Camper SA. 2006 FOXL2 in the Pituitary: Genetic, Molecular and Developmental Analysis. Molecular Endocrinology 20:2796-2805.
    • Ellsworth BS, Escudero KW, Burns AT, Duval DL, Nelson SE, Clay CM 2003 The gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor activating sequence (GRAS) is a composite regulatory element that interacts with multiple classes of transcription factors including Smads, AP-1 and a forkhead DNA binding protein. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 206:93-111.
    • Ellsworth BS, White BR, Burns AT, Cherrington BD, Otis AM, Clay CM 2003 c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation of AP-1 underlies homologous regulation of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor gene in aT3-1 cells. Endocrinology 144:839-849.
    • Duval DL, Ellsworth BS, Clay CM 1999 Is gonadotrope expression of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor gene mediated by autocrine/paracrine stimulation of an activin response element? Endocrinology 140:1949-1952.



    • 1997 - 2000 Biotechnology Training Grant, United States Department of Agriculture
    • 2000 Travel Award, Women in Endocrinology
    • 2000 Travel Award, Neuroendocrinology Satellite Meeting of the International Congress of Endocrinology, Coffs Harbour, Australia
    • 2001 Travel Grant Award, The Endocrine Society
    • 2003 University of Michigan Reproductive Sciences Program Postdoctoral Fellowship, T32 Training Grant, NIH
    • 2004 - 2006 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, NIH: National Institute of Child Heath & Human Development
    • 2008 Faculty Seed Grant, SIUC Office of Research Development and Administration
    • 2008 Outstanding Mentor Award, McNair Scholar Program
    • 2009 Starter Grant, SIU Central Research Committee
    • 2012 Excellence in Academic Medicine Award, SIU School of Medicine
    • 2012 Invited talk: The forkhead Transcription Factor, Foxp3, is Required for Normal Pituitary Function. Session: The Foxy Pituitary: Emerging Roles for Forkhead Transcription
    • Factors in Gonadotrope Development and Function., The Society for the Study of Reproduction
    • 2013 Near Miss Award, SIU School of Medicine
    • 2013 Invited talk: Forkhead Transcription Factors in Pituitary Development. Session: The Secret Lives of Gonadotropes., The Endocrine Society Ann. Mtg. San Francisco, CA
    • 2017 Invited talk: The Role of FOXO Transcription Factors in Somatotrope Differentiation and Function, Life Science Seminar Series. South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD

    Related articles

    Ellsworth lab

    SIU medical researchers seek causes, solutions for pituitary-related conditions

    About one in 4,000 children are born with a deficiency of one or more pituitary hormones that results in a wide variety of health issues. Dr. Buffy Ellsworth at SIU School of Medicine in Carbondale is part of an extensive $2.77 million multi-university grant-funded research project to unravel the mystery of how congenital hypopituitarism (CH) occurs.