Environmental Factor

September 2011

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Arizona grantee honored for mentoring

By Eddy Ball
September 2011

Patricia Hoyer, Ph.D.

Like her own students, Hoyer benefited from mentoring during her graduate work at the University of Wyoming and her NIH postdoctoral fellowship at Colorado State University. Prior to her NIEHS funding, she received early career support as an NIH Career Development Awardee. (Photo courtesy of Patricia Hoyer)

NIEHS grantee(http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/portfolio/index.cfm?action=portfolio.grantdetail&grant_number=R01ES009246) Patricia Hoyer, Ph.D., was honored with the 2011 Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) Trainee-Mentoring Award, during the group's annual meeting July 31-Aug. 4 in Portland, Ore.

Hoyer(http://physiology.arizona.edu/person/patricia-b-hoyer) Exit NIEHS is a professor in the Department of Physiology at The University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine and a researcher in the UA Center for Toxicology and the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center. Additionally, she is principal director of an NIH-sponsored T32 training grant(http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/portfolio/index.cfm?action=portfolio.grantdetail&grant_number=T32ES007091) titled “Graduate training in systems and integrative physiology.”

The trainee-mentoring award recognizes Hoyer as a mentor who has consistently demonstrated a measure of support and guidance to trainees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral level that far exceeds the basic responsibilities required of an academic advisor. According to the award website, an additional criterion for the award is that “the nominee has demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge of and passion for reproductive biology and its implications in the broader world of scientific research.”

Collectively, Hoyer has trained 25 postdoctoral fellows, and predoctoral and masters students, and has served on the committees of over 80 others.

When he learned of Hoyer's award, the administrator of her grant, NIEHS Cellular, Organ, and Systems Pathobiology Branch Chief Jerry Heindel, Ph.D., said he was gratified to see her mentoring recognized. “One of the goals of all of our funding at NIEHS is to advance the training of the next generation of biomedical researchers, and high-quality mentoring, as exemplified by Dr. Hoyer's success with students, is key to reaching that goal.”

Reproductive life span as a global health concern

The theme of the 44th Annual Meeting of SSR(http://www.ssr.org/Meetings.shtml) Exit NIEHS was, appropriately enough, “Reproduction and the World's Future,” a theme that parallels the research into signaling pathways in chemically induced ovotoxicity supported by Hoyer's grant. Her group studies the mechanisms by which exposure to environmental chemicals can cause a depletion of the finite pool of primordial follicles. Depletion of this pool can lead to premature ovarian failure, or early menopause in women, which is associated with a variety of health disorders and chronic diseases.

Hoyer is studying the chemical 4-vinylcyclohexene and its diepoxide metabolite, VCD, for insights into the effects on ovaries and to characterize the pathways that protect against follicle loss caused by VCD. “The ultimate aim,” she wrote in her grant summary, “is to fully understand and identify solutions to prevent premature ovarian failure occurring due to xenobiotic exposures in females.”

According to Hoyer, one objective of her research is to promote a greater awareness of ovarian failure caused by xenobiotic exposures in females, to increase appreciation of the global public health impact of the environment on the reproductive life span in women. Menopause-associated disorders include osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and ovarian cancer - diseases that are on the increase worldwide.

Hoyer's initial NIEHS grant award was made in 1998, and it was renewed last year through 2012.

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