Epidemiology, Environment, & Reproduction
- Anne Marie Z. Jukic, Ph.D.
- Tel 984-287-3699
- P.O. Box 12233Mail Drop A3-05Durham, N.C. 27709
The Fertility and Reproductive Health Group is led by Anne Marie Z. Jukic, Ph.D., and focuses on factors that influence reproductive function (e.g. follicle development and menstrual cycles), conception, implantation, placental development, and pregnancy outcomes. Given the financial and emotional burden of subfertility and pregnancy loss, this research has broad and immediate public health relevance.
Approximately 6.7 million (11%) U.S. women of reproductive age have impaired fecundity and 1.5 million are estimated to be infertile (Zou et al. 2018). Menstrual cycles are an indicator of general health (ACOG 2015) and menstrual cycle disturbances may predict difficulties in conceiving a pregnancy (Baird et al. 1999; Brown 2011). Moreover, women with menstrual cycle irregularities may be treated with hormonal contraception (Wang et al. 2011), and there are currently no alternatives for women who desire non-hormonal options to regulate their cycles.
Vitamin D is known for its role in bone health, but its role in reproduction is a flourishing area of research (Jukic and Harmon 2020). Low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) (what clinicians measure to identify vitamin D deficiency) have been associated with lower pregnancy conception rates (Jukic et al. 2019; Mumford et al. 2018). Low levels of vitamin D are common in the U.S., especially among African-American and Hispanic women where rates of insufficiency are 90% and 84%, respectively (Holick et al. 2011; Schleicher et al. 2016). The Fertility and Reproductive Health Group has published several studies (Jukic et al. 2015; Jukic et al. 2016; Jukic et al. 2018) that found increased risk of menstrual cycle and ovulation disturbances with lower levels of 25OHD. Importantly, in two of these studies either all (Jukic et al. 2016), or a majority of (Jukic et al. 2015) the participants were African-American. Jukic recently received a Bench-to-Bedside award to support a clinical trial that further investigates the role of vitamin D in reproduction. The Fertility and Reproductive Health Group is also collaborating with Francesco DeMayo, Ph.D., in RDBL on an NIEHS Internal Opportunity Award (NIOA) to investigate the biological mechanisms that are altered by vitamin D deficiency and repletion in a mouse model.
Other areas of ongoing research in the Fertility and Reproductive Health Group include air pollution and fertility and pregnancy loss, microRNA in early pregnancy, and methodological challenges in measuring reproductive endpoints.
Jukic received a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame, an M.S.P.H. from Emory University, and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at NIEHS and was an Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Public Health before joining NIEHS as a Principal Investigator.