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Current Research


 Bouma Lab Information


 Contact the Lab


Phone: (970) 491-8738


Location: W103 ARBL Building

Mailing Address:
1683 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523
Research in my laboratory use a variety of animal models to identify critical factors that control fetal ovarian development, mediate adult ovarian function, and underlie adult reproductive diseases (Figure).
Female reproductive health and function is dependent on proper functioning ovaries generating quality gametes. Abnormal ovarian function in conditions such as menopause and premature ovarian failure in which follicle growth is impaired are associated with health concerns in women, including increased risk of developing osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

Fetal Ovarian Development

Gonadal sex in mammals is determined by genetic differences between females and males. Normally individuals containing two X chromosomes develop ovaries, whereas individuals containing an X and Y chromosome develop testes. Expression of the Y-linked gene Sry directs testicular development in males, and signaling factors, such as RSPO1 and WNT4, are necessary for fetal ovarian development. Any perturbations in the process of fetal ovarian development and differentiation can lead to a range of severe adverse consequences in adulthood, including infertility and ovarian cancer. We postulate that transcription factor GATA4, a factor abnormally expressed in ovarian tumors, plays a role in fetal ovarian somatic cell differentiation.

Adult Ovarian Function

The last decades have provided much insight into the complex nature of cell-to-cell communication leading to follicle maturation. Recently we uncovered the presence of cell-secreted vesicles called exosomes containing bioactive material in ovarian follicular fluid. These exosomes contain small non-coding RNA (miRNAs) and proteins that possibly play a role in regulating follicular somatic cell function during follicle growth and maturation.

Projects in my laboratory focus on elucidating the role of exosomes proteins and miRNAs in regulating granulosa and cumulus cells differentiation, and demonstrating that exosomes are critical mediators of cell communication processes in ovarian follicles.

Adult Reproductive Disease

(1) Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological malignancy in women because it often is detected at a late stage when tumor growth has spread to other tissues. Considerable research effort currently is being placed on novel agents and new approaches to treat patients with recurrent ovarian cancer. Recent studies reveal that tumors secrete vesicles (microvesicles and exosomes) containing bioactive material (RNAs and protein) that enter extracellular fluid and blood, and importantly these vesicles can be taken up by other cells and deliver their contents. The long-term goal of our research is to identify a role of exosomes containing oncogenic factors in ovarian cancer tumor development and metastasis.
(2) Proper placental development and function is absolutely critical for embryo development and survival, and also for proper tissue programming that is necessary for postnatal health and adult reproductive function and fertility.

Research in my laboratory focus on steroid hormones in placental development and trophopblast cell differentiation using the sheep as a model, as well as human trophoblast cell lines.