Louis J. Guillette Jr., Ph.D., a renowned expert in environmental toxicology and a reproductive biologist, will be the Joy Goodwin Distinguished Lecturer at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine on March 8. Guillette’s research presentation, “Contaminants and the Developing Ovary: Lessons for Human Health, will be at 11 a.m. in 230 Greene Hall. He will present the distinguished lecture, “Wildlife as Sentinels of Human Health,” at 4 p.m. in Overton Auditorium.
Guillette is professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and holds an endowed chair in Marine Genomics at South Carolina’s Centers for Economic Excellence at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Internationally recognized for his research on the impact of toxic chemicals on the reproductive systems of alligators and other wildlife, Guillette is a pioneer in exhibiting how wildlife can function as sentinels for adverse environmental contaminant exposure.
He is a leader in the field of hormone disruption, which has emerged as a major public health threat over the past two decades. Guillette has researched environmental estrogens for years, believing they could be responsible for dropping population levels and reproductive abnormalities in wildlife living in the waters of Florida. In the late 1980s, he and his team discovered that DDT and other chemicals in Lake Apopka in Florida were creating ovarian and genital abnormalities by manipulating hormones. Later, he demonstrated that even low-level exposures to one or multiple environmental contaminants during critical periods of fetal development can have long-lasting health implications.
His research raised red flags about what potential impacts chemicals may also have on human reproductive health, especially as other researchers have shown that sperm counts have dropped and testicular cancer is on the rise. Guillette’s studies demonstrate that there is a direct link between environmental chemicals and male and female reproductive health. In 2011 he received a $100,000 Heinz Award for his research.
Guillette is hosted by Benson T. Akingbemi, an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Akingbemi studies the effects of environmental toxicants on male reproductive tract development and function. His study of the toxicity of soy-based diets is funded by the NIH.
The mission of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine is to prepare individuals for careers of excellence in veterinary medicine. The college provides programs of instruction, research, outreach, and service that are in the best interests of the citizens of the state of Alabama, the region, the nation, and the world.
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