February 8, 2008

Dey’s reproductive biology work lands national award

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S.K. Dey, Ph.D.

Dey’s reproductive biology work lands national award

S.K. Dey, Ph.D., director of the Division of Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has won a major international award for his creative and significant contributions to the field of reproductive biology.

Dey will receive the 2008 Carl G. Hartman Award from the Society for the Study of Reproduction during the society's annual meeting in Hawaii in May. The award, named for the renowned U.S. embryologist, is the highest honor bestowed by the society.

“I am deeply humbled and honored by this award for the recognition of our research program,” said Dey. “I have been blessed with wonderful family, colleagues, friends, students and other research support personnel all along my career path and this award belongs to all of them.”

“There were tears in my eyes when I heard he had been honored with this award,” added Haibin Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Dey's former postdoctoral fellow. “S.K. is most deserving of this recognition, having sacrificed so much and dedicated his life to not only his science but also to mentoring young scientists.”

Dey's group was the first to show that the embryo and uterus communicate with each other for optimal attachment throughout implantation and early pregnancy. This led to the recognition that during early pregnancy, a short delay in the attachment of the embryo to the wall of the womb creates adverse ripple effects throughout the subsequent developmental processes which can result in defective feto-placental growth and poor pregnancy outcome.

Dey discovered that embryos cultured in groups grow more efficiently than those cultured singly, a practice that has now been adopted in many in-vitro fertilization clinics worldwide.

His group was also the first to show that the COX-2 derived prostaglandins worked through a transcription factor called PPARdelta to perform biological functions, including implantation of the embryo.

Working with Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., former director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Dey and their colleagues showed in 2004 that the ability of COX-2 to generate colon polyps in mice depended on the presence of PPARdelta.

More recently, Dey revealed physiological roles for endocannabinoids, marijuana-like products made naturally in the body, for both proper embryonic development and implantation.

Dey has authored more than 270 publications and serves on the editorial boards of several journals.

He currently is one of only four scientists holding two MERIT awards simultaneously, one from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development recognizing his work in embryo-uterine interactions during implantation, and the other from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for his work in endocannabinoid signaling and early pregnancy.

The Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) awards provide researchers with up to 10 years to focus on innovative research.

Dey is the Dorothy Overall Wells Professor of Pediatrics and professor of Cell & Developmental Biology and Pharmacology.