April 11, 2003

Wang receives second Lalor fellowship

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Wang receives second Lalor fellowship

Haibin Wang, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of S.K. Dey, Ph.D., has been awarded a Lalor Foundation fellowship for the second consecutive year.

The Lalor Foundation is a private philanthropic organization that supports research in the field of reproductive biology as related to the regulation of fertility. Wang was one of 29 Lalor Foundation fellows in 2002.

Dey, who will serve as the advisor for Wang’s Lalor Foundation project, is the Dorothy Overall Wells Professor of Pediatrics and professor of Cell & Developmental Biology, and Pharmacology. He is also the director of the Division of Reproduction and Developmental Biology.

“The Lalor Foundation fellowships are very competitive,” Dey said. “It is a nice feather in his cap.” The fellowships are open to young researchers of any country.

Wang’s initial Lalor Foundation fellowship was granted for the study of the role of endocannabinoids in early pregnancy. Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds in mammals. They interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors and have been linked to the regulation of several physiological processes including feeding behavior and neuronal functions. Their biological significance, however, is not fully understood.

During the first year of his Lalor Foundation fellowship, Wang established an interesting relationship between the blastocyst cannabinoid receptors and uterine endocannabinoid levels. Low levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide, a derivative of arachidonic acid, stimulated blastocyst implantation in the uterine wall of normal mice. High levels of anandamide drastically reduced the blastocyst’s ability to implant in normal mice. However, in mice deficient in the cannabinoid receptor, the reduction in blastocyst implantation at high anandamide levels was not observed.

Wang hopes to expand on these findings during the second year of his fellowship. He will explore the behavior of enzymes that metabolize endocannabinoids and establish their role in maintaining endocannabinoid levels in the uterus.

“Dr. Wang is a very diligent researcher,” said Dey, who feels that the progress Wang showed in the first year of his fellowship is the main reason he was honored a second time.

Haibin Wang, a native of Zhejiang Province, China, received his Ph.D. in May 2001 from the China Agricultural University in Beijing. A portion of his thesis work was carried out at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.