- D.V.M., Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 2003
- M.P.V.M., University of California, Davis, 2009 (Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine)
- Ph.D., University of Florida, 2014 (Animal Molecular and Cellular Biology)
Female gametes, or oocytes, develop during fetal life and must remain viable for a long period of time to ensure proper reproduction during a female’s lifespan. However, the precise mechanisms regulating fetal oogenesis and development of early stage follicles (i.e., preantral follicles) in the ovary remain largely elusive in most mammalian species. The recent derivation of bovine embryonic stem cells (bESC) presents a unique opportunity to recreate bovine oogenesis and folliculogenesis in vitro, allowing the study of events that have otherwise been difficult to unravel.
Our research focuses on ovarian biology and regulation of follicle development. We combine culture of bESCs, preantral follicles isolated or in situ within the ovarian cortex, and granulosa cells to encompass the different stages of oocyte and follicle development and help unravel local, systemic and environmental mechanisms that regulate fertility. As heat stress is recognized as one of the main causes of infertility in cattle, a second and equally important focus of the Denicol Lab has been the investigation of genetic selection of dairy cows for heat tolerance via introduction of the SLICK1 mutation. As reproductive health is a central component of overall health, the ultimate goal of our research is to improve reproductive success and assisted reproductive technologies to benefit animal agriculture, wildlife conservation, and human health.