Health & Wellness

USU Scientists Awarded Generous NIH Grant

Utah State University scientists Chris Davies and Ken White received a $1,073,296 award from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, to continue their study of the interactions between the fetal and maternal tissues at the placental interface in cattle. 

The grant will fund research to facilitate a better understanding of the cause of human pregnancy failure that results from placental incompatibility between the mother and fetus using “cloned” cattle pregnancies as a model of this condition.  
White said the research focuses on cloned embryos, since they have an extremely high incidence of pregnancy failure due to placental inadequacies, which provides an excellent model for immune-mediated placental failure in humans.
“This award is a tremendous boost to our cloning research efforts and will provide an opportunity to use our research model to better understand the underlying causes of this type of pregnancy failure in humans,” said White, who co-leads the project. “A better understanding of the specific mechanisms that lead to the high incidence of placental problems that result in pregnancy failure will be a huge breakthrough in this area.”  
Widely recognized as an expert on cattle cloning, White worked with the team that cloned the first mule at USU in collaboration with the University of Idaho. He is currently department head of the Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences Department and associate director for research at the Center for Integrated BioSystems.
As the 2006 recipient of the J. Christian Herr Award for outstanding achievements in basic or applied research in reproductive immunology, Davies brings dual experience as both a veterinarian and reproductive immunologist to the research team. He joined USU’s Center for Integrated BioSystems and the Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences Department in 2007.
The research was made possible through collaboration between the College of Agriculture, Center for Integrated BioSystems, Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences, the Utah Ag Experiment Station and strong support from J.R. Simplot Company.
 “This NIH grant will permit us to do some exciting things we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Davies.
The NICHD/NIH sponsors research on development before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation.
Related links:
Contact: Chris Davies, 435-797-1900,
Contact: Ken White, 435-797-2149,
Writer: Jeannine Huenemann, (435)-797-8274,
USU grant recipients Drs. Chris Davies and Ken White

Recipients of the NIH grant Dr. Chris Davies and Dr. Ken White.

Cows, part of research project

Cows on the USU Dairy Farm, Wellsville Utah. (Photo by Gary Neuenswander.)


Grants 161stories Cloning 11stories

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