Gary F. Clark, PhD
Associate Research Professor
Gary F. Clark, PhD, is a researcher whose primary area of interest is glycobiology — the study of the structure, function and biology of carbohydrate sequences (glycans). He is focused on defining the role of carbohydrate recognition in mediating human and mammalian sperm-egg binding.
Rene Cortese, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Rene Cortese, PhD, studies epigenetics of complex diseases to detect and understand how complex diseases develop, progress, are inherited, and can be treated. His current research focuses on the functional study of epigenetic phenomena in genome regulation and the epigenetic mechanisms involved in children's and women's health.
Dr. Cortese’s doctoral research studied epigenetic profiles modulating phenotypes changes in tissue-specific DNA methylation profiles throughout the evolution, during embryonic development and in oncogenic and non-oncogenic diseases. As a post-doctoral fellow, he developed a method for genome-wide epigenetic profiling of tumor circulating DNA in plasma samples from cancer patients.
As a Research Associate (Assistant Professor) at the University of Chicago, Dr. Cortese conducted several research projects toward the study of epigenetic phenomena in complex pediatric diseases, with particular emphasis in the cardiovascular and metabolic consequences of sleep disorders.
Prior to joining the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Dr. Cortese served as Director of Product Development at MDxHealth, a molecular diagnostics company focused on urology oncology. He also worked as a program manager at Seven Bridges Genomics, leading the company’s efforts to develop and implement an analytical environment tailored to circulating DNA analysis using cloud computing.
Raymond Foster, MD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women's Health
Dr. Raymond Foster has dedicated his entire career to helping women with urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse. He joined the MU School of Medicine faculty in 2007, and as the first trained urogynecologist to work at the University of Missouri, he was charged to build a new program to help women with incontinence, prolapse and other pelvic floor symptoms. Foster now leads the Missouri Center for Female Continence and Advanced Pelvic Surgery, which exceeds 5,000 clinic visits and 450 surgical procedures per year.
The standard of care in urogynecology is rapidly changing as new research is published. Fortunately for mid-Missouri women, much of that research is completed by Foster and his team of physicians, advanced practice nurses and basic science researchers — including the new standard for using antibiotics after urinary incontinence surgery.
Foster also seeks to impact care through involvement in positions of national leadership. He currently serves as treasurer of the American Urogynecologic Society, the nation’s flagship organization for doctors committed to helping women with pelvic symptoms adversely impacting quality of life.
Albert Hsu, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Albert Hsu, MD, is a passionate patient advocate who prides himself on delivering cost-conscious personalized care. As a reproductive endocrinologist, he helps women and couples navigate numerous conditions, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, diminished ovarian reserve, hypothalamic pituitary dysfunction, hyperprolactinemia and disorders of the female reproductive tract.
Dr. Hsu has published papers on endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain, and he has earned multiple grants to study infertility and endometriosis. His recent research projects include investigating PCOS, vitamin D and infertility, markers of ovarian reserve, male factor infertility, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and more.
In his spare time, Dr. Hsu is working with the Missouri State Medical Association and Missouri ACOG to help address the epidemic of maternal mortality in our state. He also loves playing ultimate frisbee, reading about history and current events, playing piano, following football and spending time with his family.
Mark Hunter, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Mark Hunter specializes in gynecologic oncology. With nearly twenty years in practice, he has expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian, uterine, cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers.
In addition to his clinical practice, Hunter also works to advance medical technology. Many women who develop uterine cancer require a hysterectomy, a removal of the uterus. Traditionally, the surgery leaves a large scar and results in several weeks’ recovery time. Hunter has developed a prototype surgical device that would allow hysterectomies to be performed less invasively.
Hunter has also been an early adopter of new medical innovations. For many of his cancer patients, he operates using the da Vinci Surgical System. This advanced device decreases incision size and reduces complications — in many cases, enabling the patient to go home the same day.
Lei Lei, PhD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health
Dr. Lei’s research focuses on mammalian ovarian reserve formation, maintenance, and its associated female reproductive health issues. The Lei lab is particularly interested in understanding 1) how the intercellular transport of organelles and cytoplasm during ovarian reserve formation in fetal ovaries influences ovarian function and female fertility in adulthood; 2) the roles of organelle organization and RNA storage in ovarian reserve maintenance and activation in adult females; and 3) cellular origins of ovarian cancer. Dr. Lei’s research has been reported in Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS), Development and Biology Open, etc. Dr. Lei has been peer-reviewing research articles for Science, PNAS, Nature Medicine, etc. and research grants for the National Institutes of Health. Currently, Dr. Lei serves as a review editor for the journals Biology of Reproduction and Frontiers in Endocrinology. The Lei lab received the Young Investigator Achievement Award from the Jones Foundation for Reproductive Medicine and an R01 award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
Rose Li, MD, PhD
Dr. Li’s research is primarily focused on studying the interaction of epigenetic mechanisms and environmental factors such as bioactive dietary compounds in human diseases including cancer, obesity and aging utilizing transgenic mice as main animal models. Nutrition is believed to be an important environmental factor that is involved in regulation of gene expression during disease development through impacting epigenetic pathways. In particular, her primary research strategy investigates epigenetics regulation of reproductive cancers and transplacental/transgenerational disease prevention as well as the interaction of environmental factors and gene regulation during development. Dr. Li is interested in translational studies and strives to apply her research in future clinical trials.
Amanda Patterson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Reproductive Biology
Research in the Patterson lab is focused on understanding mechanisms of uterine repair in health and disease. During pregnancy, the uterus is drastically remodeled to accommodate an embryo/fetus, and following parturition, the tissue must be repaired to allow for subsequent pregnancies. The repair process includes regeneration of the endometrium and likely involves multiple mechanisms including stem cells. We are interested in understanding how stem cells function in the repair process, what regulates their activity and what happens when they are mutated or not properly regulated. When stem cells and other mechanisms of uterine repair go awry, they may contribute to diseases such as endometriosis and endometrial cancer, and we want to understand how this happens so better diagnostics and therapeutics can be developed.
Laura Schulz, PhD
The placenta is a crucial part of pregnancy in humans and other mammals, acting as a lifeline that enables transport of oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the fetus. Schulz works to understand how maternal hormones and nutrients affect placental function — and how that, in turn, affects the fetus’ development and future health. Through a study of mice, she has investigated the role of the hormone leptin in combating the effects of poor nutrition or diabetes. Additionally, she is part of multi-lab efforts to better understand how the placenta develops, as well as how the pre-birth environment affects bone health in offspring.
Schulz’s findings have appeared in many peer-reviewed journals. These include Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Endocrinology and other prestigious publications.
Numerous professional organizations have recognized Schulz’s outstanding research. In 2009, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine honored Schulz with its New Investigator Award. She is a member of the American Diabetes Association and the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) and has served as chair of the SSR’s Public Affairs Committee.
Danny Schust, MD
David G. Hall Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Danny Schust has dedicated his career to helping families with reproductive health and endocrine disorders. After training at Harvard Medical School and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined the University of Missouri medical school in 2006. His clinical interests include early pregnancy loss, as well as gynecologic and early pregnancy ultrasonography.
Schust’s research interests include early placenta function, modeling early pregnancy in humans and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and the Zika virus. He has authored or co-authored more than 160 manuscripts and book chapters as well as a medical textbook on reproductive physiology.
Schust impacts care on an international basis as he presents his research results at scientific meetings throughout the world. He is also involved in medical work in Central America and feeding, education and building projects in Eastern Africa.
For his achievements and expertise, Schust has received numerous honors, including Harvard Medical School’s Humanism in Medicine Mentoring Award and multiple recognitions from The Society for Gynecologic Investigation.