Following the proposition in 1989 that many long term chronic adult diseases originated in the fetus, studies have concluded that a wide range of diseases from obesity to asthma have been found to have been instigated in early development. As both mammalian oocyte and male germ cell development begins in fetal life, it has been suggested that environmental and lifestyle factors of the mother could directly impact the fertility of subsequent generations. Cigarette smoke is a known toxicant, yet disturbingly a significant proportion of women continue to smoke throughout pregnancy. The focus of our investigations has been to characterize, using an animal model, the adverse effects of smoking directly on ovary and oocyte quality in female offspring and testes and sperm development of male mice exposed in utero and on subsequent generations. In summary, our results demonstrate that pregnancy and lactational exposure to cigarette smoke can have long-lasting profound and subtle effects on the fertility of the next generation(s) of female and male offspring.
Professor Eileen McLaughlin is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology. Eileen graduated from The University of Bristol UK in 1994 with a PhD in assisted reproduction and reproductive cryobiology, after which she was awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship in reproductive biology to work on the development of human male contraceptive targets at the School of Biochemistry. In 2000, she took up a post-doctoral fellowship to expand her work to female virally vectored immunocontraceptives in wildlife feral animal control with CSIRO and the Invasive Animal CRC in Canberra. In 2002, she obtained a lectureship at the University of Newcastle NSW, where she established an internationally recognised and highly productive lab working on ovarian follicular development, female and male germ cell development and the effects of reproductive toxicants in multigenerational fertility. Eileen has published over 170 peer reviewed chapters and journal articles and been awarded over $34 million in research funding since arriving “Down Under”.