University of Missouri
Animal Reproductive Biology Group
Prather Laboratory

People

Dr. Randall Prather

Dr. Randall Prather

Dr. Prather is a Curators’ Professor and Distinguished Professor of Reproductive Biotechnology at the University of Missouri, where he also serves as Associate Leader of the Food for the 21st Century Reproductive Biology Cluster. Since 2003, Dr. Prather has also provided leadership for UMC’s National Swine Research and Resource Center as its Co-Director. He earned his BS and MS from Kansas State University, and PhD and Postdoc from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1982 Dr. Prather’s research has focused on the early mammalian embryo.

Dr. Cliff Murphy

Dr. Clifton Murphy
Research Assistant Professor

Lee Spate

Lee Spate
Senior Research Specialist

Email: spatel@missouri.edu

Education: B.S. in Animal Science from University of Missouri

Research: Pre-implantation embryo development, embryo culture

Kristin Whitworh

Dr. Kristin Whitworth
Research Scientist

Email: whitworthk@missouri.edu

Research: Kristin focused her PhD work on the transcriptional profiling in pig preimplantation embryos and extraembryonic membranes and using histone deacetylase inhibitors such as Scriptaid and SAHA to improve cloning efficiencies. Kristin is now heavily focusing her research efforts on using gene editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 to create disease resistant swine models.

Education: B.S. Agriculture, Illinois State University, M.S. Animal Science, University of Missouri , Ph. D University of Missouri.

Publications:
Whitworth KM, Rowland RR, Ewen CL, Trible BR, Kerrigan MA, Cino-Ozuna AG, Samuel MS, Lightner JE, McLaren DG, Mileham AJ, Wells KD, Prather RS. 2015. Gene-edited pigs are protected from porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. Nat Biotechnol. Dec 7. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3434

Whitworth KM, Mao J, Lee K, Spollen WG, Samuel MS, Walters EM, Spate LD, Prather RS. 2015. Transcriptome analysis of pig in vivo, in vitro fertilized and nuclear transfer blastocyst stage embryos treated with histone deacetylase inhibitors post-fusion and activation reveals changes in the lysosomal pathway. Cell Reprogram 17(4): 243-258

Whitworth KM, Lee K, Benne JA, Beaton BP, Spate LD, Murphy SL, Samuel MS, Mao J, O'Gorman C, Walters EM, Murphy CN, Driver JP, Mileham A, McLaren D, Wells KD, Prather RS. 2014. Use of the CRISPR/Cas9 System to Produce Genetically Engineered Pigs from In Vitro-Derived Oocytes and Embryos. Biol Reprod. 10.1095/biolreprod.114.121723

Whitworth KM, Zhao J, Spate LD, Li R, Prather RS. 2011. Scriptaid corrects gene expression of a few aberrantly reprogrammed transcripts in nuclear transfer pig blastocyst stage embryos. Cell Reprogram 13(3):191-204.

Whitworth KM, Prather RS. 2010. Somatic cell nuclear transfer efficiency: how can it be improved through nuclear remodeling and reprogramming? Mol Reprod Dev 77(12):1001-1015.

Whitworth KM, Spate LD, Li R, Rieke A, Sutovsky P, Green JA, Prather RS. 2010. Activation method does not alter abnormal placental gene expression and development in cloned pigs. Mol Reprod Dev 77(12):1016-1030.

Jeffrey Whyte

Dr. Jeffrey Whyte
Research Scientist

Email: whytej@missouri.edu

Education:  Ph.D.  University of Waterloo

Research:
Embryonic mortality in pigs and other livestock ranges from 20% to 40%, with two-thirds of these losses occurring at peri-implantation. To address this problem, Dr. Whyte is using the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technique to inactivate the conceptus-specific form of the swine interleukin-1β gene (IL1B). This gene is postulated to play a major role in porcine implantation and pregnancy establishment[1]. Dr. Whyte also utilizes high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing to examine how epigenetic modifications of the swine genome influence transcriptomic gene expression patterns during early development. Collaborative projects that Dr. Whyte has contributed to have resulted in the production of cloned genetically modified pigs to serve as models for human cardiovascular health[2] and diabetes[3], xenotransplantation[4], and porcine placentation[5].

References:
[1] Project supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2013-67015-21023 to JJW from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
[2] Whyte JJ, Mahan E, Samuel M, Whitworth KM, Hao Y, Murphy C, Prather RS, Laughlin MH. 2009. Production of Cloned Pigs Carrying an Endothelial-Specific Transgene Designed to Overexpress Human Catalase to Study the Vasodilatory Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2). Biol Reprod 81: 92.
[3] Whyte, JJ, Isom, SC, Samuel, MS, Baker, RK, Asadi, A, Webber, TD, Timothy J. Kieffer, TJ, Prather, RS. 2011. Human insulin expression in intestinal K cells of transgenic swine. Swine in Biomedical Research 2014 International Conference Proceedings. July 17-19, 2011. Chicago, IL.
[4] Kwon DN, Lee K, Kang MJ, Choi YJ, Park C, Whyte JJ, Brown AN, Kim JH, Samuel M, Mao J, Park KW, Murphy CN, Prather RS, Kim JH. 2013. Production of biallelic CMP-Neu5Ac hydroxylase knock-out pigs. Nature Sci Rep 3: 1981.
[5] Whyte J, Laughlin MH. 2010. Placentation in the pig visualized by eGFP fluorescence in eNOS over-expressing cloned transgenic swine. Mol Reprod Dev 77: 565.

Eric Walters

Dr. Eric Walters
Research Assistant Professor and Project Director for the National Swine Resource and Research Center

Email: walterse@missouri.edu

Education: Ph.D. - University of Illinois

Research: Transgenics, Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Swine, Cryopreservation

Melissa Samuel

Melissa Samuel
Senior Research Specialist

Email: samuelm@missouri.edu

Bethany Redel

Dr. Bethany Redel
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Email: redelb@missouri.edu

Education:B.S. in Animal Science from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, M.S. in Animal Science from University of Missouri, Ph. D University of Missouri

Research: Pre-implantation embryo development and gene expression

It is well known that in vitro produced embryos are developmentally delayed compared to in vivo embryos. My current research aim is to identify mRNA transcripts that are expressed differently in in vitro cultured embryos compared to in vivo derived embryos by using next generation deep sequencing. This will hopefully shed light on how we can optimize our current embryo culture conditions to be more similar to that of in vivo conditions.

Josh Benne

Josh Benne
Research Specialist
National Swine Resource and Research Center

Email: bennejo@missouri.edu

Education: B.S. in Animal Science from University of Missouri.
Research: Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer and Microinjection.

Raissa Cecil

Raissa Cecil
Research Specialist

Email: cecilr@missouri.edu

Education: B.S. in Biology from Berea College
Research: Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer and Microinjection.

Bethany Mordhorst

Bethany Mordhorst
Graduate Research Assistant (Ph. D)

Email: brmvx4@mail.missouri.edu

Education: B.S. in Animal Science and Dairy Science from Iowa State University, M.S. in Animal Science-Reproductive Physiology from North Dakota State University

Research: As an undergraduate research assistant at Iowa State University, she worked in the laboratories of Dr.'s Jason Ross, Howard Tyler, and Jack Dekkers. Under the advisement of Dr. Kimberly Vonnahme at North Dakota State University, she investigated nutritional impacts on uterine and mammary blood flow and placentome vascularity in pregnant beef cows. She joined the Prather laboratory in July 2014 and her current research involves metabolic programming of donor cell fibroblasts to be used in somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Paula Chen
Graduate Research Assistant (Ph. D)

Email: prcn78@mail.missouri.edu

Education: B.S. in Animal Science from The Ohio State University, M.S. in Animal Science-Functional Genomics from The Ohio State University

Research: At The Ohio State University, Paula worked under Dr. Kichoon Lee to generate transgenic poultry as models for studying genes involved in muscle and adipose tissue development. In August 2016, she joined the Prather laboratory and is investigating in vitro pre-implantation embryo metabolism using key features from cancer cell metabolism to produce more competent embryos.

Ben Jacquin
Chief Animal Technician

Email: jacquinb@missouri.edu



Former Members


Stephanie Murphy

Stephanie Murphy
Research Specialist

Email: murphyste@missouri.edu

Education: B.S. in Animal Science from University of Missouri
Research: Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer and Microinjection

Mykel Anderson
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Armedia O'Neill

Armedia O'Neill
Senior Animal Technician

Rachel Bardot
Undergraduate Research Assistant and Animal Technician

Sara Hoffman
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Madison Hennessey
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Baylee Beasley
Chief Animal Technician

Jiude Mao

Dr. Jiude Mao
Research Specialist
National Swine Resource and Research Center

Education:  PhD

Research: I have a broad interest in reproductive physiology and technology, such as estrous synchronization, in vitro embryo production, embryo transfer, and somatic cell nuclear transfer in pigs.


Mariah Thomas

Mariah Thomas
Research Specialist
National Swine Resource and Research Center

Research: .


Keith Giroux

Keith Giroux
Chief Animal Technician
National Swine Resource and Research Center

Research: .


Jianguo Zhao

Dr. Jianguo Zhao
Research Assistant Professor

Moved to State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Biology, Beijing, China - 2010

Research: Genetic modification in pigs to be model of human diseases or mammary bioreactor, new strategies to improve cloning efficiency, as well as, reprogramming mechanism of somatic cells after nuclear transfer; and to determine the role of histone modifications in the preimplantation embryo development.

Miingtao Zhao

Mingtao Zhao
Graduate Research Assistant (Ph. D)

Research: epigenetic reprogramming and early embryonic development; genetic and epigenetic regulation of pluripotency in stem cells

Publications: Zhao, M., Isom, S. C., Lin, H., Hao, Y., Zhang, Y., Zhao, J., Whyte, J. J., Dobbs, K. B., and Prather, R. S. (2009). Tracing the stemness of porcine skin-derived progenitors (pSKP) back to specific marker gene expression. Cloning Stem Cells 11, 111-122

Kiho Lee

Dr. Kiho Lee
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Research:

Jennifer Teson

Jennifer Teson
Graduate Research Assistant(Master's)

Education:  BS in Animal Science and minor in Captive Wild Animal Management, University of Missouri


Martha Bennett
Research Specialist

Kyle Dobbs

Kyle Dobbs
Graduate Research Assistant (Master’s)

Moved to University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl - 2010

Education: BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri

Research: I am currently looking at cytoplasmic polyadenylation elements and how they affectearly porcine development. Before this, I was investigating the effects of heat stress on the development of porcine embryos.

Publications: Zhao, M., S.C. Isom, H. Lin, Y. Hao, J. Zhao, J. Whyte, K.B. Dobbs, Y. Zhang, R.S. Prather. 2009. Tracing the stemness of GFP transgenic porcine skin derived progenitors (pSKP) back to specific marker gene expression. Cloning and Stem Cells. 11,111-122

Kim Tessane

Dr. Kim Tessane
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Research:

Maren Ritterling

Alana Brown
Research Laboratory Technician


Clay Isom

Clay Isom
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Moved to Utah State University, Logan, UT - 2009

BS - Utah State University; PhD - University of Missouri

Research:
My overall interests lie in improving the efficiency of in vitro-manipulated embryo development in livestock animals. My research efforts generally fall into two main categories: 1) indentifying markers or determinants of early embryo developmental success, and 2) understanding the role of DNA methylation and other epigenetic phenomena in controlling gene expression in reproductive tissues, especially early pre- and peri-implantation stage embryos. My most recent efforts have been focused on adapting next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to be used in our attempts at global gene expression and DNA methylation pattern profiling in day 10, 12, and 14 conceptuses.