Humphrey Yao, Ph.D.


Reproductive & Developmental Biology Laboratory / Reproductive Developmental Biology Group


C458A Rall Building
111 T W Alexander Dr
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709


Research Topics

Compelling animal evidence and human epidemiological data have revealed that impairment of fetal organ development has profound consequences on adult health. This concept of ""fetal origins of adult diseases"" also applies to the reproductive systems where formation of most reproductive organs is completed before birth. Defects in reproductive organ formation manifest as birth defects in severe cases (i.e. pseudohermaphroditism). However, minor abnormalities are often left undetected and become a potential cause of fertility problems and neoplasia when the affected individual reaches adulthood. Our Group is using organogenesis of the gonads and reproductive tracts as the model to understand the basic process of organ formation as well as the potential implication on impacts of endocrine disruptor exposure on reproductive system development in fetuses and fertility in adulthood. Reproductive organs are one of the few organs that exhibit dramatic sex-specific pattern of dimorphic development. This unique pattern of development provides a model system to understand not only the mechanism of sexual differentiation, but also how progenitor cells make decision to differentiate into tissue-specific cell types, the fundamental concept of embryology. Synapses of two major projects are provided below:


    Dr. Humphrey Hung-Chang Yao leads the Developmental Reproductive Biology Group in the Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory at NIEHS/NIH at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. Dr. Yao received his doctoral degree at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1999 and then completed his postdoctoral training at Duke University Medical Center in 2002. He became Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Biosciences at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2003 and received tenure in 2009. Dr. Yao is the recipient of the Basal O'Connor Starter Research Award from March of Dimes Birth Defect Foundation, Pfizer Research Award, New Investigator Award for the Society for the Study of Reproduction, and Young Andrologist Award from the American Society of Andrology. Dr. Yao joined NIEHS/NIH as a tenure-track investigator on August 9, 2010.

    Selected Publications

    1. Rodriguez KF, Ungewitter EK, Crespo-Mejias Y, Liu C, Nicol B, Kissling GE, Yao HH. Effects of in Utero Exposure to Arsenic during the Second Half of Gestation on Reproductive End Points and Metabolic Parameters in Female CD-1 Mice. Environ Health Perspect. 2016;124(3):336-43.

    2. Liu C, Rodriguez K, Yao HH. Mapping lineage progression of somatic progenitor cells in the mouse fetal testis. Development. 2016;143(20):3700-3710.

    3. Ungewitter E, Rotgers E, Bantukul T, Kawakami Y, Kissling GE, Yao HH. From the Cover: Teratogenic Effects of in Utero Exposure to Di-(2-Ethylhexyl)-Phthalate (DEHP) in B6:129S4 Mice. Toxicol Sci. 2017;157(1):8-19.

    4. Liu C, Peng J, Matzuk MM, Yao HH. Lineage specification of ovarian theca cells requires multicellular interactions via oocyte and granulosa cells. Nat Commun. 2015;6:6934.

    5. Nicol B, Yao HH. Gonadal Identity in the Absence of Pro-Testis Factor SOX9 and Pro-Ovary Factor Beta-Catenin in Mice. Biol Reprod. 2015;93(2):35.

    This page was last updated on October 12th, 2017