Bartolomei Gets Prize for Chromosome Research

Dr. Marisa Bartolomei
© University of Pennsylvania

"It's an honour to be chosen by a society that has done so much to promote women's health," says Bartolomei. "Being able to increase awareness that there are gender-specific issues in health - for me, being a part of that effort is what this award is all about."

The Society established the award to recognise a women scientist or engineer for her contributions to women's health and encourage women to work on issues uniquely related to women's health. To be considered, each nominee must be in the middle of her career, devote a significant part of her work to women's health research, and serve as a role model and mentor for both colleagues and students.

Using mouse models, Bartolomei has found that individual chromosomes have chemical memory of whether they came from the mother or father. Further, she established that this memory can be erased – with negative consequences – early in the embryonic stage by environmental factors. These findings lay the groundwork for future research, which can target disease and developmental problems related to erased chromosomal memories.

In animal models, she has studied how assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF and ICSI can lead to genomic imprinting disorders, which affect how different genes are expressed. Her ideas are being applied to the study of maternal and fetal health. Bartolomei also studies a phenomenon called X inactivation, how a given X chromosome is activated or inactivated in an embryo. Understanding this process will also shed light on the genetics of X-chromosome-related diseases. "All of my lab's areas of investigation impinge on gender-based research," notes Bartolomei.; Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine