Research Summary

Our work focuses on three interrelated questions: do all developing germ cells have equal potential to give rise to functional eggs or sperm; how do environmental inputs affect germ cells during development, and what is the role of germ cells in ovarian and systemic aging? Using mouse models, human cells, and naked mole rats, we explore these questions in the real-world contexts of germ cell tumors (teratomas), exposures to chemicals and psychosocial stress as well as genetic causes of infertility such as Fragile X Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. Our work spans the fields of epigenetics, developmental and stem cell biology, and cancer biology. We are also part of the P30 Center for Environmental Research and Translation for Health (EaRTH) at UCSF. As a federally-funded lab in a public university, our broad mission is to advance knowledge toward improving human health, provide research training for students and postdoctoral fellows, and promote public awareness of science.

Research Funding

  • September 15, 2017 - August 31, 2022 - The intersection of stress and environmental chemicals in germ cell reprogramming, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NIEHS, Sponsor Award ID: R01ES028212
  • December 26, 2017 - November 30, 2021 - Fmr1 Function and Repeat Expansion in the Developing Germline, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NIGMS, Sponsor Award ID: R01GM122902
  • August 29, 2013 - July 31, 2016 - Assessing transgenerational effects of Phthalates on primordial germ cells, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NIEHS, Sponsor Award ID: R21ES023297
  • July 15, 2014 - June 30, 2015 - The 2014 Santa Cruz Developmental Biology Meeting, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NICHD, Sponsor Award ID: R13HD081860


Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Ph.D., 03/2003, Biological Sciences
Sloan Kettering Institute, New York, NY, Postdoc, 12/2007, Developmental Genetics

Honors & Awards

  • 1990
    Tektronix Scholarship for undergraduates Tektronix Corporation (Beaverton, Oregon)
  • 1997
    NSF Predoctoral Fellowship in Biology National Science Foundation
  • 2002
    Keystone Symposium Scholarship Keystone Foundation
  • 2004
    Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fellowship Jane Coffin Childs Foundation
  • 2008
    Junior Faculty Startup Award Sandler Foundation
  • 2010
    Early Career Award Hellman Foundation
  • 2010
    New Innovator Award (DP2) NIH
  • 2016
    Deleage Prize for Young Investigators Deleage Foundation, UCSF
  • 2019
    W.M. Keck Foundation Award for Medical Research

Selected Publications

  1. Soygur B, Laird DJ. Ovary Development: Insights From a Three-Dimensional Imaging Revolution. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021; 9:698315.  View on PubMed
  2. Nguyen DH, Laird DJ. Natural selection at the cellular level: insights from male germ cell differentiation. Cell Death Differ. 2021 Jul; 28(7):2296-2299.  View on PubMed
  3. Soygur B, Jaszczak RG, Fries A, Nguyen DH, Malki S, Hu G, Demir N, Arora R, Laird DJ. Intercellular bridges coordinate the transition from pluripotency to meiosis in mouse fetal oocytes. Sci Adv. 2021 Apr; 7(15).  View on PubMed
  4. Nguyen DH, Soygur B, Peng SP, Malki S, Hu G, Laird DJ. Apoptosis in the fetal testis eliminates developmentally defective germ cell clones. Nat Cell Biol. 2020 12; 22(12):1423-1435.  View on PubMed
  5. Steven Anthony Cincotta, Diana Laird. MON-LB130 Glucocorticoid Receptor Signaling and Stress in the Developing Mammalian Germline. Journal of the Endocrine Society. 2020 May 8; 4(Suppl 1).  View on PubMed
  6. Wall E, Scoles J, Joo A, Klein O, Quinonez C, Bush JO, Martin GR, Laird DJ. The UCSF Mouse Inventory Database Application, an Open Source Web App for Sharing Mutant Mice Within a Research Community. G3 (Bethesda). 2020 05 04; 10(5):1503-1510.  View on PubMed
  7. DiTroia SP, Percharde M, Guerquin MJ, Wall E, Collignon E, Ebata KT, Mesh K, Mahesula S, Agathocleous M, Laird DJ, Livera G, Ramalho-Santos M. Maternal vitamin C regulates reprogramming of DNA methylation and germline development. Nature. 2019 09; 573(7773):271-275.  View on PubMed
  8. Nguyen DH, Jaszczak RG, Laird DJ. Heterogeneity of primordial germ cells. Curr Top Dev Biol. 2019; 135:155-201.  View on PubMed
  9. Reznik B, Cincotta SA, Jaszczak RG, Mateo LJ, Shen J, Cao M, Baskin L, Ye P, An W, Laird DJ. Heterogeneity of transposon expression and activation of the repressive network in human fetal germ cells. Development. 2019 02 01; 146(12).  View on PubMed
  10. Laird DJ. How to lose your inheritance. Nature. 2018 10; 562(7728):497-498.  View on PubMed
  11. Susman MW, Karuna EP, Kunz RC, Gujral TS, Cantú AV, Choi SS, Jong BY, Okada K, Scales MK, Hum J, Hu LS, Kirschner MW, Nishinakamura R, Yamada S, Laird DJ, Jao LE, Gygi SP, Greenberg ME, Ho HH. Kinesin superfamily protein Kif26b links Wnt5a-Ror signaling to the control of cell and tissue behaviors in vertebrates. Elife. 2017 09 08; 6.  View on PubMed
  12. Cantú AV, Laird DJ. A pilgrim's progress: Seeking meaning in primordial germ cell migration. Stem Cell Res. 2017 10; 24:181-187.  View on PubMed
  13. Whitaker AT, Berthet E, Cantu A, Laird DJ, Alliston T. Smad4 regulates growth plate matrix production and chondrocyte polarity. Biol Open. 2017 Mar 15; 6(3):358-364.  View on PubMed
  14. Curtis A, Li DJ, DeVeale B, Onishi K, Kim MY, Blelloch R, Laird DJ, Hui EE. Patterning of sharp cellular interfaces with a reconfigurable elastic substrate. Integr Biol (Camb). 2017 01 23; 9(1):50-57.  View on PubMed
  15. Arora R, Fries A, Oelerich K, Marchuk K, Sabeur K, Giudice LC, Laird DJ. Insights from imaging the implanting embryo and the uterine environment in three dimensions. Development. 2016 12 15; 143(24):4749-4754.  View on PubMed
  16. Arora R, Laird DJ. ROR2 in the adult mouse testis. Mol Reprod Dev. 2016 11; 83(11):943.  View on PubMed
  17. Cantú AV, Altshuler-Keylin S, Laird DJ. Discrete somatic niches coordinate proliferation and migration of primordial germ cells via Wnt signaling. J Cell Biol. 2016 07 18; 214(2):215-29.  View on PubMed
  18. Arora R, Abby E, Ross AD, Cantu AV, Kissner MD, Castro V, Ho HY, Livera G, Laird DJ. Meiotic onset is reliant on spatial distribution but independent of germ cell number in the mouse ovary. J Cell Sci. 2016 07 01; 129(13):2493-9.  View on PubMed
  19. Tran ND, Kissner M, Subramanyam D, Parchem RJ, Laird DJ, Blelloch RH. A miR-372/let-7 Axis Regulates Human Germ Versus Somatic Cell Fates. Stem Cells. 2016 07; 34(7):1985-91.  View on PubMed
  20. Sousa Martins JP, Liu X, Oke A, Arora R, Franciosi F, Viville S, Laird DJ, Fung JC, Conti M. DAZL and CPEB1 regulate mRNA translation synergistically during oocyte maturation. J Cell Sci. 2016 Mar 15; 129(6):1271-82.  View on PubMed

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