We’re thrilled to welcome Dolores J. Lamb, Ph.D. to Weill Cornell and the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine team. Dr. Lamb, or ‘Dorrie’ to her friends, studies the fields of urology, male infertility, steroid hormone action, prostate cancer and genitourinary birth defects.
As Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Urology and Director of the Center for Reproductive Genomics, Dr. Lamb maintains an active presence in both the academic and research communities at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Her passion for research will be evident to all who meet her, “Each new day in the lab has truly been an exciting adventure and advanced our understanding not only of the causes of these birth defects, but also other associated health conditions for these affected individuals.”
We hope you enjoy learning more about Dr. Lamb’s work.
Please provide a brief overview of your work before coming to Weill Cornell Medicine.
“The main interests in my laboratory are the genetic basis of human male infertility, specifically non-obstructive azoospermia, a failure of sperm production by the testis, and the genomic basis of congenital genitourinary birth defects. These are among the most common birth defects in humans, yet they are rarely discussed. Other areas of research interest are Peyronie’s Dupuytren contracture (a penile fibrotic diathesis), prostate cancer and recurrent pregnancy loss. I’m also interested in men’s health research, addressing a variety of reproductive health problems seen in the study of urology.”
What makes your research unique? Can you share with us some recent findings?
“Recently, several of our papers are in the area of congenital genitourinary birth defects. We used a forward genetics approach and analyzed our patients with a variety of upper and lower urogenital tract birth defects. Array comparative genomics hybridization revealed that about 20% of these unrelated babies had de novo copy number variants that cluster at specific “hot-spots” on the chromosomes. These gene-dosage changes allowed us to identify strong candidate genes, define the signaling pathways affected/mechanism of action, and to use mouse models to prove causation beyond an association.”
Readers interested in these topics can review our recent papers: Tannour-Louet, et al., Nat Med 2014, Jul;20(7):715-24; Haller, et al., Proc. Natl Acad Sci USA 2018 115:E1849-1858; Haller, et al., Proc. Natl Acad Sci USA 2017 114: 4981-4986.
What excites you about your work?
“Our discoveries described above identified key, causative genes in a variety of birth defects and in each case, gene-dosage changes affected known signaling pathways, such as androgen and estrogen receptor function, in ways never before considered. Each new day in the lab has truly been an exciting adventure and advanced our understanding not only of the causes of these birth defects, but also other associated health conditions for these affected individuals.”
When thinking about your research and the field you are working in, what are some recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?
“In the field of reproductive medicine, the development of assisted reproductive technologies and genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, have the potential to significantly impact not only infertility, but to develop “designer” babies. The positive side of these technologies is that hopelessly infertile couples can experience the joys of parenthood and potentially children could have genetic defects in their genome corrected. However, the future use of these technologies in combination in humans will also present us with significant ethical challenges which remain to be fully resolved.”
What are the short-term challenges that your scientific field is facing?
“The challenges of funding biomedical research are common to virtually all areas of investigation. A second challenge in biomedical research is to translate research advances to impact patient care.”
What else would you like to share with Englander Institute for Precision Medicine team?
“As a new faculty member at Weill Cornell Medicine, I am delighted to be a part of this strong multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians working together to achieve impactful biomedical advances that ultimately should benefit patients.”