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October 19, 2005

Thomas Spencer Wins Sigma Xi's Young Investigator Award

Thomas Spencer RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — Thomas E. Spencer, Texas A&M University assistant professor of animal science, has been selected to receive the 2005 Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award in life and social sciences.

The award and a $5,000 honorarium will be presented in November during Sigma Xi's annual meeting November 3-6 in Seattle. Spencer has also been asked to present a brief lecture on his research and its implications.

According to Patrick D. Sculley, Sigma Xi executive director, "The Young Investigator Award recognizes researchers in the early stages of their careers whose outstanding contributions best exemplify the ideals of Sigma Xi."

Life and social sciences are recognized on odd-numbered years and physical sciences on even-numbered years.

Fuller Bazer, distinguished professor and O.D. Butler chair in animal science at Texas A&M, nominated Spencer for the award.

"Dr. Spencer is truly an exceptional young scientist who has developed an outstanding independent research program. (His) intellectual background, technical expertise, imagination, dedication and organizational skills are such that he is already recognized as a leader in reproductive biology and endocrinology," Bazer says.

Spencer earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Auburn University and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M. In 1997 he completed postdoctoral studies at Baylor College of Medicine in molecular and cell biology.

Spencer developed a unique "uterine gland knockout" model in sheep and initiated a research program derived from it to discover hormonal, cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating postnatal uterine development and function of endometrial glands in the adult uterus. His laboratory also works on the biological role of endogenous retroviruses in placental development.

According to Bazer, these findings are expected to advance the knowledge of events leading to abnormal uterine function in women, such as endometrial insufficiency and preeclampsia, that contribute to pregnancy loss and intrauterine growth retardation, which are major women's health problems.

"Dr. Spencer's record of achievement in research is exceptional," he says.

Spencer is a member of Sigma Xi, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Endocrine Society, Society for Reproduction and Fertility, and the Society for the Study of Reproduction.

He serves as an associate editor of Biology of Reproduction and on the editorial board of Reproduction.

His honors include a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health and the Outstanding Young Animal Scientist Award-Research from the American Society of Animal Science.

Spencer is also the recipient of the inaugural New Investigator Award from the Society for the Study of Reproduction in 2004.


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