Activin A research recognised with the 2022 Anna Steinberger Merit Award

Whiley-Loveland photo
Ms Penny Whiley has been awarded the 2022 Anna Steinberger Merit Award

Congratulations to Ms Penny Whiley who has been awarded the 2022 Anna Steinberger Merit Award. She received a prize of US$500 from the American Society for Andrology (ASA) for her research.

“Receiving this prestigious award was an incredible honour and I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to attend this conference in person. Thank you to my supervisors Professor Kate Loveland and Associate Professor Robin Hobbs for their constant guidance and support,” Ms Whiley said.

Her research demonstrates how elevated levels of the growth factor, activin A, in pregnant mice reduces germ cell numbers by half in the testes of young male pups, an outcome that could reduce sperm production in adults. However, this condition also appears to increase the number of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), and these cells have the critical potential to rescue spermatogenesis. This exciting research facilitates an understanding that (1) some male germ cells are vulnerable to too much activin A in fetal life and (2) emerging SSCs can respond to physiological insults early in testis development to recover sperm production in adult life.