Professor Quirk is a reproductive biologist with a concentration in ovarian physiology. A major interest of her lab is to determine the mechanism of ovulation using novel in vivo imaging techniques. Other areas of research interest are on determining the role of the hedgehog signaling pathway in ovarian function and the role of the vasculature in ovarian follicle development. Dr. Quirk teaches Fundamentals of Endocrinology and Comparative Mammalian Reproduction. She serves as Chair of the Undergraduate Honors Research Committee in Animal Science, facilitating participation of students in honors research with a variety of mentors across the University and their completion of honors theses for graduation with Distinction in Research.
Experiments are being conducted to determine the role of the hedgehog signaling pathway in reproductive function with a focus on the ovary. The hedgehog family of secreted proteins regulate development in the embryo and in a wide array of adult tissues. Hedgehog signaling is essential for ovarian function in drosophila, but it has not been studied previously in the mammalian ovary. Mutations in components of the hedgehog pathway have been implicated in a variety of cancers. We are investigating the role of the hedgehog pathway in ovarian follicle development using transgenic mice in which the pathway is inactivated or over-activated. These studies have led us to focus on the process of ovulation and on the development of somatic cells and the vasculature of the ovarian follicle. In addition, we have studied the role of hedgehog signaling on development of the female and male reproductive tract and in embryo implantation.
Dr. Quirk teaches ANSC/BIOAP 4270 Fundamentals of Endocrinology to advanced undergraduate and graduate students. In this course students learn the basic components of the endocrine glands and the hormones produced and how hormones regulate the physiology of mammals during both health and disease. Students acquire the ability to apply knowledge of endocrinology concepts and facts to predict the consequences of physiological changes or pathology of an endocrine system. Dr. Quirk also teaches ANSC 3400 Comparative Mammalian Reproduction, a course which focuses on the evolution of adaptations and strategies to optimize reproductive success in the face of challenges posed by geographical location and environment. As part of this course, students gain experience reading and discussing primary research articles and in working within a group to prepare a lecture. As Chair of the Undergraduate Honors Research Program in Animal Science, Dr. Quirk organizes a seminar course (ANSC 4020) in which honors students present their research. Emphasis is on encouraging excellence in the presentations as well as questions and discussion by student members of the audience.
- Migone, F. F., Cowan, R. G., Williams, R. M., Gorse, K. J., Zipfel, W. R., & Quirk, S. M. (2016). In vivo imaging reveals an essential role of vasoconstriction in rupture of the ovarian follicle at ovulation. PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113:2294–2299.
- Migone, F. F., Cowan, R. G., Williams, R. M., Zipfel, W. R., & Quirk, S. M. (2013). Multiphoton microscopy as a tool to study ovarian vasculature in vivo. IntraVital. 2:245-266.
- Quirk, S. M., Quirk, S. M., Cowan, R. G., & Harman, R. M. (2013). Role of the cell cycle in regression of the corpus luteum. Reproduction. 145:161-175.
- Ren, Y., Cowan, R. G., Migone, F. F., & Quirk, S. M. (2012). Over-activation of hedgehog signaling alters development of the ovarian vasculature. Biology of Reproduction. 86:174.
- Migone, F. F., Ren, Y., Cowan, R. G., Harman, R. M., Nikitin, A., & Quirk, S. M. (2012). Dominant activation of the hedgehog signaling pathway alters development of the female reproductive tract. Genesis: The Journal of Genetics and Development. 50:28-40.
- Harman, R. M., Cowan, R. G., Ren, Y., & Quirk, S. M. (2011). Reduced signaling through the hedgehog pathway in the uterine stroma causes deferred implantation and embryonic loss. Reproduction. 141:665-674.
- Ren, Y., Cowan, R. G., Harman, R. M., & Quirk, S. M. (2009). Dominant activation of the hedgehog signaling pathway in the ovary alters theca development and prevents ovulation. Molecular Endocrinology. 23:711-723.
- Russell, M. C., Cowan, R. G., Harman, R. M., Walker, A. L., & Quirk, S. M. (2007). The hedgehog signaling pathway in the mouse ovary. Biology of Reproduction. 77:226-236.
- Quirk, S. M., Cowan, R. G., Harman, R. M., Hu, C. L., & Porter, D. A. (2004). Ovarian follicular growth and atresia: the relationship between cell proliferation and survival. Journal of Animal Science. 82 (E. Suppl.):E40-E52.
Presentations and Activities
- Recipe for deciphering mammalian ovulation: A transgenic mouse, a dab of genomics and a hefty dollop of in vivo imaging. Cornell Center for Vertebrate Genomics seminar series. February 2016. Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.