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New professor working on fertility research

Dr. Jill Bennett-Toomey is a Biology professor currently doing research on oviduct inflammation. (Photo/ONU)

Ohio Northern University participates in a large amount of scientific research, one of those areas being in the fields of pharmacy and biology.

Research is one of those things that isn’t known or talked about at Ohio Northern. More significant research goes on, focusing on the effects of cinnamon on blood glucose to molecules that glow.

Jill Bennett-Toomey is an Assistant Professor of Biology who teaches the pharmacy physiology course as well as introductory biology labs. She is one of several professors who is working on research here at ONU.

Dr. Bennett-Toomey came here to Ohio Northern last year. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with a Doctorate of Philosophy, Physiology and Biophysics.

During her Ph.D. years at UIC, Dr. Bennett-Toomey performed research on how the GATA4 and GATA6 genes in Granulose cells affect fertility. In her research, she was able to determine that if both the GATA4 and GATA6 genes are can result in infertility if removed.

The GATA4 and GATA6 genes are two genes that are strongly related to female fertility. The research Dr. Bennett-Toomey performed led to a belief that GATA4 and GATA6 compensate for ovarian gene regulation.

Her experience in researching the GATA4 and GATA6 genes has led to her current research relating to inflammation of oviducts and how that affects fertility. Inflammation of oviducts can cause infertility since it prevents ovulation.

Dr. Bennett-Toomey used mice as test subjects for the experiments since they share the same GATA4 and GATA6 genes as humans. The animals were treated by following the National Institutes of Health Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

“I’m leaning more towards female fertility within the reproductive tract and I am interested in looking at the inflammation pathways that are involved or present in the oviduct that can be utilized for contraceptive means or to look more closely at inflammation due to STDs like Chlamydia that affect the oviduct,” said Dr. Bennett-Toomey.

The inflammation of the oviduct could be used as a permanent contraceptive, which is an excellent help for third-world countries where surgical options for permanent contraceptives may not be a feasible option.

Outside of research, Dr. Bennett-Toomey has a large interest in Ohio Northern.

When asked about what brought Dr. Bennett-Toomey to ONU, “I was originally a post-doc and I was looking for a teaching position preferably at a smaller private college, just because I’ve also worked at a community college." She stated, "I really liked interacting with my students on a more personal level as opposed to large universities that have hundreds of students and you don’t know any of their names.”

Dr. Bennett-Toomey’s research on oviduct inflammation is a part of the great research that is going on at Ohio Northern.