Dr. Gordon Niswender, director of Colorado State University’s Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory and a University Distinguished Professor, has another accomplishment to add to a long list of achievements.
Niswender has become only the third American to receive the prestigious Hammond Award, given annually by the Society for the Study of Fertility in the United Kingdom. The award is in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in promoting a better understanding of issues in the area of animal reproduction.
"It is a real honor to be recognized at an international level for a career that has been intellectually stimulating and fruitful," Niswender said. "It is gratifying to know that the work we do here can be implemented globally to help solve reproduction problems in animals and in humans." As part of the award, Niswender flew to Utrecht, Netherlands, as guest lecturer to present his research before representatives from 27 different countries, mostly physicians and academics, on the subject for which he won the award, "Molecular Control of Luteal Secretion of Progesterone."
"Thirty-five percent of all bovine embryos are lost within the first month of pregnancy due to an inadequate secretion of progesterone," Niswender said. "In humans, it’s closer to 40 percent. Many women aren’t even aware of the loss."
Niswender noted that much of the research he does directly affect humans. Under his direction, the university’s Animal Reproduction Laboratory has the longest running, continuously funded training grant from the National Institutes of Health to train scientists in solving human reproduction problems.
In the livestock industry, the 35 percent rate of lost embryos translates into a loss of about $400 million annually, Niswender said. More important, he pointed out, is the "loss of about 500 million pounds of high-protein food we could use to feed the world." Niswender, one of only a dozen professors at Colorado State recognized as a University Distinguished Professor, has been researching ways for improving reproduction among agricultural animals -and thus the food supply for a growing world population – for more than 30 years.
A native of Gillette, Wyo., Niswender earned his bachelor’s in agricultural education from the University of Wyoming, his master’s in animal science from the University of Nebraska and his doctorate in animal science from the University of Illinois. He came to Colorado State in 1972 as an associate professor in the Department of Physiology. He is author and co-author of numerous papers and book chapters on fertility and reproduction. He and his wife Jody live in Windsor, Colo.
The Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory is an integral part of the Department of Physiology in the college of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. What began in 1941 as the "Bull Farm" to study the artificial insemination of dairy cattle has become an internationally recognized leader in the field of animal reproduction biotechnology and genetic engineering of agricultural animals.
The Society for the Study of Fertility grew out of regular meetings of a small group of biologists, clinicians and veterinarians at University College in Exeter, England, to discuss issues of mutual interest relating to fertility in man and animals. Formalized in 1950, the society has become an internationally recognized entity providing a valuable opportunity for the exchange of information between biologists, clinicians and veterinarians.