Mon, 2013/02/25


What SC’s Alligators Can Tell Us About Our Reproductive Health: Next Science Café, March 12, 2013 

Columbia, S.C. (Feb. 25, 2013): Alligators and humans are more alike than you’d ever imagine. Their ovaries are identical to ours at the gene level, and we share many common reproductive diseases. Such facts fuel the research of SmartState Endowed Chair Dr. Louis Guillette, this month’s speaker at Science Café, presented by EngenuitySC on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Speakeasy cocktail bar in Five Points. EngenuitySC's popular networking event and lecture series continues with an informal talk about how South Carolina’s alligators are helping this OB-GYN professor and his Charleston-based research team – recent winners of a coveted BP Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative grant

– to investigate the causes of obesity, premature infertility and diseases like polycystic ovary syndrome in humans.

In a casual, pub setting which encourages interaction, Dr. Guillette will discuss his work on the fetal origins of adult disease at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. By partnering with fertility doctors and examining “early warning” species like alligators, Guillette and his team study the way that various chemicals, such as phthalates – chemical stabilizers common in hand creams, makeup and other toiletries – adversely affect women and their unborn children.

“We’re most concerned with healthy kids and healthy grandkids,” says Dr. Guillette. “That's what it's all about, and that's why we do what we do."

Free admission, cash bar and a relaxed atmosphere are hallmarks of Science Café, home to "The Year of the SmartState" – a new, yearlong partnership between EngenuitySC and the SmartState Program™ (also known as the South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence Program).Guests enjoy up-front access to international thought leaders in medicine, technology and science, each of whom has been specially recruited to bring their work to South Carolina.

“With the SmartState Program™, the state is taking someone like me, a molecular biologist, and pairing me with physicians and researchers from diverse backgrounds in an environment where we’re examining next-generation health,” notes Dr. Guillette, whose fellow team leaders at the Hollings Marine Laboratory on James Island, S.C., include a MUSC professor of pathology, federal (NIST) analytical chemists, and a DNR expert in machine learning. “Such diverse teams are most likely to win grants,” he continues. “And we might be increasing the efficiency of how the medical care system works – which could save money in the long run.”

Dr. Guillette is the SmartState Endowed Chair in Marine Genomics at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is a toxicology expert whose research focuses on how various environmental factors can lead to birth defects in wildlife and humans. His work involving wildlife, especially crocodilians, is internationally recognized.

Dr. Guillette partners with researchers in MUSC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Department of Pediatrics to perform pilot studies on the developmental health of babies. His research could help lead to the development of new testing procedures that prevent or treat health problems caused by environmental factors.

An award-winning teacher of Embryology and Reproductive Biology, Dr. Guillette has advised such countries as New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Botswana on the development of reproductive biology programs for endangered wildlife. He also is recognized for his research examining environmental contaminants and reproductive/endocrine disruption in various wildlife species and humans. He has served as an expert witness to the
U.S. Congress and as a science policy advisor to various governmental agencies regarding environmental contamination and health. For more information about Dr. Guillette, visit

About Science Café
EngenuitySC hosts Science Café at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month, featuring informal presentations by some of South Carolina's top leaders in science and technology in a casual atmosphere. Guests enjoy networking and a cash bar with high quality beer, wine and cocktails at Speakeasy in Five Points, a comfortable, pub-style environment with couches and expert mixologists behind the bar. The 2012-2013 season is "The Year of the SmartState" at Science Café; patrons have the opportunity to discuss the latest knowledge economy topics with SmartState Program™ Endowed Chairs in a relaxed environment that encourages questions, interruptions and discussion. Advanced registration is highly recommended in order to earn points towards the Science Café loyalty program, which awards prizes like Science Café pint glasses, drink vouchers, gift cards, VIP seating, T-shirts and lighthearted, honorary titles to frequent guests. For more information and to register for free admission to the next Science
Café, visit

About EngenuitySC
Headquartered in Columbia, EngenuitySC is a public/private partnership formed to develop and grow the South Carolina Midlands’ knowledge-based economy by fostering an environment where entrepreneurship, innovation, and the creation of knowledge are fundamental elements of the region’s culture, identity, and economic development strategy. Through collaboration with business, government, and higher education, EngenuitySC leads initiatives that support research development, promote commercialization, and leverage the region’s assets. For more information, visit

About the SmartState Program™
The SmartState Program™ serves the public interest by creating incentives for the state’s research universities, in cooperation with other institutions of higher education in the state, to raise capital from non-state sources to fund endowments for specialized research professorships. These professorships in turn serve as the nucleus for unique, university-based research centers which cultivate critical, public-private industrial partnerships, expand the state’s knowledge base, create well-paying jobs, and enhance economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for the people of South Carolina. For more information, visit

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Twitter hashtag: #ScienceCafeCAE

Contact: Tracie Broom, Flock and Rally, 415.235.5718,
Debi Schadel, Flock and Rally, 803.348.8861,


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