Richard L. Stouffer

A major unanswered question in reproductive research is which factors control the cyclic activity of the ovary. The female ovarian or menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. In the first half of the cycle, one follicle is selected to mature and release an egg for possible fertilization in the reproductive tract; in the second half, the follicle wall is converted into the corpus luteum - an endocrine gland that secretes the hormone progesterone that is vital for the initiation and maintenance of pregnancy.

Richard Stouffer and his associates investigate the factors controlling the growth and ovulation of the mature follicle at midcycle, as well as development of the corpus luteum from the ovulatory follicle and its function until the end of the menstrual cycle or into early pregnancy. Studies on intact monkeys and research on isolated ovarian tissues and cells are unraveling the complex interaction between substances produced within the ovary (e.g., steroid hormones and growth factors) and those coming from other organs (gonadotropins from the pituitary gland and placenta) in controlling the ovulatory follicle and corpus luteum.

Stouffer's discovery that progesterone-producing cells within the ovulatory follicle and corpus luteum also contain progesterone receptors led to research identifying an essential role for this steroid hormone within the ovary for follicle rupture and release of the egg, and for development of the corpus luteum. Molecular and cellular approaches are being applied to identify genes and their products that are essential for ovulation of the follicle, conversion of the follicle into the corpus luteum, and extension of luteal structure-function into early pregnancy. In vitro and in vivo (animal) experiments are testing which genes are regulated by hormones or local factors, and if gene products or pharmaceutical antagonists have potential of novel contraceptive agents for women.

Stouffer’s group is also working with a consortium of scientists from OHSU, University of Pittsburgh and University of California, Los Angeles, to investigate the effects of chronic androgen exposure with or without a typical western-style (high fat) diet, on reproduction and metabolism of young adult, female monkeys. The goal is to determine if these experimental manipulations result in changes reminiscent of those seen in adolescent girls at risk for polycystic ovarian syndrome, and hence provide insight into the causes and possible treatment of this common infertility disorder in women.

This research is directly relevant to continued efforts to improve the clinical approaches to treating infertility and high-risk pregnancy, and to develop new methods of contraception. New information will also aid in the preservation of nonhuman primates through assisted reproductive techniques, such as in vitro fertilization.


Richard Stouffer is Senior Scientist and former Chief of the Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences, and Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology (Ob-Gyn), and Physiology & Pharmacology in the OHSU School of Medicine. He is ONPRC director of the NIH-sponsored and newly named National Center for Translational Research on Reproduction and Infertility (NCTRI) at OHSU (see ENDO-TV video here). The center formerly known as the Specialized Cooperative Center Program for Infertility and Reproduction Research at OHSU, which is part of a network of 7 centers in the United States. He is also co-director of the NIH-sponsored Contraceptive Development & Research Center at OHSU, which networks with 3 other centers in the U.S.A. Recently, Dr. Stouffer became scientific director of the NIH-funded Women's Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Career Development Center in Ob-Gyn, OHSU. He earned a Ph.D. in physiology/pharmacology from Duke University Medical School in 1975. After two years as a staff research fellow in the Reproductive Research Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Dr. Stouffer became an Assistant Professor of Physiology at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, where he remained until his 1985 appointment at ONPRC, OHSU.

Key Publications


Stouffer, RL, Hennebold, JD. (2014) Structure, Function and Regulation of the Corpus Luteum. Chapter 23, in Knobil and Neill’s Physiology of Reproduction. 4th edition, Plant TM and Zeleznik AJ, editors, p.1703-1726.

Xu, J., McGee, W. K., Bishop, C. V., Park, B. S., Cameron, J. L., Zelinski, M. B., and Stouffer, R. L. (2015) Exposure of female macaques to Western-style diet with or without chronic testosterone in vivo alters secondary follicle function during encapsulated 3-dimensional culture. Endocrinology 156, 1133-1142. PMCID: PMC4330314.

Bishop, C.V., Hennebold, J. D., Kahl, C. A., and Stouffer, R. L. (2016) Knockdown of Progesterone Receptor (PGR) in Macaque Granulosa Cells Disrupts Ovulation and Progesterone Production. Biol Reprod 94, 109. PMCID: PMC4939739.

Peluffo, MC, Stanley, J, Braeuer, N, Rotgeri, A, Fritzemeier, KH, Fuhrmann, U, Buchmann, B, Adevai, T, Murphy, MJ, Zelinski, MB, Lindenthal, B, Hennebold, JD, and Stouffer, RL. (2014) A prostaglandin E2 receptor antagonist prevents pregnancies during a preclinical contraceptive trial with female macaques. Hum Reprod 29:1400-1412. PMCID: PMC4059334


See a full listing of Dr. Stouffer's publications