Headshot photo of Shawn L. Chavez, Ph.D.

Shawn L. Chavez, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Oregon National Primate Research Center
  • Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine
  • Associate Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics, School of Medicine
  • Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine
  • Faculty, Center for Embryonic Cell & Gene Therapy
  • Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine


Shawn L. Chavez is an Associate Professor and the Interim Chief of the Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences (DRDS) at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). She is also an Associate Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Molecular and Medical Genetics, and Biomedical Engineering at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), where I have been a faculty member since September of 2013. She obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University, receiving the John Spangler Nicholas Dissertation Award upon graduation, and her B.S. in Biological Sciences with Honors and the Distinction in Major Award from the University of California, Santa Barbara as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Fellow. Shawn completed her Postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University, where she was a NIH/NICHD Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellow.

Dr. Chavez’s research interests focus on the use of real-time imaging and low-input next-generation sequencing to investigate the genetic, epigenetic, and chromosomal requirements of early embryogenesis and placentation in non-human primates and other mammals. In particular her laboratory aims to determine how whole chromosomal abnormalities (aneuploidy) and sub-chromosomal instability may arise or be resolved during preimplantation development. She is also actively examining the molecular and cellular connections between the formation of the placental-derived trophectoderm layer in embryos and subsequent placentation in normal versus complicated pregnancies. Current projects include determining the causative mechanism(s) of embryonic aneuploidy via gene knockdown and overexpression strategies, using novel fluorescent reporters to examine the dynamics of intracellular structures during mitotic divisions by live-cell imaging, and assessing the precise role of primate-specific endogenous retroviruses in trophoblast differentiation from pre- to post-implantation development. Collectively, the goals of this research are to enhance our understanding of normal gametogenesis, embryogenesis, and placentation across different mammalian species, whilst improving in vitro fertilization outcomes for infertile couples by preventing embryo or fetal loss during pregnancy.

Shawn has over 40 peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals and her work has been honored, recognized, and supported through a series of distinguished awards and achievements, including the Abby and Howard Milstein Innovation Award in Reproductive Medicine and the Howard and Georgeanna Jones Foundation for Reproductive Medicine Young Investigators Achievement Award. Shawn's research has been both federally and non-federally funded by grants from the NIH/NICHD, Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, Howard and Georgeanna Jones Foundation, and Collins Medical Trust.

Education and training

    • B.S., 1997, Biological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara
    • M.S., 2003, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, Yale University
    • Ph.D., 2006, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, Yale University
  • Fellowship

    • 2007-2010 NIH/NICHD Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Postdoctoral Fellowship
    • 1996-1997 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Undergraduate Fellowship

Memberships and associations:

  • Member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), 2014-present
  • Science Panelist/Speaker for students visiting ONPRC from the local community, 2014-present
  • Member of the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute Epigenetics Consortium, 2017-present
  • Member of the ONPRC Integrated Informatics Task Force, 2020-present
  • Member of the ONPRC Integrated Pathology Core Task Force, 2020-present
  • Editorial Board Member for Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine, 2021-present
  • Review Editor for the Molecular and Cellular Reproduction section of Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 2021-present
  • Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 2022-present
  • Member of the SSR Publications Committee for Biology of Reproduction, 2022-present
  • Member of the Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI), 2022-present

Areas of interest

  • Aneuploidy and chromosomal instability
  • Embryonic micronuclei formation
  • Mitosis and abnormal cleavage divisions
  • Pre-implantation embryo development
  • DNA methyltransferases in gametogenesis
  • Endogenous retroviruses in reproduction
  • Trophoblast differentiation and placentation

Honors and awards

  • Dr. John Gusdon Memorial New Investigator Award (2001)
  • Elsevier Science New Investigator Award (2004)
  • Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Foundation (2005)
  • John Spangler Nicholas Dissertation Award from Yale University (2006)
  • Howard and Georgeanna Jones Foundation for Reproductive Medicine Young Investigators Achievement Award (2014)
  • Abby and Howard Milstein Innovation Award in Reproductive Medicine (2015, 2016)
  • Appeared on and contributed to PBS NOVA episode, “Fighting for Fertility” (2021)


Selected publications

  • Brooks, KE, Daughtry, BL, Davis, B, Yan, MY, Fei, SS, Shepherd, S, Carbone, L, Chavez, SL. Molecular Contribution to Embryonic Aneuploidy and Karyotypic Complexity in Initial Cleavage Divisions of Mammalian Development. Development 2022; 149(7): dev198341. PMCID: PMC9058497
  • Ravisankar, S, Murphy, MJ, Redmayne-Titley, N, Davis, B, Luo, F, Takahashi, D, Hennebold, JD, Chavez, SL. Long-Term Hyperandrogenemia and/or Western-Style Diet in Rhesus Macaque Females Impairs Preimplantation Embryogenesis. Endocrinology 2022; 163(4): bqac019. PMCID: PMC8962721.
  • Rosenkrantz, JL, Gaffney, J, Roberts, V, Carbone, L, Chavez, SL. Transcriptomic analysis of primate placentas and novel rhesus trophoblast cell lines informs investigations of human placentation. BMC Biology 2021 19(1): 127. PMID: 34154587; PMCID: PMC8218487.
  • Ravisankar S, Ting AY, Murphy MJ, Redmayne N, Wang D, McArthur CA, Takahashi DL, Kievit P, Chavez SL#, Hennebold JD#. Short-term Western-style diet negatively impacts reproductive outcomes in primates. JCI insight. 2021 6(4), 138312. PMCID: PMC7934943. #Co-corresponding authors.
  • Ravisankar S, Brooks KE, Murphy MJ, Redmayne N, Ryu J, Kinchen JM, Chavez SL, Hennebold JD. Metabolomics Analysis of Follicular Fluid Coupled with Oocyte Aspiration Reveals Importance of Glucocorticoid Pathway in Primate Periovulatory Follicle Competency. Sci Rep. 2021 11(1): 6506. PMCID: PMC7985310.
  • Brooks KE, Daughtry BL, Metcalf E, Masterson K, Battaglia D, Gao L, Park B, Chavez SL. Assessing equine embryo developmental competency by time-lapse image analysis. Reprod Fertil Dev. 2019 31(12):1840-1850. PMCID: PMC7170182.
  • Daughtry BL, Rosenkrantz JL, Lazar NH, Fei SS, Redmayne N, Torkenczy KA, Adey A, Yan M, Gao L, Park B, Nevonen KA, Carbone L, Chavez SL. Single-cell sequencing of primate preimplantation embryos reveals chromosome elimination via cellular fragmentation and blastomere exclusion. Genome Res. 2019; 29(3):367-382. PMID: 30683754; PMCID: PMC6396419.
  • Vera-Rodriguez M, Chavez SL, Rubio C, Reijo Pera RA, Simon C. Prediction model for aneuploidy in early human embryo development revealed by single-cell analysis. Nat Commun. 2015; 6:7601. PMCID: PMC4506544.
  • Grow EJ, Flynn RA, Chavez SL, Bayless NL, Wossidlo M, Wesche DJ, Martin L, Ware CB, Blish CA, Chang HY, Pera RA, Wysocka J. Intrinsic retroviral reactivation in human preimplantation embryos and pluripotent cells. Nature. 2015; 522(7555):221-225. PMCID: PMC4503379.
  • Chavez SL, McElroy SL, Bossert NL, De Jonge CJ, Rodriguez MV, Leong DE, Behr B, Westphal LM, Reijo Pera RA. Comparison of epigenetic mediator expression and function in mouse and human embryonic blastomeres. Hum Mol Genet. 2014; 23(18):4970-4984. PMCID: PMC4140471.
  • Chavez SL, Loewke KE, Han J, Moussavi F, Colls P, Munne S, Behr B, Reijo Pera RA. Dynamic blastomere behaviour reflects human embryo ploidy by the four-cell stage. Nat Commun. 2012; 3:1251. PMCID: PMC3535341.


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