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
  • Affiliate Member, Primate Genetics Section, Oregon National Primate Research Center
  • Faculty, GT.Center for Embryonic Cell & Gene Therapy
  • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, School of Medicine


Shawn L. Chavez is an Associate Professor in the Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) as well as in the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Molecular & Medical Genetics at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), where she has 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 pregnancies versus those complicated by preterm labor. 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 35 peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals such as Nature, Nature Communications, Nature Biotechnology, Genome Research, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 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:

  • Associate Editor for Molecular Human Reproduction (MHR), 2014-2018
  • Member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), 2014-present
  • Division Representative for the ONPRC Recruitment and Retention Task Force, 2014-2017
  • Member of the OHSU West Campus Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), 2014-2019
  • Science Panelist/Speaker for students visiting ONPRC from the local community, 2014-present
  • Section Chair & Organizer for the ONPRC Annual Scientific Symposium, 2015-present
  • Member of the International Embryo Technology Society (IETS), 2016-present
  • Member of the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute Epigenetics Consortium, 2017-present
  • Member of the Program Committee for the SSR Annual Meeting, 2019-present
  • Member of the ONPRC Integrated Informatics Task Force, 2020-present
  • Editorial Board Member for Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine, 2021-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)


Selected publications

  • Ravisankar S, Ting AY, Murphy MJ, Redmayne-Titley 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 [Epub ahead of print]. #These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • 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 Jan;31(12):1840-1850. doi: 10.1071/RD19254. PMID: 31759400; PMCID: PMC7170182.
  • Redmayne N, Chavez SL. Optimizing Tissue Preservation for High-Resolution Confocal Imaging of Single-Molecule RNA-FISH. Curr Protoc Mol Biol. 2019 Dec;129(1):e107. doi: 10.1002/cpmb.107. PMID: 31763781; PMCID: PMC7202135.
  • 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 Mar;29(3):367-382. doi: 10.1101/gr.239830.118. Epub 2019 Jan 25. PMID: 30683754; PMCID: PMC6396419.
  • Bishop CV, Reiter TE, Erikson DW, Hanna CB, Daughtry BL, Chavez SL, Hennebold JD, Stouffer RL. Chronically elevated androgen and/or consumption of a Western-style diet impairs oocyte quality and granulosa cell function in the nonhuman primate periovulatory follicle. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2019 Jul;36(7):1497-1511. doi: 10.1007/s10815-019-01497-8. Epub 2019 Jun 11. PMID: 31187329; PMCID: PMC6657409.
  • Daughtry BL, Chavez SL. Time-Lapse Imaging for the Detection of Chromosomal Abnormalities in Primate Preimplantation Embryos. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1769:293-317. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7780-2_19. PMID: 29564832.
  • Meyer TJ, Rosenkrantz JL, Carbone L, Chavez SL. Endogenous Retroviruses: With Us and against Us. Front Chem. 2017 Apr 7;5:23. doi: 10.3389/fchem.2017.00023. PMID: 28439515; PMCID: PMC5384584.
  • Hasley A, Chavez S, Danilchik M, Wühr M, Pelegri F. Vertebrate Embryonic Cleavage Pattern Determination. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;953:117-171. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-46095-6_4. PMID: 27975272; PMCID: PMC6500441.
  • Daughtry BL, Chavez SL. Chromosomal instability in mammalian pre-implantation embryos: potential causes, detection methods, and clinical consequences. Cell Tissue Res. 2016 Jan;363(1):201-225. doi: 10.1007/s00441-015-2305-6. Epub 2015 Nov 21. PMID: 26590822; PMCID: PMC5621482.
  • Carbone L, Chavez SL. Mammalian pre-implantation chromosomal instability: species comparison, evolutionary considerations, and pathological correlations. Syst Biol Reprod Med. 2015;61(6):321-35. doi: 10.3109/19396368.2015.1073406. Epub 2015 Sep 14. PMID: 26366555.


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