Photo of Shawn L. Chavez, Ph.D.

Shawn L. Chavez Ph.D.

  •      (503) 346-5423
    • Assistant Professor Oregon National Primate Research Center
    • Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology School of Medicine
    • Assistant Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology 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 Assistant 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 Physiology & Pharmacology 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 aneuploidy via gene knockdown strategies, using novel fluorescent reporters to examine intracellular embryonic structures by live-cell imaging, and assessing the precise role of a primate-specific endogenous retrovirus 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 and 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, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Human Molecular Genetics, and Stem Cells. 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.

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Areas of interest

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


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

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

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)

Memberships and associations

  • Associate Editor for Molecular Human Reproduction (MHR), 2014-2018
  • Member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), 2014-present
  • Member of the OHSU West Campus Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), 2014-present
  • Division Representative for the ONRPC Recruitment and Retention Task Force, 2014-present
  • Science Panelist/Speaker for students visiting ONPRC from the local community, 2014-present
  • Section Chair & Organizer for the ONPRC Primate Genetics Symposium, 2015-2017
  • Member of the International Embryo Technology Society (IETS), 2016-present
  • Member of the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute Epigenetics Consortium, 2017-present


  • Daughtry, B.L. and Chavez, S.L. Time-Lapse Imaging for the Detection of Chromosomal Abnormalities in Primate Pre-Implantation Embryos. Methods in Molecular Biology 2018 1769: 293317. PMID: 29564832.

  • Krendl, C., Shaposhnikov, D., Rishko, V., Ori, C., Ziegenhain, C., Sass, S., Straub, T., Brooks, K.E., Chavez, S.L., Enard, W., Theis, F.J., and Drukker, M. A GATA2/3-TFAP2A/C transcription factor network couples human ES cell differentiation to trophectoderm with repression of pluripotency. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2017 114(45): E9579-E9588 PMCID: PMC5692555.

  • Meyer, T.J., Rosenkrantz, J.L., Carbone, L., and Chavez, S.L. Endogenous Retroviruses: With Us and Against Us. Frontiers in Chemistry 2017 5:23 PMCID: PMC5384584.

  • Hasley, A., Chavez, S., Danilchik, M., Wu?hr, M. and Pelegri, F. Vertebrate embryonic cleavage pattern determination. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 2017 953: 117-171. PMID: 27975272.

  • Daughtry, B.L. and Chavez, S.L. Chromosomal Instability in Mammalian Pre-implantation Embryos: Potential Causes, Detection Methods and Clinical Consequences. Cell and Tissue Research 2016 363(1): 201-225. PMCID: PMC5621482.

  • Carbone, L. and Chavez, S.L. Mammalian Pre-Implantation Chromosomal Instability: Species Comparison, Evolutionary Considerations and Pathological Correlations. Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine 2015 61(6): 321-335. PMID: 26366555.

  • Vera-Rodriguez, M., Chavez, S.L., Rubio, C., Reijo Pera, R.A., Simón C. Prediction model for aneuploidy in early human embryo development revealed by single-cell analysis. Nature Communications 2015 6:7601. PMCID: PMC4506544.

  • Grow, E.J., Flynn, R.A., Chavez, S.L., Bayless, N.L., Wossidlo, M., Weshe, D., Martin, L., Ware, C., Blish, C., Chang, H.Y., Reijo Pera, R.A., Wysocka, J. Intrinsic retroviral reactivation in human preimplantation development and pluripotent cells. Nature 2015 522(7555): 221-225. PMCID: PMC4503379.

  • Chavez, S.L., McElroy, S.L., Behr, B., Bossert, N.L., De Jonge, C.J., Westphal, L.M., Reijo Pera, R.A. Comparison of epigenetic mediator expression and function in mouse and human embryonic blastomeres. Human Molecular Genetics 2014 23 (18): 4970-4984. PMCID: PMC4140471.

  • Chavez, S.L., Loewke, K.E., Han, J., Moussavi, F., Colls, P., Munne, S., Behr, B., Reijo Pera, R.A. Dynamic blastomere behaviour reflects human embryo ploidy by the four-cell stage. Nature Communications 2012 3:1251. PMCID: PMC3535341.

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