SWS: Dr. Janine Brown, Reproductive Physiologist (SCBI)

Dr. Brown received her BA in Animal Sciences from North Dakota State University in 1976, her MA (1980) and PhD (1984) in Animal Sciences from Washington State University.

Dr. Brown conducts research to better understand the reproductive biology of endangered species. She joined the National Zoological Park (NZP) in 1991 and now is Head of the Endocrine Research Laboratory at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). She also is in charge of the zoo's Elephant Reproduction Program. She trains fellows, students and volunteers in basic and applied research methods, specifically in the areas of endocrinology and theriogenology. She is devoted to increasing knowledge that will lead to better management and conservation of endangered species. Dr. Brown coordinates one of the world's largest and most productive endocrinology laboratories that benefits wildlife species. This laboratory is used for the research of Dr. Brown and her students, but it also is a service laboratory for other zoological institutions from the USA and abroad. Research efforts are connected to the scientific disciplines of behavior, reproductive endocrinology and stress management. Specific research areas include studying reproductive and behavioral relationships in felids (e.g., cheetah and clouded leopard among others) and rhinoceroses (e.g., African white, African black and Indian one-horned). She also is a world authority on elephant reproductive biology. Her laboratory plays a key role in ex situ management plans for Asian and African elephants in the U.S. and in range countries like Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Dr. Brown collaborated in the development of a successful artificial insemination technique for elephants, and consistently works with other institutions interested in understanding and overcoming infertility problems in ex situ elephant populations. She also oversaw the development of non-invasive techniques for monitoring gonadal and adrenal activity through the analysis of steroids excreted in urine, feces, hair and saliva. As a result, she now has amassed an extensive database for more than two dozen species demonstrating the diversity of estrous cycle dynamics, seasonal activity and ovulatory mechanisms. This methodology has proven invaluable for assessing ovarian responses to ovulation induction procedures, leading to improved assisted breeding protocols, such as those used with artificial insemination. Finally, fecal and hair corticoid analyses are proving instrumental in assessing the impact of management and husbandry practices on stress and well-being in captive animals in the U.S. and in range countries. Dr. Brown's projects often are linked to relationships with the Species Survival Plans (SSP) of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. She is a Reproductive Advisor to the Felid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), Rhinoceros TAG and the Elephant SSP/TAG, providing advice and direct research assistance to improve breeding management. Dr. Brown practices capacity building through training of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and interns who will carry on this important, multidisciplinary work in the future. She coordinates training workshops in endocrine techniques as part of university courses in the U.S. and technology transfer efforts in countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka and China. Dr. Brown has more than 150 publications in the peer-reviewed literature, including several book chapters and review articles. She is a frequent invited lecturer at national and international scientific conferences, is an Emeritus and founding member of the International Society for Wildlife Endocrinology (ISWE), and serves on the Editorial Boards of Zoo Biology and Animal Reproduction Science.

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Dr. Janine Brown with Shanthi


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