David H. Abbott, PhD

Email: abbott@primate.wisc.edu
Title: Professor
Department: Obstetrics & Gynecology
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PubMed Publications


BSc 1975 University of Endinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
PhD 1979 University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
1st Postdoctoral Position: University of Wisconsin-Madison


Research Focus

I have over 30 years of experience employing animal models of female reproductive endocrinology to determine pathophysiological mechanisms underlying a variety of reproductive health disorders commonly found in women. Currently, there are two main areas of research focus: polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) afflicting up to 15% of women and female hyposexual dysfunction affecting ~10% of women. Both areas are collaborative efforts with PIs on campus and at other institutions. In collaboration with Drs. Daniel Dumesic (UCLA), Jon Levine (Dept. of Neuroscience) and Dawn Davis (Dept. of Medicine), my lab developed a comprehensive nonhuman primate model for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that has been the vanguard for a multitude of animal and human studies aimed at determining developmental origins of this most common endocrinopathy in women. With NIH funding, we have translated insight gained from the nonhuman primate model to discern pathophysiological mechanism causing discrete aspects of reproductive and metabolic dysfunction in women with PCOS, including abnormalities at the molecular level in the hypothalamus, adipose tissue, pancreas and ovary. Our most recent work identifies metabolic dysfunction and re-reprogramming of hypothalamic regulation as possibly the initial abnormalities in early developmental origins of PCOS. Most recently, we have been employing viral vector knockdown approaches to functionally identify molecular mechanisms. With regard to female hyposexual dysfunction, in collaboration with Drs. Alex Converse (Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior), Yves Aubert (University of Bergen, Norway), Nicole Datson (BioMarin Nederland B.V., Netherlands) and Kelly Allers and Bernd Sommer (Boehringer Ingelheim, Germany), we have used MRI and PET neuroimaging, together with molecular neurobiology and digitized behavioral observations, to elucidate neural components contributing to female nonhuman primate social and sexual interactions with male pairmates. Our latest study contributed to a successful bench-to-bedside completion for flibanserin (Addyl), with the therapeutic achieving approval by the FDA for clinical use in treating hyposexuality in women, commencing October, 2015.

Program Activities

  • Joined ERP Program: 1993
  • Teaching
    • Animal Sciences 875: Endocrine Physiology
    • Animal Sciences 875: Reproductive Patterns


Current Trainees Degree Goal
Marissa Kraynak PhD
Beverly Hutcherson MS
Past Trainees Degree Completed
Joel Eisner PhD
Rao Zhou PhD