Department of Reproductive Medicine
Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Department of Reproductive Medicine

Pamela L. Mellon, PhD

Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility

Center for Reproductive Science and Medicine


Vice-Chair for Research

Director, Center for Reproductive Science and Medicine

Distinguished Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Neuroscience


  • PhD - University of California, Berkeley, 1979


Link to Dr. Mellon's Lab

Contact Information:




Telephone: 858-534-1312


Administrative Assistant:

  • Ruth Montouri - 858-534-1140


Research Interests

The brain controls the body’s physiology through neurohormones secreted from the hypothalamus. In particular, reproduction is regulated by the decapeptide gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH is produced by as few as 800 specialized neurons in the hypothalamus. Its function is to control release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary. These hormones in turn control gametogenesis, gonadal steroidogenesis, puberty, menopause, menstrual cycles, and fertility.

We study the regulation of these hormone genes at the molecular level both by hormones and neurotransmitters and throughout development. We use an integrated program of molecular approaches including: 1) Analysis in transgenic and knock-out mice; 2) Generation of novel pituitary and hypothalamic cell lines; 3) Investigation of the transcriptional regulatory proteins that control development, cellular identity, gene expression, and hormonal response; 4) Pulsatile secretion and circadian rhythms; and 5) Genomic approaches including DNA array analysis.

Using targeted oncogenesis in transgenic mice, we have created a variety of cultured cell models for pituitary endocrine cells and hypothalamic neurons. The impact of the development of these models has been enormous, creating entirely new directions for molecular research in reproductive neuroendocrinology. The creation of a series of pituitary cell lines representing sequential stages in development within several of the anterior pituitary endocrine cell lineages has allowed us to significantly illuminate the developmental and hormonal regulation of hormone gene expression, synthesis and secretion. The creation of immortal hypothalamic GnRH neurons has facilitated rapid advances in understanding the roles of neurotransmitters and transcriptional regulators in hypothalamic function. For example, this model allowed the demonstration that the GnRH pulse generator is intrinsic to the GnRH neuron, since secretion is pulsatile in these clonal cells in culture. In addition to Dr. Mellon's own important contributions, researchers around the world are using her cultured cell models to study key issues in neuroendocrinology that were previously unapproachable. The impact of these model systems has produced a revolution in the approaches used to study the neuroendocrinology of reproduction.



  • Mentor Award, Women in Endocrinology, 2014
  • Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Scholar Mentoring, 2013-2014
  • MENTOR Award from the NIH NICHD, 2003-2013
  • Elected to the Council of the Endocrine Society, 2001-2004
  • MERIT Award from the NIH NICHD, 1997-2006
  • The Ernst Oppenheimer Memorial Award of the Endocrine Society, for Meritorious Research in the Field of Endocrinology, 1997
  • The Young Investigator Award of the Pituitary Society for Outstanding Research, 1997


Recent Publications

  • Hoffmann HM, Mellon P. A small population of hypothalamic neurons govern fertility: the critical role of VAX1 in GnRH neuron development and fertility maintenance. Neurosci Commun (Houst). 2016; 2. PMID: 28164172.
    View in: PubMed
  • Huang PP, Brusman LE, Iyer AK, Webster NJ, Mellon P. A Novel Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone 1 (Gnrh1) Enhancer-Derived Noncoding RNA Regulates Gnrh1 Gene Expression in GnRH Neuronal Cell Models. PLoS One. 2016; 11(7):e0158597. PMID: 27389022.
    View in: PubMed
  • Hoffmann HM, Trang C, Gong P, Kimura I, Pandolfi EC, Mellon P. Deletion of Vax1 from Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Neurons Abolishes GnRH Expression and Leads to Hypogonadism and Infertility. J Neurosci. 2016 Mar 23; 36(12):3506-18. PMID: 27013679.
    View in: PubMed
  • Skowronska-Krawczyk D, Zhao L, Zhu J, Weinreb RN, Cao G, Luo J, Flagg K, Patel S, Wen C, Krupa M, Luo H, Ouyang H, Lin D, Wang W, Li G, Xu Y, Li O, Chung C, Yeh E, Jafari M, Ai M, Zhong Z, Shi W, Zheng L, Krawczyk M, Chen D, Shi C, Zin C, Zhu J, Mellon P, Gao W, Abagyan R, Zhang L, Sun X, Zhong S, Zhuo Y, Rosenfeld MG, Liu Y, Zhang K. P16INK4a Upregulation Mediated by SIX6 Defines Retinal Ganglion Cell Pathogenesis in Glaucoma. Mol Cell. 2015 Sep 17; 59(6):931-40. PMID: 26365380.
    View in: PubMed
  • Kauffman AS, Thackray VG, Ryan GE, Tolson KP, Glidewell-Kenney CA, Semaan SJ, Poling MC, Iwata N, Breen KM, Duleba AJ, Stener-Victorin E, Shimasaki S, Webster NJ, Mellon P. A Novel Letrozole Model Recapitulates Both the Reproductive and Metabolic Phenotypes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Female Mice. Biol Reprod. 2015 Sep; 93(3):69. PMID: 26203175


For a full list of publications click HERE