Judith Head, Ph.D.

Adjunct Associate Professor

Department: Cell Biology, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Biography

Dr. Head received her PhD from the Department of Cell Biology at UT Southwestern in 1975. Her work under Dr. Rupert Billingham and Dr. Alan Beer focused on issues related to the acceptance of the fetal-placental unit as a "transplant" by the mother. After joining the faculty of that department in 1977, she engaged in numerous studies relating to the protection transplants are afforded in various sites, including the pregnant uterus, the anterior chamber of the eye, the testis, and the brain. Subsequently, an extensive series of in vitro studies on the trophoblast from murine placentas were conducted, addressing major histocompatibility antigen expression and susceptibility of these crucial placental cells to maternal lymphocytes. Dr. Head moved to the Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences in 1988 and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1999. The major studies related to pregnancy immunology, with rodent models, have been on the natural killer (NK) cells that accumulate in the uterus of both rodents and humans during early pregnancy, including characterization of the cells, mapping their differentiation, and analyzing potential factors influencing their activation in this unique environment. Numerous studies on human placenta and fetal membranes have also been carried out, most recently focused on the biology of the amnion and various aspects potentially related to the phenomenon of membrane rupture. In 2005, she retired from her research work and now focuses on the teaching of medical students. She is currently the director of The Biology of Cells and Tissues course in which the freshmen students learn histology and cell biology.

Education

Undergraduate University of Texas at Austin (1970)
Graduate School University of Texas Southwestern Med Ctr Dallas (1975)

Research Interests

  • Biology of the human amnion
  • Natural killer cells in the uterus

Honors/Awards

  • Outstanding Teaching Award
    For Small Group Teaching, MSI students (2008)
  • Member, NIH study section
    Member of "Human Embryology and Development-1, 1996-2000 (1996)
  • Career Development Award
    To work in another lab, learning molecular biology techniques, from the National Science Foundation (1991)
  • President
    American Association for Reproductive Immunology, 1991-93 (1991)
  • Ida M. Green Fellowship
    To support graduate studies, from the American Association of University Women (1973)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • Association for the Advancement of Science
  • International Association of Medical Science Educators
  • Society for Gynecologic Investigation
  • Society of the Study of Reproduction