Tom Spencer is a reproductive and developmental biologist recognized for his work on the development and function of the uterus and placenta. He is known particularly for studies on the development and function of the glands of the uterus. Spencer grew up in Auburn, Alabama. He graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. and M.S. in Animal and Dairy Sciences and earned a Ph.D. in Physiology of Reproduction from Texas A&M University. Following postdoctoral research in molecular and cell biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, he joined the faculty of Texas A&M University-College Station, where he rose to the rank of Full Professor. In 2015, he joined the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he was named a Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Animal Sciences and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health in 2018. Spencer has actively served the scientific community as a member of the NIH Pregnancy and Neonatology study section, chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Reproductive Tract Biology, faculty in the Frontiers in Reproduction course, and various leadership roles in the Society for the Study of Reproduction. He has received numerous awards, including the Society for the Study of Reproduction Research Award (2013) and Trainee Mentoring Award (2016). In addition to the National Academy of Sciences, he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Research Interests

Spencer's laboratory seeks to define critical physiological and genetic pathways that regulate uterine development, function, and regeneration in order to improve reproduction and health of women and animals. His earlier work established that the glands of the uterus are essential for embryo survival and growth using the ovine uterine gland knockout model. Subsequent research revealed fundamental aspects of postnatal uterine development and uterine receptivity as well as illuminated the evolutionary biology and functional role of endogenous retroviruses in placental development. Current research foci in his lab include: cellular and molecular mechanisms governing development of the uterus; biological role of extracellular vesicles (exosomes and microvesicles) in uterine function; maternal and paternal regulation of pregnancy establishment in cattle; placental development in domestic animals; development of animal models to study uterine function; and biological roles of uterine glands and their products in uterine receptivity, stromal cell decidualization, and placental development.

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Primary Section

Section 61: Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology