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Mirella Meyer-Ficca

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Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences

Reproductive Biology and Toxicology, Environmental Exposures, Epigenetic Influence

Research Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Office Hours: Call or Email for Appointment
Go toOffice Location: Center for Biotechnology 213
DialPhone: 435-797-1685

Educational Background

PhD, Human Genetics, Virology, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tuebingen, 2002
Analyses of Cytotoxicity of the Cardiotropic Coxsackievirus B3 and Development of Strategies for Immortalization of human Cardiomyocytes
MS, Biology (Genetics, Human Genetics, Zoology) and Chemistry (Organic Chemistry), University of Kaiserslautern, 1997
Molecular Cytogenetic Analysis of Spermiogenesis in the Rat


Environmental Toxicology, Offspring Health & Reproductive Potential // Program goals: to understand effects of environmental factors (toxicants, diets, oxidative stressors) on the germline epigenome and gene regulation in offspring; Determine how exposures of germ cells either during prenatal development or in the adult change sperm quality and offspring health; current research focus is on dietary niacin (Vitamin B3), male health & metabolism, and sperm quality and epigenome.


Between 1992 and 1997, I studied Biology and Chemistry at the University of Kaiserslautern (TU Kaiserslautern), Germany, and 1997 received the German Diploma in Biology (equivalent to M.S., with major focus on Genetics, Human Genetics and Organic Chemistry). For graduate training and doctoral research I moved to the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen and the University Hospital of Tübingen, Germany, where I focused on Virology and Human Genetics, and received my Ph.D. degree (Dr.rer.nat., Doctorate in Natural Sciences) in 2002. In 2002, I joined the University of Arizona (Arizona Cancer Center and College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology) as post-doctoral research associate and received further training in Cancer Biology and Toxicology. Between 2005 and 2013, I worked as a Senior Research Investigator at the University of Pennsylvania, conducting research in the fields of Male Reproductive Biology and Toxicology. In 2013, I joined Utah State University as Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences and the School of Veterinary Medicine, where I teaches Veterinary Toxicology.

Teaching Interests

- Veterinary Toxicology - Reproductive Toxicology - Epigenetics - Environmental Health - Molecular Biology / Genetics / Cell Culture Techniques

Research Interests

My main research interest is to understand how environmental factors (e.g. exposure to toxicants, dietary conditions, oxidative stressors, etc.) can change the germ-line epigenome, and thus indirectly gene regulation in offspring, and influence their health and disease. The epigenome comprises additional levels of structural and biochemical information superimposed to the primary DNA sequence information, such as nuclear architecture and genome organization, DNA methylation, posttranslational modification the chromatin associated proteins, e.g. histones, and small RNAs. Epigenetic control appears to be for the development of complex and often late-onset diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and autism. My lab is particularly interested in exposures that occur during the prenatal phase of germ cell development. In other words, we focus on this central question: How does exposure of a pregnant mother to adverse environmental factors influence the germ-line epigenome of the developing offspring? A thorough understanding of the relevant mechanisms will help us to develop adequate lifestyle choices and pharmacological interventions that can improve human and animal health, which is our long-term goal.


2019 ADVS Faculty Researcher of the Year Award, 2019


Interview at Utah Public Radio: "UnDisciplined: The Molecular Geneticist And The Entomological Ecologist", 2018

Utah Public Radio

Invited Speaker, 2017

Testis Workshop 2017 / American Society of Andrology

2017 ADVS Department Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year , 2017

ADVS Department

Susan Heyner Award for Excellence in Research, 2011

Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Travel Award, 2011

American Society for Andrology

Special Recognition Award in Basic Science, 2004

American Association for Cancer Research

Travel Award, 2004

The Fujihara Foundation of Science

Publications - Abstracts

    Publications - Books & Book Chapters

      Book Chapters

    • Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., (2019). Epigenetic Changes in the Paternal Germline: Transgenerational Epigenetics, 2nd Edition.
    • Kirkland, J., Meyer-Ficca, M., (2018). Niacin: Advances in Food and Nutrition Research: New Research and Developments of Water-Soluble Vitamins. Elsevier
    • Meyer, R., Meyer-Ficca, M., Jacobson, E.L, Jacobson, M.K, (2004). Enzymes in poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism: Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation. Landes Bioscience

    * Has not been peer reviewed

    Publications - Fact Sheets

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      Publications - Curriculum

        * Has not been peer reviewed

        Publications - Journal Articles

          Academic Journal

        • Cacciolatti, C., Meyer-Ficca, M., Southwood, L.L, Meyer, R., Bertolotti, L., Zarucco, L., In-vitro effects of poly(ADP-Ribose) polymerase inhibitors in an equine model of inflammation. American Journal of Veterinary Research
        • Palzer, L., Bader, J.J, Angel, F., Witzel, M., Blaser, S., McNeil, A., Wandersee, M.K, Leu, N.A, Lengner, C.J, Cho, C.E, Welch, K.D, Kirkland, J.B, Meyer, R., Meyer-Ficca, M., (2018). Alpha-Amino-Beta-Carboxy-Muconate-Semialdehyde Decarboxylase Controls Dietary Niacin Requirements for NAD+ Synthesis. Cell Reports, 25:5, 1359-1370. doi: doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.09.091
        • Ketchum, C.C, Larsen, C.D, McNeil, A., Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., (2018). Early Histone H4 Acetylation during Chromatin Remodeling in Equine Spermatogenesis. , doi:
        • Meyer, R., Ketchum, C.C, Meyer-Ficca, M., (2017). Heritable Sperm Chromatin Epigenetics: A Break to Remember. Biology of Reproduction, doi:
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Kirkland, J., (2016). NUTRITION INFORMATION BRIEFS - Niacin. Advances in Nutrition, 556-557. doi: doi:10.3945/an.115.011239.
        • Douglas, H.F, Southwood, L.L, Meyer-Ficca, M., Hart, S.K, Meyer, R., (2015). The activity and inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 in equine peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro. , 25:4, 528-37. doi: doi: 10.1111/vec.12316
        • Bryant, J.M, Donahue, G., Wang, X., Meyer-Ficca, M., Luense, L.J, Weller, A.H, Bartolomei, M.S, Blobel, G.A, Meyer, R., Garcia, B.A, Berger, S.L, (2015). Characterization of BRD4 during mammalian postmeiotic sperm development.. Molecular and cellular biology, 35:8, 1433-48.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Ihara, M., Bader, J.J, Leu, N.A, Beneke, S., Meyer, R., (2015). Spermatid head elongation with normal nuclear shaping requires ADP-ribosyltransferase PARP11 (ARTD11) in mice.. Biology of reproduction, 92:3, 80.
        • Ihara, M., Meyer-Ficca, M., Leu, N.A, Rao, S., Li, F., Gregory, B.D, Zalenskaya, I.A, Schultz, R.M, Meyer, R., (2014). Paternal poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism modulates retention of inheritable sperm histones and early embryonic gene expression. PLOS Genetics, doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004317
        • Bryant, J.M, Meyer-Ficca, M., Dang, V.M, Berger, S.L, Meyer, R., (2013). Separation of spermatogenic cell types using STA-PUT velocity sedimentation. J Vis Exp80
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Lonchar, J.D, Ihara, M., Bader, J.J, Meyer, R., (2013). Alteration of poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism affects murine sperm nuclear architecture by impairing pericentric heterochromatin condensation. Chromosoma, 122:4, 319–335.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., (2011). Genetic approaches to targeting multiple PARP genes in a mammalian genome. Methods Mol. Biol., 780, 349–376.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Lonchar, J.D, Ihara, M., Meistrich, M.L, Austin, C.A, Meyer, R., (2011). Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases PARP1 and PARP2 modulate topoisomerase II beta (TOP2B) function during chromatin condensation in mouse spermiogenesis. Biol. Reprod., 84:5, 900–909.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Ihara, M., Lonchar, J.D, Meistrich, M.L, Austin, C.A, Min, W., Wang, Z.Q, Meyer, R., (2011). Poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism is essential for proper nucleoprotein exchange during mouse spermiogenesis. Biol. Reprod., 84:2, 218–228.
        • Whatcott, C.J, Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., Jacobson, M.K, (2009). A specific isoform of poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase is targeted to the mitochondrial matrix by a N-terminal mitochondrial targeting sequence. Exp. Cell Res., 315:20, 3477–3485.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Lonchar, J., Credidio, C., Ihara, M., Li, Y., Wang, Z.Q, Meyer, R., (2009). Disruption of poly(ADP-ribose) homeostasis affects spermiogenesis and sperm chromatin integrity in mice. Biol. Reprod., 81:1, 46–55.
        • Meyer, R., Meyer-Ficca, M., Whatcott, C.J, Jacobson, E.L, Jacobson, M.K, (2007). Two small enzyme isoforms mediate mammalian mitochondrial poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase (PARG) activity. Exp. Cell Res., 313:13, 2920–2936.
        • Gao, H., Coyle, D.L, Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., Jacobson, E.L, Wang, Z.Q, Jacobson, M.K, (2007). Altered poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism impairs cellular responses to genotoxic stress in a hypomorphic mutant of poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase. Exp. Cell Res., 313:5, 984–996.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., Jacobson, E.L, Jacobson, M.K, (2005). Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases: managing genome stability. Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol., 37:5, 920–926.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Scherthan, H., Burkle, A., Meyer, R., (2005). Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation during chromatin remodeling steps in rat spermiogenesis. Chromosoma, 114:1, 67–74.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., Kaiser, H., Brack, A.R, Kandolf, R., Kupper, J.H, (2004). Comparative analysis of inducible expression systems in transient transfection studies. Anal. Biochem., 334:1, 9–19.
        • Cortes, U., Tong, W.M, Coyle, D.L, Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., Petrilli, V., Herceg, Z., Jacobson, E.L, Jacobson, M.K, Wang, Z.Q, (2004). Depletion of the 110-kilodalton isoform of poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase increases sensitivity to genotoxic and endotoxic stress in mice. Mol. Cell. Biol., 24:16, 7163–7178.
        • Meyer, R., Meyer-Ficca, M., Kaiser, H., Selinka, H.C, Kandolf, R., Kupper, J.H, (2004). Plasmid-based generation of recombinant coxsackievirus B3 particles carrying capsid gene replacement replicons. Virus Res., 104:1, 17–26.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Meyer, R., Coyle, D.L, Jacobson, E.L, Jacobson, M.K, (2004). Human poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase is expressed in alternative splice variants yielding isoforms that localize to different cell compartments. Exp. Cell Res., 297:2, 521–532.
        • Meyer, R., Meyer-Ficca, M., Jacobson, E.L, Jacobson, M.K, (2003). Human poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase (PARG) gene and the common promoter sequence it shares with inner mitochondrial membrane translocase 23 (TIM23). Gene, 314, 181–190.
        • Hans, M.A, Muller, M., Meyer-Ficca, M., Burkle, A., Kupper, J.H, (1999). Overexpression of dominant negative PARP interferes with tumor formation of HeLa cells in nude mice: evidence for increased tumor cell apoptosis in vivo.. Oncogene, 18:50, 7010-5.
        • Meyer-Ficca, M., Muller-Navia, J., Scherthan, H., (1998). Clustering of pericentromeres initiates in step 9 of spermiogenesis of the rat (Rattus norvegicus) and contributes to a well defined genome architecture in the sperm nucleus. Journal of Cell Science, 111:10, 1363-70.
        • Professional Journal

        • Meyer, R., Meyer-Ficca, M., Kupper, J., (2016). Adenoviral vectors for modulation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP1) – dependent DNA repair as a predictive tool for chemotherapy. Journal of Cellular Biotechnology / IOS Press, 2:1, 57-68. doi: DOI 10.3233/JCB-15026

        * Has not been peer reviewed

        Publications - Literary Journal

          * Has not been peer reviewed

          Publications - MultiMedia

            * Has not been peer reviewed

            Publications - Technical Reports

              * Has not been peer reviewed

              Publications - Translations & Transcripts

                Publications - Other

                  * Has not been peer reviewed

                  Scheduled Teaching

                  ADVS 6840 - Epigenetics in Public Health, Spring 2019

                  ADVS, BIOL, NDFS 5160 - Methods in Biotechnology: Cell Culture, Spring 2019

                  VM 7523 - Veterinary Toxicology, Spring 2019

                  ADVS 6830 - Communicating and Evaluating Public Health Information: Case Studies in Environmental Health, Fall 2018

                  VM 7522 - Fundamentals of Pharmacology, Fall 2018

                  VM 7510 - Veterinary Microscopic Anatomy, Fall 2018

                  Honors Book Lab, Summer 2018

                  ADVS, BIOL, PSC 5160 - Methods in Biotechnology: Cell Culture, Spring 2018

                  ADVS 6810 - Seminars in Toxicology, Spring 2018

                  VM 7523 - Veterinary Toxicology, Spring 2018

                  ADVS 6830 - Environmental Health, Fall 2017

                  VM 7522 - Fundamentals of Pharmacology, Fall 2017

                  VM 7510 - VM7510 Veterinary Microscopic Anatomy, Fall 2017

                  ADVS 6810 - Seminars in Toxicology, Spring 2017

                  VM 7523 - Veterinary Toxicology, Spring 2017

                  VM 7522 - Fundamentals of Pharmacology, Fall 2016

                  VM 7510 - VM7510 Veterinary Microscopic Anatomy, Fall 2016

                  VM 7523 - Veterinary Toxicology, Spring 2016

                  VM 7522 - Fundamentals of Pharmacology, Fall 2015

                  VM 7510 - Veterinary Microscopic Anatomy, Fall 2015

                  VM 7523 - Veterinary Toxicology, Spring 2015

                  VM 7522 - Fundamentals of Pharmacology, Fall 2014

                  VM7510 Veterinary Microscopic Anatomy, Fall 2014

                  VM 7523 - Veterinary Toxicology, Spring 2014

                  VM7510 Veterinary Microscopic Anatomy, Fall 2013

                  Graduate Students Mentored