Our laboratory has two focus areas: progesterone’s actions mediated by membrane receptors, and chemokines’ effects in early pregnancy and breast cancer. One goal of our laboratory is to elucidate the functions of membrane progesterone receptors (MPRs) in normal and compromised pregnancies, as well as their roles in reproductive cancers. These receptors are unique as they are structurally distinct from the classic nuclear progesterone receptors and have different physiological functions. As such, MPRs add to the intricate mechanisms by which progesterone elicits biological actions in normal and disease states. Elucidating the functions and downstream signaling of these receptors in reproduction will greatly aid in clarifying their role in cancer biology as well.

The other focus area of our laboratory is the role that the chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) and its ligand, CXCL12, play during early pregnancy, particularly implantation of trophoblast cells into maternal endometrium and subsequent development of the placenta. CXCL12/CXCR4 activation is associated with immune functions, cell survival and proliferation and vascularization. Abnormal placental growth and vascular development early in pregnancy leads to poor fetal growth and survival and can result in compromised health in the offspring later in life. Additionally, CXCL12 and CXCR4 are implicated in a number of reproductive cancers, with established roles in breast cancer metastasis and are hormonally regulated.

Dr. Ashley joined the faculty of the Department of Animal and Range Sciences in 2010 and is part of the interdisciplinary Molecular Biology Program at NMSU. He completed his B.S. and M.S. in Animal Sciences at NMSU. Dr. Ashley is a participant in RISE, MARC, and HHMI programs at NMSU. Dr. Ashley received his Ph.D. at Colorado State University in Biomedical Sciences with an emphasis in Reproductive Physiology and completed a postdoc at Colorado State University as well. He is from a ranch in eastern New Mexico and understands the agricultural industry in New Mexico and the importance of applied reproductive physiology to producers.


Research Support:

  • Understanding the role of membrane progesterone receptor alpha signaling in breast cancer. Cowboys for Cancer Research Organization (C4CR). Ryan Ashley (PI), 11/1/14 – 10/31/15.
  • Advancing understanding of hormonal contributors to breast cancer etiology and progression. . NIH U54 Partnership for the Advancement of Cancer Research (PACR). CoPI: Ryan Ashley, CoPIs: Christopher Li and Peggy Porter (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA).
  • Pregnancy-induced chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) and associated immune cells: Implication in vascularization and formation of the bovine placentome. USDA\CSREES, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program. Ryan Ashley (PI), 9/1/09 – 8/31/11.
  • Breast Cancer: The role of progestins in modulating DNA replication via the membrane progesterone receptor alpha. Internal Research Grant. PI: Amanda Ashley, CoPIs: Ryan Ashley (Department of Animal and Range Sciences), Jessica Houston (Department of Chemical Engineering). 9/1/2011-10/31/2012.



Dr. Ashley serves as a primary or co-instructor in the listed courses and guest lectures in others:

  • Physiology of Reproduction (ANSC 421)
  • Advanced Reproductive Physiology (ANSC 602)
  • Molecular Techniques in Reproductive Physiology (ANSC 602L)
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal-Pineal Endocrinology (ANSC 604)
  • Gonadal and Uterine Endocrinology (ANSC 605)
  • Endocrinology of Pregnancy, Parturition, and Lactation (ANSC 606)

Email Dr. Ashley for more information!