Dr. Townson was born and raised in Michigan, where he attended Michigan State University and received his BS degree in Animal Husbandry.  A variety of job- and summer-related experiences before, during and after his time at Michigan State led him to complete the MS degree in Veterinary Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, characterizing ovulation and luteal function in the mare under the mentorship of O.J. Ginther.  From there, he completed his PhD in Dairy Science at The Ohio State University, investigating the regulation of the bovine corpus luteum, with Joy L. Pate as his research advisor.  Postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan and the Reproductive Sciences Program followed, where Dr. Townson, working alongside P. Landis Keyes, published ground-breaking work about chemokines and immune cell recruitment in the ovary.  Dr. Townson then moved to New Hampshire as an Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire where he progressed through the ranks to become Professor.  The recent move to the University of Vermont occurred in 2016, when Dr. Townson became Professor of Animal & Veterinary Sciences.

The current research in the Townson laboratory focuses on the relationships between the immune system and the reproductive system with regard to ovarian function and cancers of the female reproductive tract.  Specifically, we study the local elaboration of molecules that attract and facilitate leukocyte recruitment, signaling mechanisms that influence cell fate decisions, and impacts of these processes as they relate to follicular growth and atresia, ovulation, function of the corpus luteum, and the development of certain cancers.  Studies encompass whole-animal, systems physiology to cellular and molecular biology.  Models include domestic livestock, rodents, primary cell culture, and immortal cell lines.

Research and/or Creative Works


Sarah K. Trisdale, Nicolette M. Schwab, Xiaoying Hou, John S. Davis, David H. Townson 2016 Molecular manipulation of keratin 8/18 intermediate filaments: modulators of FAS-mediated death signaling in human ovarian granulosa tumor cells 10.1186/s13048-016-0217-z

Sullivan, B.T., Cherry, J.A., Sakamoto, H., Henkes, L.E., Townson, D.H, Rueda, B.R. 2010 Cytokeratin-18 (CK18) expression inhibits cytokine-induced death of cervical cancer cells. International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer 20:1474-1481

Kneebone, J., Tsang, P.C.W, Townson, D.H. 2010 Short Communication: Rapid antibiotic screening tests detect antibiotic residues in powdered milk products. Journal of Dairy Science 93:3961-3964.

Townson, D.H., Putnam, A.N., Sullivan, B.T., Guo L., Irving-Rodgers, H.F. 2010 Expression and distribution of cytokeratin 8/18 intermediate filaments in bovine antral follicles and corpus luteum: An intrinsic mechanism of resistance to apoptosis? Histology and Histopathology 25: 889-900.

Cherry, J.A., Hou, X., Rueda, B., Davis J.S., Townson, D.H. Microvascular endothelial cells of the bovine corpus luteum: A comparative examination of the estrous cycle and pregnancy. J. Reprod Dev 54:183-191 (2008).

Townson, D.H. Immune cell-endothelial cell interactions in the bovine corpus luteum. Integr Comp Biol 46:1055-1059 (2006).

Liptak A.R., ,Sullivan, B.T., Henkes, L.E., Wijayagunawardane, M.P.B., Miyamoto, A., Davis, J.S., Rueda, B.R., Townson, D.H. Cooperative expression of monocyte chemoatractant protein 1 within the bovine corpus luteum: Evidence of immune cell-endothelial cell interactions in a coculture system. Biol Reprod 72: 1169-1176 (2005).

Townson, D.H., Tsang PCW, Butler WR, Frajblat M, Griel Jr. LC, Johnson CJ, Milvae RA, Niksic GM, Pate JL. Relationship of fertility to ovarian follicular waves before breeding in dairy cows. Cooperative Regional Research Project, NE-161. Journal of Animal Science 80:1053-1058 (2002).

Townson, D.H., O’Connor CL, Pru JK. Expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and the distribution of immune cell populations in the bovine corpus luteum throughout the estrous cycle. Biol Reprod 66:361-366 (2002).

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Female reproductive physiology, immunology of ovarian function, follicular dynamics, regulation of the corpus luteum


  • Ph.D., The Ohio State University
  • M.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • B.S., Michigan State University


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Courses Taught

ASCI 215 Physiology of Reproduction