Cell & Reproductive Biology Laboratory

The work in this lab is centred around reproductive biology and medicine and in particular the biology of the uterus, implantation of the blastocyst and hormonal influences on the uterus. We are interested in how it is that the uterus manages to tightly regulate those times during the reproductive cycle when it will allow the blastocyst to attach but to prevent attachment and the beginning of a pregnancy at other times.

We are particularly interested in the plasma membrane of uterine epithelial cells and the molecular interactions that occur between the surface of these cells and the implanting blastocyst. We use a variety of methods including immunohistochemistry, protein analysis using western blots, investigate interactions between molecules by immunoprecipitation techniques and gene analysis by PCR. We use in vivo models as well as utilising a number of in vitro cell lines of human uterine epithelial cells and blastocyst culture. The work uses both animal and human tissues and involves basic cell biological research as well as work on human tissues of direct relevance to the human menopause and to In Vitro fertilisation (IVF) programmes.

The laboratory has extensive contacts with the Electron Microscope Unit and the School of Biological Sciences which includes a major project on the evolution of viviparity (live birth) and the development of the placenta. This work involves study on mammals and Australian lizards in particular but also other animals to understand the biology of different types of placentas. We also have collaborations with the Laboratory of Developmental Physiology where we do the majority of our cell culture work which allows us to investigate the direct interaction between uterine epithelial cells and the implanting blastocyst.

Our clinical interests include one of the major diseases of the uterus which affects over a million Australian women - endometriosis - and we have collaborations with Westmead hospital to study this disease.