Professor Richard A Anderson

JRichard Andersonob title:
Elsie Inglis Professor of Clinical Reproductive Science
Head of Section, Obstetrics and Gynaecology
(University of Edinburgh)

Contact details:
Telephone: 242 6386   Email:   Room: W1.27
PA: Jackie Young  Telephone: 242 6988
Email:  Room: C1.20

Research Interests

Women are born with a finite number of germ cells (GC), which cannot be replaced. Understanding of how female reproductive potential is established is thus central to knowledge of human fertility and its disorders, how early development might impact on adult function, and to any attempt to alter its regulation. We have now established a programme of studies which address not which factors might be relevant to these processes in the fetal ovary and directly address their functional roles and interactions in the human. These studies are informed by animal data, although often requiring refinement to translate both growth factor expression patterns and function to the human. Our work has included GC development leading up to primordial follicle formation, as the essential structures underpinning female fertility. We also study earlier stages in GC and gonadal development, when GCs are proliferating rapidly and subsequently entering meiosis.  This is itself a key event both limiting further GC proliferation and being the first stage towards ensuring correct oocyte chromosomal arrangement for successful fertilisation and embryo formation. Understanding of both intrinsic and extrinsic GC factors regulating proliferation and survival, and the regulation of entry into meiosis is crucial for a fuller picture of how the ovary develops. Together with Dr Evelyn Telfer, we are developing recent advances in laboratory techniques to support human oocyte development in vitro from primordial follicles through antral stages to full maturation, meiotic resumption and potentially analysis of developmental potential.

These laboratory-based studies are complimented by clinical studies addressing reproductive function in women with accelerated follicle loss from cancer therapies.  These studies will improve understanding of the impact of chemotherapy on ovarian function to determine the mechanisms of this toxicity, explore clinical assessment methods, and to allow improved patient information.

Current research projects

  • Human ovarian development
  • Development of ovarian cryopreservation for fertility preservation
  • Regulation of human follicle growth
  • Effects of chemotherapy on oocyte and follicle development
  • Regulation of the HPG axis by kisspeptin


Systematic investigation of the effect of chemotherapeutic agents on the ovary using an ovarian follicle culture system.
Norah Spears (PI), Evelyn Telfer, Richard Anderson and Charlie Gourley. MRC 2011-2014.

Developmental and meiotic potential of oocytes derived from human ovarian germ line stem cells.
Evelyn Telfer and Richard Anderson.
MRC 2013-2016.

1/07/08-30/06/11 MRC Experimental Medicine G0701682
Kisspeptin antagonists as novel regulators of reproductive function and as potential therapeutics for hormone dependent pathologies.
£540,692. With RP Millar.

1/08/2009-30/07/2011 World Health Organisation and CONRAD Project A25165
Sperm suppression and contraceptive protection provided by norethisterone enanthate (Net-En) combined with testosterone undecanoate (TU) in healthy men.

2010-14. Medical Research Foundation; A prospective study of gonadal toxicity and ovarian tissue cryostorage for fertility preservation in young women with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Investigators PWM Johnson, RA Anderson, G Galea, B Mead.

1/04/2010-31/03/2013 MRC project grant G0901839
Activation of human ovarian follicles and derivation of competent oocytes.
With EE Telfer and KJ Thong.

1/05/2011-28/04/2016 MRC Programme grant
Establishment and loss of reproductive lifespan in women.

1/06/2010-31/05/2010 Medical Research Scotland
Fellowship award (Dr AJ Childs).
Establishing reproductive potential: regulation of germ cell development in the human fetal ovary.

1/04/2011-31/03/2016 Medical Research Council Centre grant
Establishment of MRC/University of Edinburgh Centre for Reproductive Health
With PTK Saunders, HOD Critchley, JE Norman.

Key publications

Anderson RA, Rosendahl M, Kelsey TW, Cameron DA. Pretreatment anti-Müllerian hormone predicts for loss of ovarian function after chemotherapy for early breast cancer. Eur J Cancer. 2013;in press.

Hatzirodos N, Bayne RA, Irving-Rodgers HF, Hummitzsch K, Sabatier L, Lee S, Bonner W, Gibson MA, Rainey WE, Carr BR et al.  Linkage of regulators of TGF-{beta} activity in the fetal ovary to polycystic ovary syndrome. FASEB J. 2011;25:2256-65.

Childs, A. J., Kinnell, H. L., Collins, C. S., Hogg, K., Bayne, R. A., Green, S. J., McNeilly, A. S. and Anderson, R. A. (2010) BMP Signalling in the Human Fetal Ovary is Developmentally-regulated and Promotes Primordial Germ Cell Apoptosis. Stem Cells. 28, 1368-1378

Bayne RAL, Eddie SL, Collins CS, Childs AJ, Jabbour HN, Anderson RA (2009) Prostaglandin E2 is a regulator of human germ cells during ovarian development. J Clin Endo Metab 94: 4053-4060.

Coutts SM, Childs AJ, Fulton N, Collins CS, Bayne RAL, McNeilly AS and Anderson RA (2008) Activin signals via SMAD2/3 between germ and somatic cells in the human fetal ovary and regulates kit ligand expression. Dev Biol 314, 189-199.

Staff/group members

  • Rosey Bayne
  • Hazel Kinnell
  • Roseanne Rosario
  • Anne Saunderson

PhD students:

  • Jing He
  • Jiequian Zhou (Lead supervisor Paul de Sousa)
  • Susan Spence
  • Agnes Stefansdottir (Lead supervisor Norah Spears)

Principal collaborators

  • E Telfer
  • N Spears
  • A Medvinsky
  • J Ross
  • P de Sousa
  • D Cameron


Member, WHO Research Group in Methods for the Regulation of Male Fertility (since 1999)
Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Contraception and Reproductive Health Branch, National Institutes for Health, USA 2005-date
Chair, NIH SAC data monitoring and safety committee (2008-date)
Member of RCOG Scientific Advisory Committee 2006-date
Chair, RCOG Scientific Advisory Committee 2009-date
Member Scottish Multicentre Research Ethics Committee 2006-date
Member British Fertility Society Policy and Practice Committee 2006-date
Scottish representative, Reproductive Health and Childbirth Specialty Group, UK Clinical Research Network, National Institute for Health Research 2008-date
Member, Royal College of Surgeons of England Working Party on Cosmetic Surgery (2010-11)
Senior Review Panelist Human Reproduction 2004-date
Editorial Board member, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2009-date
Editorial Board member, The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, 2008-date
Associate Editor, J. Assisted Reproduction and Genetics 2009-date

Referee for scientific journals including Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Endocrinology, International Journal of Andrology, Clinical Endocrinology, Human Reproduction, Molecular Human Reproduction, European Journal of Endocrinology, Reproduction, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, Expert Opinion in Investigational Drugs.

Grant assessment for MRC, Wellcome Trust, NIH, BBSRC, Wellbeing, Chief Scientist’s Office, Scottish Hospitals Endowment Research Trust.
External examiner MMedSci in ART, University of Nottingham, 2009-date

External examiner final BM University of Southampton, 2010-date

(only current things listed here)