Telephone: 0131-242-6388 [direct], Email: email@example.com
PA: Madeleine Stevenson [0131-242-6240]: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sex steroids including oestrogens and androgens are ‘master regulators’ of the reproductive system and also have an impact on our bones, brain as well as blood vessels and our immune system. Oestrogens and androgens are synthesised by cells within the ovaries and testes as well as those in other tissues e.g. adipose and skin. Local concentrations of steroids are also modulated within target tissues, a feature of human tissues known as ‘intracrinology’ as a result of presence of enzymes such as aromatase (converts testosterone to oestradiol). Steroids classically regulate tissue function by binding to receptors that function as ligand activated transcription factors. There are two oestrogen receptors usually called ERalpha and ERbeta, and a single androgen receptor. The impact of oestrogens and androgens on the function of the different cells types within reproductive tissues is determined by the ‘cocktail’ of available receptors as well as availability of co-factors.
Our studies are directed at understanding the mechanisms responsible for the impact of steroids normal reproductive tissues and disorders associated with reproductive tissue malfunction. A primary interest of the current research effort is directed at determining how oestrogens and androgens regulate the function of the endometrium (the lining of the womb). We have identified cells that co-express ERalpha and ERbeta (epithelium, stromal fibroblasts), cells that express ERß alone (immune and endothelial cells) and cells that are direct targets for the action of androgens (stromal fibroblasts). These studies employ a wide variety of molecular and cellular models, genomic analysis and bioinformatics as well as dynamic live cell imaging. We aim to translate our work for patient benefit by determining how steroids regulate tissue regeneration, angiogenesis (formation of blood vessels) and inflammation during the normal menstrual cycle and how their dis-regulation contributes to endometrial disorders such as endometriosis and cancer.
For a brief video describing the work click on the following link: http://www.nutshell-videos.ed.ac.uk/?s=saunders
Congratulations to Erin Greaves who has had her paper entitled ‘ERβ-dependent effects on uterine endothelial cells are cell-specific and mediated via Sp1′ accepted for publication in Human Reproduction.
Well done to Douglas Gibson for being selected to give oral presentations at International meetings in both Chicago and Orlando during March. Photos show Erin and Fiona presenting their posters at the Society for Gynecological Investigation in Orlando [March 2013].
Current research projects
• The role of androgens in women’s health – fertility and endometriosis
• Impact of oestrogens and androgens on immune cells, the vasculature and reproductive stroma
• Steroids and reproductive regeneration and resilience.
MRC Centre for Reproductive Health 2011-2016. Lead Applicant. £1,086,025 [G1002033]
MRC Programme Grant 2011-2016 Impact of oestrogens and androgens on immune cells, the vasculature and reproductive stroma. £3.3 million
2013-2016 MRC Next Generation Optical Imaging initiative: Integrated multi-dimensional molecular organ imaging. £1.6 million Co-I [PI Pollard].
2010-2015: QMRI Mass Spectometry Facility. Co-Applicants Andrew, Walker, Newby, Webster, Saunders. £739, 245.
2009-2014 QMRI FACS facility core funding. Wellcome Trust. Coapplicants: Anderton, Haslett, Saunders, Gregory, ffrench-Constant. £550,000
2008-2011 Wellcome trust project grant (£334,379) ‘The role of androgens in endometrial proliferation and differentiation’ Critchley and Saunders.
2008- Tommy’s the Baby Charity Research Charity, University of Edinburgh Pregnancy Research Centre Co-applicants: Calder, Hughes, Saunders, Seckl, Walker, Newby, Reynolds, Denison. ~£400k pa.
Selected Recent Publications [H index = 52]
Thiruchelvam U, Dransfield I, Saunders PT, Critchley HO. (2012) The importance of the macrophage within the human endometrium. J Leukoc Biol. 93:217-25.
McInnes KJ, Smith LB, Hunger NI, Saunders PTK, Andrew R, Walker BR. (2012) Adipose-specific deletion of the Androgen Receptor in mice reveals independent effects on visceral fat mass and on glucose homeostasis. Diabetes. 61:1072–1081.
Gibson DA and Saunders PTK. (2012) Oestrogen dependent signalling in reproductive tissues – a role for oestrogen receptors and oestrogen related receptors. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 348(2):361-72. (Review)
Marshall E, Lowrey J, Sheila Macpherson S, Maybin JA, Collins F, Critchley HOD, Saunders PTK. (2011) In silico analysis identifies a novel role for androgens in the regulation of human endometrial apoptosis. J Clin Endo. Metab. 96 (11): E1746-55.
Smith LB and Saunders PTK (2011) The skeleton: the new controller of male fertility? Cell. 144:642-3.
Bombail V, Gibson D, Collins F, MacPherson S, Critchley HOD, Saunders PTK. (2010) A role for the orphan nuclear receptor ERRalpha in endometrial stromal cell decidualization and expression of genes implicated in energy metabolism. J Clin Endo. Metab. 95:E224-8 [Pubmed]
Welsh M, Saunders PTK, Fisken M, Scott HM, Hutchison GR, Smith LB, Sharpe RM. (2008) Identification of a programming window for reproductive tract masculinization and origin of hypospadias and cryptorchidism. J Clin Invest. 118:1479-90.
Dr Erin Greaves (Postdoc MRC funded)
Dr Douglas Gibson (Postdoc MRC funded)
Frances Collins (Lab manager, MRC funded)
Arantza Esnal (Research Support, MRC Funded)
James Martin (Research Support, MRC Funded)
Fiona Cousins (PhD student 2010-2013), MRC Funded
Ioannis Simitsidellis (PhD student 2012-2015) Darwin Fellowship CMVM
Sharon Macpherson (Research Nurse, MRC funded)
Madeleine Stevenson PA (p/t, M, W,Th)
Hilary Critchley, Richard Sharpe, Richard Anderson, Jane Norman (CRH)
Sarah Howie, Adriano Rossi, Chris Gregory (MRC-CIR), Stuart Forbes (MRC-CIR)
Tom Freeman (Roslin)
Prof Thomas D’Hooghe (Leuven, Belgium)
2010- Fellow Society of Biology (FSB)
2012 – Fellow Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci)
Current Positions of Responsibility
Dean of Postgraduate Research (PGR), College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine 2012-
Member MRC Population and Systems Medicine Board (PSMB) 2012-
Society for Endocrinology, Science Committee 2012-
Scientific Advisory Board, UoE Tommy’s Centre for Fetal and Maternal Health 2008-
Ethical Review Panel University of Edinburgh Biological Services 2003-
2009- Board of Reviewing Editors, Biology of Reproduction
2009-2012 Editorial Board Endocrinology
1979- Society for the Study of Fertility (Committee member 1990-1993)
1987- British Society for Endocrinology
1990- British Society for Cell Biology
1993- Society of the Study of Reproduction (USA)
1997- Endocrine Society USA
2009- Society for Gynecological Investigation
Updated 26th April 2013