Research Students

Postgraduate students

Erin McGillick

Erin McGillickPhD Candidate, Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group & Molecular  and Evolutionary Physiology of the Lung Laboratory


With a keen interest in respiratory physiology, medical research has given me the opportunity to ask questions about how a baby’s lung develops. This fascination with lung development is driven by the ambition to make a difference and understand mechanisms contributing to health and disease. Development of the pulmonary surfactant system is a vital process which allows a fetus to adequately make the transition from an aqueous in utero environment to an air breathing environment at birth. My current research is particularly focussed on the implications of adverse intrauterine conditions on the development of the lung, and how this contributes to the risk of respiratory complications at birth.

Interesting papers I’ve read lately (original articles only)

Fetal lung development

  • Flecknoe S, Wallace M, Cock M, Harding R, Hooper S. Changes in alveolar epithelial cell proportions during fetal and postnatal development in sheep. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 2003; 285:L664-L70.
  • McDougall, Annie RA, Stuart B. Hooper, Valerie A. Zahra, Foula Sozo, Camden Y. Lo, Timothy J. Cole, Tim Doran, and Megan J. Wallace. "The oncogene Trop2 regulates fetal lung cell proliferation." American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 301, no. 4 (2011): L478-L489.

Hypoxia signalling and lung development

  • Compernolle V, Brusselmans K, Acker T, et al. Loss of HIF-2alpha and inhibition of VEGF impair fetal lung maturation, whereas treatment with VEGF prevents fatal respiratory distress in premature mice. Nature medicine 2002; 8:702-10.
  • Ito Y, Ahmad A, Kewley E, Mason R. Hypoxia-Inducible Factor Regulates Expression of Surfactant Protein in Alveolar Type II Cells In Vitro. American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology 2011; 45:938.

Oxidative stress/antioxidant regulation of fetal development

  • Kane, Andrew D., Emilio A. Herrera, Emily J. Camm, and Dino A. Giussani. "Vitamin C prevents intrauterine programming of in vivo cardiovascular dysfunction in the rat." Circulation Journal 77, no. 10 (2013): 2604-2611.
  • McEvoy, Cindy T., Diane Schilling, Nakia Clay, Keith Jackson, Mitzi D. Go, Patricia Spitale, Carol Bunten et al. "Vitamin C supplementation for pregnant smoking women and pulmonary function in their newborn infants: a randomized clinical trial." JAMA 311, no. 20 (2014): 2074-2082.
  • Bouch, Sheena, Megan O'Reilly, Richard Harding, and Foula Sozo. "Neonatal exposure to mild hyperoxia causes persistent increases in oxidative stress and immune cells in the lungs of mice without altering lung structure." American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology (2015): ajplung-00359.

Lung Injury and repair

  • Brew, Nadine, Stuart B. Hooper, Valerie Zahra, Megan Wallace, and Richard Harding. "Mechanical ventilation injury and repair in extremely and very preterm lungs." (2013): e63905.
  • Hodges, Ryan J., Graham Jenkin, Stuart B. Hooper, Beth Allison, Rebecca Lim, Hayley Dickinson, Suzie L. Miller, Patricia Vosdoganes, and Euan M. Wallace. "Human amnion epithelial cells reduce ventilation-induced preterm lung injury in fetal sheep." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 206, no. 5 (2012): 448-e8.

Links to my student homepage, researchgate profile, linkdin profile


Mr Andrew Snell

Andrew Snell

PhD Candidate, Early Origins of Adult Health Research

My research is focused on the fetal development of the cardiovascular system during pregnancy, and the adaptations that take place in response to a low oxygen environment.

Interesting papers I’ve read lately (original articles only)

  • Chronic hypoxia stimulates periarterial sympathetic nerve development in chicken embryo. Ruijtenbeek K, le Noble FA, Janssen GM, Kessels CG, Fazzi GE, Blanco CE, De Mey JG.
    Circulation. 2000 Dec 5;102(23):2892-7.
  • Restriction of placental growth results in greater hypotensive response to alpha-adrenergic blockade in fetal sheep during late gestation. Danielson L, McMillen IC, Dyer JL, Morrison JL.
    J Physiol. 2005 Mar 1;563(Pt 2):611-20. Epub 2005 Jan 13.
  • Developmental programming of cardiovascular dysfunction by prenatal hypoxia and oxidative stress.
    Giussani DA, Camm EJ, Niu Y, Richter HG, Blanco CE, Gottschalk R, Blake EZ, Horder KA, Thakor AS, Hansell JA, Kane AD, Wooding FB, Cross CM, Herrera EA. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31017. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031017. Epub 2012 Feb 13.
  • Chronic intrauterine hypoxia interferes with aortic development in the late gestation ovine fetus.
    Thompson JA, Richardson BS, Gagnon R, Regnault TR. J Physiol. 2011 Jul 1;589(Pt 13):3319-32. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.210625. Epub 2011 May 3.

Mitchell Lock

PhD candidate, Early Origins of Adult Health Research

My honours research looked at understanding how maternal overnutrition during late gestation alters the development of the fetal lung, and developing a method for quantifying the numerical density of mature surfactant producing cells in the alveolar epithelium. I am now doing my PhD, looking at how microRNA orchestrates the proliferation of cardiomyocytes during pregnancy. Understanding this process may allow us to increase proliferation and cardiomyocyte endowment at birth leading to the development of an intervention to improve cardiac health after injury and provide insight into ways to promote proliferation in the adult heart.

  Mitchell Lock

Interesting papers I’ve read lately (original articles only)

Fetal Lung Development and Overnutrition

Heart Regeneration and microRNA Regulation

Jack Darby

Jack Darby

PhD Candidate, Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group

Low birth weight predisposes adult offspring to an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The molecular mechanisms behind this predisposition to cardiovascular disease in those of us, who were born small, are yet to be fully elucidated. I am interested in understanding how the developing heart adapts to an adverse in utero environment as well as how this may impact cardiac outcomes in adult life.

Interesting papers I’ve read lately (original articles only)

  • Morrison JL, Botting KJ, Dyer JL, Williams SJ, Thornburg KL, McMillen IC. Restriction of placental function alters heart development in the sheep fetus. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007;293(1):R306-13.
  • O'Tierney PF, Chattergoon NN, Louey S, Giraud GD, Thornburg KL.  J Physiol. Atrial natriuretic peptide inhibits angiotensin II-stimulated proliferation in fetal cardiomyocytes. 2010 Aug 1;588(Pt 15):2879-89. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.191098. Epub 2010 Jun 2.
  • Botting KJ, McMillen IC, Forbes H, Nyengaard JR, Morrison JL. Chronic hypoxemia in late gestation decreases cardiomyocyte number but does not change expression of hypoxia-responsive genes. J Am Heart Assoc. 2014;3(4):pii: e000531.
  • Jane L. Tarry-Adkins, Heather L. Blackmore, Malgorzata S. Martin-Gronert, Denise S. Fernandez-Twinn, Josie M. McConnell, Iain P. Hargreaves, Dino A. Giussani, and Susan E. Ozanne. Coenzyme Q10 prevents accelerated cardiac aging in a rat model of poor maternal nutrition and accelerated postnatal growth. Mol Metab. 2013 Nov
  • Wang KC, Tosh DN, Zhang S, McMillen IC, Duffield JA, Brooks DA, and Morrison JL. IGF-2R-Galphaq signaling and cardiac hypertrophy in the low-birth-weight lamb. American journal of physiology Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology 308: R627-635, 2015.
  • Sarr O, Blake A, Thompson JA, Zhao L, Rabicki K, Walsh JC, Welch I, Regnault TR The differential effects of low birth weight and Western diet consumption upon early life hepatic fibrosis development in guinea pig. J Physiol. 2016
  • Thompson JA, Sarr O, Piorkowska K, Gros R, Regnault TR Low birth weight followed by postnatal over-nutrition in the guinea pig exposes a predominant player in the development of vascular dysfunction. J Physiol. 2014

Links to my: linkdin profile and student homepage

Jia Yin Soo

PhD Candidate, Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group

There is evidence showing that intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) negatively impacts growth and maturation of lung development in fetal life and decreases functional capacity. My honours research was aimed at understanding the impact of intrauterine growth restriction on inflammatory cytokine expression in fetal life or during the early neonatal period and whether the delay in surfactant maturation in the smaller fetus is maintained into postnatal life.

My current PhD research is centred on the interaction between fetal growth and fetal drug exposure and the effect of fetal drug exposure on fetal growth. During pregnancy, drugs are often required to treat illness in order to obtain the best outcomes for both mother and fetus. However, a large proportion of drugs used in pregnancies have limited information on the short- and long-term adverse effects on the fetus.

  Jia Yin Soo

Interesting papers I’ve read lately (original articles only)

Fetal Lung Development

  • Alcazar MAA, Östreicher I, Appel S, Rother E, Vohlen C, Plank C & Dötsch J. (2011). Developmental regulation of inflammatory cytokine-mediated Stat3 signaling: the missing link between intrauterine growth restriction and pulmonary dysfunction? Journal of Molecular Medicine, 1-13.
  • Joyce BJ, Louey S, Davey MG, Cock ML, Hooper SB & Harding R. (2001). Compromised respiratory function in postnatal lambs after placental insufficiency and intrauterine growth restriction. Pediatric research 50, 641-649.
  • Orgeig S, McGillick EV, Botting KJ, Zhang S, McMillen IC & Morrison JL. (2015). Increased lung prolyl hydroxylase and decreased glucocorticoid receptor are related to decreased surfactant protein in the growth restricted sheep fetus. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, ajplung. 00275.02014.
  • Wang Y, Santos J, Sakurai R, Shin E, Cerny L, Torday JS & Rehan VK. (2009). Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Agonists Enhance Lung Maturation in a Neonatal Rat Model. Pediatric research 65, 150-155.

Oral antihyperglycaemic and pregnancy

  • Rowan JA, Hague WM, Gao W, Battin MR & Moore MP. (2008). Metformin versus insulin for the treatment of gestational diabetes. New England Journal of Medicine 358, 2003-2015.
  • Moretti ME, Rezvani M & Koren G. (2008). Safety of glyburide for gestational diabetes: a meta-analysis of pregnancy outcomes. Annals of Pharmacotherapy 42, 483-490.

Drug metabolising enzymes and drug transporters

  • Hines RN. (2007). Ontogeny of human hepatic cytochromes P450. Journal of biochemical and molecular toxicology 21, 169-175.
  • Ghose R, Omoluabi O, Gandhi A, Shah P, Strohacker K, Carpenter KC, McFarlin B & Guo T. (2011). Role of high-fat diet in regulation of gene expression of drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters. Life sciences 89, 57-64.
  • Soo PS, Hiscock J, Botting KJ, Roberts CT, Davey AK & Morrison JL. (2012). Maternal undernutrition reduces P-glycoprotein in guinea pig placenta and developing brain in late gestation. Reproductive Toxicology 33, 374-381. 
  • Soo PS, Hiscock J, Botting KJ, Roberts CT, Davey AK & Morrison JL. (2012). Maternal undernutrition reduces P-glycoprotein in guinea pig placenta and developing brain in late gestation. Reproductive Toxicology 33, 374-381.

Honours Students

Alysha Anderson

Alysha Anderson

Fifth year Double Degree Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science with Honours student

I’m interested in the intrauterine growth restricted fetus in relation to maternal nutrient restriction and exposure to chronic hypoxic conditions and how this impacts lung development and the surfactant system.

Interesting papers I’ve read lately (original articles only)

  • HIF1a is essential for normal intrauterine differentiation of alveolar epithelium and surfactant production in the newborn lung of mice. Yogesh Saini, Jack R. Harkema and John J. Journal of biological Chemistry, 2008 November 28, Vol 283, No 48, pg 33650-33657
  • Acute and chronic hypoxic pulmonary hypertension in guinea pigs. THOMPSON, B. T., P. M. HASSOUN, R. L. KRADIN, AND C.A. HALES. Journal of Applied Physiology, February 1989, Vol 66, No 2, pg 920-928
  • Regulation of fetal lung development in response to maternal overnutrition. M, Lock et al, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, November 2013, Vol 40, No 11, pg 803-816
  • Intrauterine growth restriction delays surfactant protein maturation in the sheep fetus. Orgeig, S., et al., American journal of physiology, Lung cellular and molecular physiology, 2010, Vol 298, No 4, p. 575-583.                                      

Areas of study and research

+ Click to minimise