Colin Sibley

Colin Sibley, BSc, PhD (London), DSc (Manchester), FRCOG


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Personal profile


Colin is now retired but retains his links to the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre through his apointment as Emeritus Professor.


Colin Sibley obtained a first class honours degree in Biochemistry and Physiology (1976) and his PhD (1980) from the University of London. He worked for three years with Professor Anthony Firth as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Anatomy at St George's Hospital Medical School in London.

In 1982, Colin became Wellcome Trust Lecturer in Child Health and Physiology at the University of Manchester and the following year was appointed to a substantive University Lectureship. He spent a year on sabbatical in 1989 as a Visiting Scientist in the Department of Pharmacology at Washington University St Louis, working with Professor Irv Boime. He became Senior Lecturer in 1990, Reader in 1994 and was appointed to a personal Chair in 1997.

Colin was Director of the Tommy’s Charity, Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre (MFHRC) in Manchester from 2008-2018. He handed over to Professor Alex Heazell in 2018 and still keeps close contact.

Colin has published over 200 peer reviewed papers, has held many major grants from the Medical Research Council, The Wellcome Trust, Department of Health and other AMRC charities, and has supervised more than 30 successful PhD and MD students.

Colin won a prestigious Harkness Fellowship in 1989 and other international awards include the Ross Laboratories Lectureship of the Perinatal Research Society (USA) in 1997, The Dawes Lectureship of the Fetal and Neonatal Research Society in 2010, the Firkin Oration of the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress (2012) and more than 25 invited plenary lectureships worldwide. He has been an Editor of the international journal Placenta and was elected President of the International Federation of Placenta Associations, the worldwide organisation of placenta researchers, for a four year term of office (2009-12). In 2013 Colin was honoured with a Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists ad eundem.

In 1997, Colin became a Research Division Leader in The Medical School and in 2001 was appointed Research Dean in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Pharmacy, continuing this role as Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences when the Victoria University of Manchester and UMIST merged in 2004, completing his term of office at the end of 2007. From 2009-2015  Colin was Head of the Research and Innovation Division at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  Colin finished his career as Research Director of Manchester Academic Health Science Centre from 2013-2018.. 

Colin was awarded the DSc degree of the University of Manchester in 2013 for his work on nutrient transport by the placenta in relation to fetal growth.

Research interests

Poor growth of the fetus whilst in the womb, fetal growth restriction (FGR), can lead to stillbirth or postnatal death or lifelong handicap. Furthermore, babies that are born small are at much greater risk of cardiovascular disease and of diabetes, as well as of a range of other diseases, in adulthood.

The placenta forms the essential link between mother and baby whilst in the womb and it is now clear that FGR and other pregnancy diseases are caused by an abnormal placenta. However, work is still needed to understand what causes the placenta to be abnormal. Furthermore it is very difficult to diagnose women with a placenta that is beginning to become abnormal and there are no current treatments available other than early delivery. Colin Sibley's research is addressing these questions. He currently has a particular interesting in developing treatments for the dysfunctional placenta and fast tracking them through pre-clinical models into early phase clinical trials.

The wider Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, with long term (over 20 years) underpinning funding from Tommy’s:The baby Charity is investigating several other aspects of pregnancy disease, with a particular focus on preventing stillbirth. 


Postgraduate research
Colin Sibley has successfully supervised around 30 PhD and MD students. 

My collaborations


  • Dr. M. Dilworth
  • Dr S Greenwood
  • Prof. A. Heazell
  • Dr. S. Girard (Montreal)
  • Dr E. Cottrell
  • Dr. L. Harris
  • Dr. M. Desforges

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

  • President, International Federation of Placenta Associations 2009-2012
  • Editor Emeritus, `Placenta'.
  • Society Memberships:  Physiological Society, Society for Gynecologic Investigation, International Federation Placenta Associations.

Methodological knowledge

Wide range of in vivo and in vitro integrative biology methodologies.


BSc 1st class hons. (London) 1976; PhD (London) 1980; DSc (Manchester) 2013.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute


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