Personal profile


My research group investigates fundamental problems in embryo implantation and placental development.  Maternal preparation for pregnancy and the role of the maternal environment as pregnancy begins are important, as are factors in both the embryo and the mother that predispose to failed implantation, miscarriage, preeclampsia, growth restriction and abruption.  Trophoblast cell biology is central in our research. We are also interested in vascularisation of the placenta and the role of stem cells in this process.

 I am Programme CoDirector for the Master of Research in Reproduction and Pregnancy. 

I teach reproductive biology and physiology at undergraduate level both in Life Sciences and Medicine. 

I have a longstanding interest in yoga and teach classes both outside and within the university.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Research interests

My research group investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms of embryo implantation and placental development, and the implications for disease and treatment of infertility and disorders of pregnancy.   The work bridges the clinical disciplines of reproductive medicine, obstetrics and maternal and fetal health.

The group is embedded in the collaborative environment of the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre.  The Centre, with funding from Tommy’s: The baby Charity is using molecular, cellular, systems biology and integrative approaches for investigating aspects of pregnancy disease, including abnormalities in the way the placenta forms, grows, invades the uterine wall and develops a vascular system in early pregnancy to provide for the demands of the growing fetus.  Our research is founded on appreciation of the importance of the very earliest events in pregnancy for later health in the fetus, child and adult.

I am a founder member of the Faculty of 1000, in the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Section of the Diabetes and Endocrinology Faculty:



I currently cosupervise 3 PhD students.  Two esteemed senior colleagues have been awarded advanced research degrees under my supervision.  I welcome enquiries from students wishing to study for a higher research degree in the general areas of pregnancy or infertility.

I codirect the masters programmes in Reproduction and Pregnancy (MRes MFH and MMed Sci (MFH)), and supervise projects for the students:

Undergraduate teaching includes a long tenure as Unit Coordinator for the popular final year Life Sciences course Human Reproductive Biology.    I teach glycobiology to final year life sciences students and reproductive physiology to first year MBChB students.   The laboratory hosts undergraduate students from FLS and FMHS for special study modules, dissertations and/or project placements.

From 2013 I have been on the teaching faculty of the annual placenta postgraduate workshop in Kingston, Ontario:

Social responsibility

I teach yoga to staff and stufents at the university's WellBeing Centre and in the community, including classes for students with exam stress, back pain and other problems. See: and

I am a keen cyclist, user of public transport, recycler and composter.


As a Part II Chemistry undergraduate in Oxford, I became interested in biological chemistry. I moved to Vancouver and as a PhD student with Laurie Hall, developed biophysical approaches to investigating surface topography. Realising that surface glycoconjugates were important in cell-cell communication, I moved to MRC's laboratories at Mill Hill in London to work with Colin Hughes and learn about the biology of cell adhesion. Inspired by the possibility of applying new cell biological concepts to human pathophysiology, I moved to Manchester to a joint appointment between Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Biological Sciences. Most of my reproductive biology is self-taught, though Harold Fox's course on gynaecological pathology was a formative experience; Carolyn Jones, his former student, has been a staunch and resourceful colleague.  Stanley Glasser at Baylor, in whose lab I spent a sabbatical period, was a kind and persuasive mentor.  I acted as senior editor for the monograph The Endometrium (2008), a project first inspired by Stan:

My collaborations

  • Peter Ruane -- Postdoctoral Research Associate, Funded by a grant from Diabees UK with Profs Melissa Westwood, Sue Kimber, Daniel Brison and Jan Brosens (Warwick).
  • Sarah Finn-Sell -- Postdoctoral Research Associate, 'The role of sphingosine 1-phosphate' in trophoblast invasion, funded by MRC with Dr Ed Johnstone, Dr mArk Dilworth and Prof Melissa Mestwood 
  • Ruhul Choudhury -- PhD student cosupervised with Drs Rebecca Jones and Lynda Harris

Outside Manchester, recent and current collaborators include Drs Tom Moore (Cork), Chie-Pein Chen (Taipei), Patrick Case (Bristol), Jan Brosens (Warwick), Sarah Robertson (Adelaide), Alex Umbers (Melbourne), Gendie Lash and Judith Bulmer (Newcastle),  Vicki Abrahams (Yale), XiaoQin Ye (Georgia) and Telma Zorn (Sao Paulo).



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 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Regenerative Medicine Network
  • Digital Futures
  • Lydia Becker Institute
  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute


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