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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



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Dino A Giussani
Professor Giussani graduated with a BSc (Hons) Physiology at Royal Holloway of the University of London and Doctor of Philosophy at University College London under the mentorship of Professor Mark Hanson.  He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Universidad de Chile with Professor Anibal Llanos and at Cornell University with Professor Peter Nathanielsz, before taking up a tenured Lectureship at the University of Cambridge in 1996, where he has been since.  He was promoted to Reader in 2004 and to Professor in 2011. He also holds a Professorial Fellowship at Gonville & Caius College in Cambridge, where he is Director of Studies in Medicine.  Professor Giussani directs a research team currently interested in the role of alterations in fetal oxygenation and oxidative stress in the development of cardiovascular function and in programming cardiovascular disease.

Emilio A Herrera


Dr. Herrera graduated from Universidad Austral de Chile as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) with highest distinctions (1999). His undergraduate thesis focused on the fetal response to hypoxia in Llamas, a high-altitude mammal. During his first years as DVM, he was appointed as the Head of Large Animal Care for the Faculty of Medicine (Campus Oriente) at the Universidad de Chile. He completed his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the Universidad de Chile in 2007 with supervision from Professor Anibal J. Llanos. Dr. Herrera’s graduate thesis examined the role of nitric oxide in neonatal pulmonary hypertension at high altitudes, using sheep as the investigatory animal model.In 2007, he began a Post-Doctoral position at the University of Cambridge with Professor Dino A. Giussani. Dr. Herrera was in charge of in vivo and ex vivo studies on animal models of hypoxia and oxidative stress during fetal development. He returned to Universidad de Chile in 2011 as Assistant Professor, where he founded the Laboratory of Vascular Function and Reactivity. Dr. Herrera was able to develop several lines of research and experimental models to better study pathologies associated with cardiac and vascular dysfunctions such as neonatal pulmonary hypertension, systematic hypertension, IUGR and placental insufficiency among others. In addition, Dr. Herrera is the President of the Bioethical Committee for Use of Research Animals, Faculty of Medicine; and the Postgraduate Director for the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBM), Universidad de Chile.

Tim Regnault

Tim Regnault received his undergraduate degree in Rural Science (Hons) from the University England in Armidale, Australia. Following graduation, he undertook positions as a District agronomist and then a District livestock officer at Goodwindi and Hay, Australia respectively. He completed his PhD studies through a CSIRO/University of Western Sydney scholarship at CSIRO Prospect, studying the role of litter size and pregnancy nutrition upon placental lactogen. He then moved to Denver, Colorado in 1996 to undertake postdoctoral training, and subsequent faculty positions, under the mentorship of Drs. Battaglia, Meschia, Wilkening and Anthony.  During his time in Denver, his investigations focused on areas such as placental angiogenesis, fetal hypertension, placental and fetal oxygenation and placental nutrient transport, in the IUGR sheep model. In 2005 he moved London, Ontario in Canada, to join the Perinatal Research group there led by Drs. Richardson, Gagnon and Han. While continuing aspects of sheep work with a focus on cardiovascular perturbations in IUGR, he commenced abnormal pregnancy (IUGR/LBW, deficient nutrient supply and excess energy supply) and postnatal dietary interactive outcome studies using guinea pig, rat and rabbit, cell culture systems and imaging techniques (CT/PET/MRI, hyperpolarized MRI). The laboratories current focuses are detecting early abnormal placental failure in vivo and on understanding the in-utero origins and postnatal dietary interactions resulting in the development of insulin resistance (in multiple tissues), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), altered neurodevelopment and other early markers of later life metabolic disease.

Laura Bennet
New Zealand


Professor Laura Bennet is co-director of the Fetal Physiology and Neuroscience Group in the department of Physiology, at the University of Auckland. She is a fetal systems physiologist with a specialist interest in the preterm fetal cardiovascular and neurophysiological adaptations to asphyxia and infection, and the development of neuroprotection strategies. Her current work encompasses many strands. She is evaluating stem-cells as a treatment for preterm brain injury and for promoting neural plasticity after injury. She has pre-clinical and clinical trials underway on assessment of EEG waveforms as a biomarker for predicting injury processes in the preterm infant. She also is developing new research on determining how patterns of preterm brain injury may be modified after fetal exposure to combined insults and standard clinical treatments, such as antenatal glucocorticoids and magnesium sulphate, and how modification of autonomic function may alter beneficially and detrimentally patterns of injury.

Jan Derks


Dr Jan Derks did his medical degree in 1991 at the University of Groningen, and his PhD in 1996 at the University of Utrecht (Prof. Dr. G.H. Visser) in collaboration with Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (Prof. Dr. P.W. Nathanielsz) on the subject of antenatal glucocorticoid administration. After his residencies in OB/GYN, he has been working since 2001 as a consultant in perinatology at the department of Perinatal Medicine at the University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands. He is also the chairman of the division of fetal-maternal medicine of the Dutch College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. His main scientific interest is in antenatal neuroprotection and antenatal glucocorticoid administration. The translational research is in close collaboration with the University of Cambridge (Prof. Dr. D.A. Giussani).

Robert Galinsky
In-training rep.
Rob graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Anatomy and Physiology and PhD at Monash University, Australia. Rob’s graduate and PhD training was under the mentorship of A/Prof Tim Moss, Dr Graeme Polglase, Prof Stuart Hooper and A/Prof Jane Black. He is currently an NHMRC CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellow, training under the mentorship of Prof Alistair Gunn and Prof Laura Bennet in the Department of Physiology at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. Rob’s research interests are into the effects of inflammation and oxygen deprivation during pregnancy on the perinatal cardiovascular system and brain growth and development.

Suzie Miller


Suzie leads the Neurodevelopment and Neuroprotection Group at The Ritchie Centre, Monash University in Melbourne. After completing her BSc (Hons) at Monash, Suzie carried out a PhD under the supervision of Profs David Walker and Graham Jenkin, investigating blood flow regulation to the uterus. Suzie then undertook postdoctoral training at University College London with Prof Donald Peebles, studying the effects of antenatal compromise on fetal brain development. She returned to The Department of Physiology, Monash University in 2001, and in 2010 was recruited as a Group Leader to The Ritchie Centre. Her group incorporates experimental and clinical studies focused on understanding, and inhibiting, the mechanisms that contribute to perinatal brain injury. Suzie is also an advocate for the role of women in science, and a founding member of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia’s Women in Health Science Committee.

Tim Moss
Prof Moss graduated with a BSc (Hons) Physiology and PhD at Monash University under the supervision of Professors Richard Harding and David Walker. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Western Australia with Professor John Newnham, where he worked with Professors Alan Jobe, Mark Hanson and John Challis. He was the highest ranked recipient of the NHMRC RD Wright Biomedical Career Development Fellowship in 2003 and was appointed as an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow in 2013. Associate Professor Moss joined the Ritchie Centre in 2010, where he currently leads a research team focussed on understanding the effects of antenatal inflammation on development, and is Theme Leader of Fetal and Neonatal Respiratory and Cardiovascular Health Research.

Jan Nijhuis


Professor Nijhuis received his PhD in 1984, based on his work on fetal behaviour. He became an obstetrician in 1987, but worked also with Professors Hanson and Dawes in Reading, UK from 1978 to 1988. He is an honorary member of the Academic Staff of the University of Reading UK.  In 1993 he received the ”De Snoo van ’t Hoogerhuijs” award for perinatal research. In 2008 he was announced as “top-specialist in Ob/Gyn” in the Netherlands, based on a national enquiry among Dutch specialists.  In 1999 he was appointed as Professor in Obstetrics at the Maastricht University Medical Center, and became Head of the Department for Ob/Gyn. Since 2008 he has also served as the Director of the Centre for Genetics, Reproduction and Child Health, Intensive Care and Cancer with a total operating budget of 50 million Euro and 750 employees (600 FTE).  From 2003 he was President-elect, and from 2005-2007 President of the Dutch Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (NVOG). He is a member of the Dutch Health Council, the Dutch “Perinatal Audit” committee and he is the representative for The Netherlands in the “Euro-Peristat-working group” on perinatal mortality in the EU.

Donald Peebles


Professor Donald Peebles obtained a BA in the History of Art from Cambridge University in 1983 and his MBBS from the University of London in 1986. During his early career he worked with Professor Mark Hanson at UCL, establishing his continuing interest in fetal physiology. He was appointed Chair and Head of the Research Department of Obstetrics at UCL in 2008. He has a number of research interests that focus on improving the outcomes for women and their babies following complicated pregnancies. Particular research areas include: 1) maternal innate immunity, infection, inflammation and preterm labour 2) the role of hypoxia and inflammation in causation of perinatal brain injury 3) fetal physiology (especially fetal responses to acute and chronic substrate deprivation) and 4) the development of novel molecular and cellular methods for treatment of fetal disease. In parallel with his research activities he is also a sub-specialty accredited Consultant in Maternal Fetal medicine at UCLH with a particular interest in the management of pregnancy complicated by maternal disease or poor obstetric history and fetal medicine, including fetal therapy, prenatal diagnosis and management of fetal growth restriction.

Alessandro Rolfo

Alessandro Rolfo graduated as Doctor in Medical Biotechnology (2001) and PhD in Clinical Sciences and Human Reproduction (2005) at the University of Turin (Italy) under the supervision of Professor Tullia Todros. From 2006 to 2009, Prof. Rolfo was Post Doctoral Fellow at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto (ON, Canada), under the mentorship of Professor Isabella Caniggia. During his fellowship, he focused on the molecular mechanisms of oxygen sensing and cell cycle regulation in human placental pathologies, with particular interest in Preeclampsia and Fetal Growth Restriction. In 2009, Prof. Rolfo moved back to Italy, at the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynaecology – University of Turin, as winner of a grant from the University of Turin aimed at recalling the best Italian scientists working abroad. Thus, he started his own line of investigation on the role of placental mesenchymal stem cells in patho-physiological human placental development. In 2014, he was appointed as Assistant Professor in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Dept. Of Surgical Sciences of the University of Turin (Italy) and became Scientific Director of the Gynaecology & Obstetrics 2U Research Lab at the S. Anna University Hospital in Turin. In 2015, he was promoted to Associate Professor in Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Associate Professor in Applied Medical Technologies by the Italian Ministry of University and Research. Since 2015, Prof. Rolfo is the Director of the Master in Fetal and Maternal Medicine, University of Turin. His current main investigation interests are Fetal-maternal medicine, human placenta patho-physiological development, Placental Mesenchymal Stem Cells role in placentation and in Fetal Central Nervous System development.

Janna Morrison
Professor Janna Morrison is Head of the Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group in the Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of South Australia and a Fellow of the Cardiovascular Section of the American Physiological Society. She received her PhD from the University of British Columbia in 2001. Her current research focusses on how the fetal cardiovascular system responds to changes in nutrient supply during pregnancy. She was recently awarded a Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant with colleagues from Sick Kids Hospital in Canada to use MRI to study blood flow and its relationship with cardiac development in the growth restricted fetus. She is currently an ARC Future Fellow (2018-21). She is Reviewing Editor for the Journal of Physiology, Editor of Themed Issues for the Journal of the Developmental Origins of Adult Health and an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative.

Charles Wood


Dr. Wood received his A.B. degree in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1974, and his Ph.D. degree in Endocrinology from the University of California, San Francisco in 1980.  After completion of his Ph.D. degree, he did a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Abraham Rudolph in the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UCSF.  In 1983, he started as an Assistant Professor of Physiology at the University of Florida.  He rose through the ranks and, in 1993 was promoted to the rank of Professor.  In 2002, he was named Chair of the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics at the University of Florida.  Research in this department focuses mainly on cardiovascular, neural, and renal mechanisms of hypertension, and is currently among the top quintile of departments of Physiology with regard to total NIH funding.  Dr. Wood’s research focuses on fetal endocrine and cardiovascular development and function in the late-gestation fetus, and has accounted for improvements in our understanding of endocrine mechanisms of parturition and of blood pressure and blood gas control of blood pressure and endocrine function.  Dr. Wood has been an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association, and he has served as Chair of the Pregnancy and Neonatology study section at NIH.

Tomoaki Ikeda
Professor Ikeda graduated with an MD from Miyazaki Medical College at 1983, entered a 5-year residency at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Osaka University. He took on a Lecturer positon at Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Miyazaki Medical College at 1987, starting research on maternal and fetal medicine under Professor Tsuyomu Ikenoue. He studied fetal physiology using sheep fetus at University of California, Irvine with Professor Yuji Murata from 1994 to 1996. He became the Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2005 and Director of Regenerative Medicine in 2009 at National Cardiovascular Center in Osaka. In 2010, he was promoted to Professor and Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mie University where he has been since. He established Maternal Death Review Committee in Japan in 2001. His interest is fetal physiology, fetal heart rate monitoring and fetal brain damage.
Carina Mallard
Professor Mallard graduated with a BSc in Physiology at the University of Lund, Sweden and Doctor of Philosophy at University of Auckland, New Zealand under the mentorship of Professor Peter Gluckman. She was then a SIDS Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne with Professor Sandra Rees. In 1999 she received a Swedish Research Council Associate Professorship Award at University of Gothenburg in Sweden, where she has been since. She was promoted to Full Professor in 2006 and is also a Visiting Professor at Kings College London. Professor Mallard directs a research team investigating the role of inflammation and potential neuroprotective strategies in perinatal brain injury.
Luc Zimmerman


Professor Luc J.I. Zimmermann was born in 1959 in Belgium. He graduated as MD in 1984 and did his residency in Pediatrics at the same University in Leuven, Belgium (1984-1989).
He trained as a Fellow in Neonatology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada from 1989 to 1992. From 1992 to 2003 he was a staff Neonatologist at the Erasmus Medical Center – Sophia in Rotterdam, where he was Chief of the Division of Neonatology a.i. from 2000 to 2003. His PhD thesis (in 1995) was titled "Regulation of CTP:phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase in fetal type II cells". In 2003 he became a staff neonatologist at the Academic Hospital Maastricht, in 2004 Professor in Pediatrics and in 2005 Chief of the Division of Neonatology. In 2006 he became Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and Division Leader of Developmental Biology in the research school “Oncology and Developmental Biology-GROW”. His main research interest is in neonatal lung development, surfactant, respiratory distress syndrome and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Since 2012 he is President of the European Society for Paediatric Research.