Personal profile

Research interests

My main interests are to understand:

(i) how fetal growth is regulated such that a body of correct size and proportions is attained

(ii) how altered fetal growth can influence health in later life, including predisposition to cancer, obesity and diabetes.

These are big questions, relevant to important medical problems. Our approach has been to focus on a small group of genes regulated by genomic imprinting. Imprinted genes behave unusually in that they are expressed predominantly, if not exclusively, from only one of their two parental copies. Although only about 100 imprinted genes are known, a large proportion of them regulate fetal growth and/or adult physiology, with others influencing brain function and behaviour.

The Grb10 gene is expressed from the maternally-inherited copy in most fetal tissues outside of the central nervous system and we have shown that it acts to inhibit growth of both the embryo and placenta. In adult life the maternally-inherited Grb10 allele regulates insulin receptor signalling and body fat deposition and can, therefore, directly influence energy homeostasis. Recently, we found that in the brain Grb10 is expressed mainly from the paternal allele and we have discovered that this brain expression is linked with the control of social dominance behaviour. By gaining a deeper understanding of the different functions of Grb10 we aim to understand why this and other imprinted genes have evolved.

Current lab members

  • Xiao Hu
  • Kim Moorwood
  • Sasi Saminathan 

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

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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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