Red and blue folicle
A primary (early developing) follicle in the ovary. A single layer of cuboidal granulosa cells (GC) surround the oocyte. Cell membranes of follicle and surrounding stromal cells are labeled with biotin (red). Cell nuclei are labeled by DAPI (blue).

Contact

For more information on this area of research

Professor Stephen Franks
+44 (0)20 7594 2109
s.franks@imperial.ac.uk

Real time confocal imaging of LH-mediated calcium response using the calcium indicator dye Fluo4-AM.

What we do

This area of research involves both clinical and laboratory-based science, aimed at understanding normal ovarian function and ovarian disorders. Collaborative research is the key to making progress in this field. The scientists who contribute to this theme include those involved in studying the biochemistry and physiology of oocyte (egg) development from the earliest stages to ovulation. We study how hormones (the internal environment) and the external environment (for example diet) regulate this process and where and when things go wrong in common hormone disorders of reproduction.

Why it is important

Disorders of ovulation are a common cause not only of infertility and menstrual disturbances but also have an impact on long-term health. Hormones control all aspects of reproduction and it is important to understand the mechanism of disordered hormone production and action in common reproductive disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is not only the commonest hormone disorder in women but is also a metabolic disorder that carries an increased risk of problems during pregnancy and of developing diabetes and uterine cancer in later life. This area of research clearly complements and overlaps with the work of the receptor signalling and cellular imaging groups.

Impact 

We have published important papers on the regulation of follicle development in the normal ovary and in PCOS.  These complement publications on how hormones signal to ovarian cells though specific receptors – and the therapeutic implications of receptor function. Work on PCOS has provided insight into the interaction of genes and environment in its aetiology, leading to improvement in methods for diagnosis and treatment of both reproductive and metabolic consequences.

Summary of current research

Lead researchers

Our researchers