Dr Alison Forhead

Senior Lecturer in Physiology and Medical Science

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Alison Forhead

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

Module leader in:

  • Human Structure and Function

Co-teacher in:

  • Scientific Skills
  • Professional and Experimental Skills
  • Research Methods
  • Integrated Physiology
  • Project


My research interests are in mammalian endocrinology and the endocrine regulation of physiology and development in the fetus. Currently, my research work is focussed on two main areas: 

Development and regulation of endocrine systems in the fetus
These studies have examined the bioavailability of hormones in the fetus, in particular, the glucocorticoids, thyroid hormones, leptin, insulin-like growth factors and the renin-angiotensin system.  Our analyses of hormone systems in utero have included measurements of circulating concentrations, tissue metabolism and metabolic enzymes, cellular uptake mechanisms and receptor expression.  These studies have demonstrated complex interactions between endocrine systems before birth and have elucidated a variety of cellular and molecular mechanisms of developmental control.
Endocrine control of fetal growth, development and maturation
My research has also investigated the role of hormones in the regulation of normal fetal development.  These studies have an integrative approach to systems animal biology by examining a wide variety of fetal tissues and organs, and aspects of fetal physiology, including growth, cardiovascular and renal function, nutrition and metabolism.  In particular, several of these studies have established the importance of endocrine signals in fetal maturation near to delivery and in the successful transition from the intrauterine to extrauterine environment at birth.  We have investigated the mechanisms of glucocorticoid action in several physiological systems, and demonstrated the important roles of other hormones, such as thyroid hormones and angiotensin II, in mediating many of the maturational effects of glucocorticoids.
Overall, my research has an integrative approach to the study of mammalian endocrinology and systems animal physiology.  The research findings have important implications for the understanding of normal fetal growth and development, the consequences of prematurity and fetal endocrine disorders, and the mechanisms underlying the intrauterine programming of adult (patho)physiology.

Research grants and awards

Main sources of funding: BBSRC, Isaac Newton Trust, The Royal Society



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