Fetal growth and development

About us

Our research work has an integrative approach to the study of mammalian endocrinology and systems physiology.  It is focused on three main areas:

  1. the development and regulation of hormone systems in the fetus,
  2. the endocrine control of fetal growth, development and maturation, 
  3. the role of hormones in developmental programming of adult physiology.

Key research questions include:

  • How do hormone systems develop before birth, and how are these processes controlled? 
  • What are the mechanisms by which hormones regulate normal development of the fetus?
  • How do hormones interact to prepare the fetus for birth and survival as a neonate?
  • What are the hormonal mechanisms by which the environment before birth influences health in later life?

Immunofluorescent imaging of fetal ovine pancreatic islets treated with thyroid hormone in vitro

Research impact

Metatarsal bone from normal and thyroid-deficient ovine fetuses using micro-computed topography

Our research findings have important implications for the understanding of normal fetal growth and development; the consequences of prematurity, intrauterine growth retardation and fetal endocrine disorders; and the mechanisms underlying the developmental programming of adult (patho)physiology.

We collaborate worldwide with colleagues in basic and clinical science, and publish our findings widely.


Alison Forhead

Dr Alison Forhead

Senior Lecturer in Physiology and Medical Science

View profile