I have two main strands to my bench research both focus on the role of hormones, systemic and local, in health and disease. Below the waistline my work centres upon investigation of the role of local hormones in diseases and conditions associated with the female reproductive tract such as dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis and the detection and prevention of preterm labour. In addition to looking for new and effective therapies to manage these conditions I am also involved with research into developing novel local drug delivery devices that will enable the safer use of medicines.
As a pharmacologist specialising in reproductive endocrinology I have frequently been involved in investigating the effects of new drugs on tissues of the human female reproductive tract. Frequently these new compounds have not been intended for use in managing women's health problems but they may carry 'reproductive risk'. The human uterus is unique in the way it reacts to many compounds as it could be described receptor rich and it can be difficult to predict how it will respond overall to a stimulus. This makes it an interesting organ to study but it does mean that drugs that may be given to treat something medically unrelated may cause an unwanted reaction in the uterus. A good example can be taken from the work that my group did in the late 1990s when we evaluated a new drug designed to lower intraocular pressure in the treatment of glaucoma. We found that the human uterus behaved differently by not responding and so the compound would be safe to use in women. However, this lack of effect also provided evidence to support the theory that a new class of receptors may exist, the prostamide receptors.
Whilst above the neck I am interested in the effect that the sex steroids have on cognition, for example during pregnancy or when an individual is suffering from a mental illness such as schizophrenia.
In the pharmacy practice context I am also involved in projects looking at medicines reconciliation, adherence and medicines management in chronic diseases in the UK and overseas.