Having begun my career at what was then Napier College of Commerce and Technology, then became Napier Polytechnic, I graduated in 1991 with an honours degree in Biological Sciences. This fostered an interest/obsession in the research field of reproduction, which I was fortunate to be able to pursue in the University of Edinburgh medical School, leading to the award of PhD in 1995. I then spent two years in the University of Kent working on projects examining novel cancer imaging techniques, which hugely boosted my laboratory skills, prior to returning to the field of reproductive sciences in 1997 at what is now the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. I returned to the University of Edinburgh in 2001, and remained there, working on ovarian function and cancer, until my initial appointment as a lecturer in Edinburgh Napier University. Becoming Reader in Reproductive Biology in 2012, I have continued to pursue my reproductive research interests, focusing upon the influence the prenatal environment has upon lifelong health – we are living longer, and ‘healthspan’ has to keep pace with lifespan if we are to maximise our quality of life, hence ensuring that we begin our lives with the best possible health opportunities for life is something I am very keen to contribute to.
In my spare time, I attempt to keep a classic car on the road, and enjoy fishing for wild brown trout all over Scotland.
The wide abuse of the anabolic steroid nandrolone decanoate by athletes and adolescents for enhancement of sporting performance and physical appearance may be associated with testicular toxicity and infertility. On the other hand, taurine; a free ?-amino acid with remarkable antioxidant activity, is used in taurine-enriched beverages to boost the muscular power of athletes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of the possible protective effects of taurine on nandrolone decanoate-induced testicular and sperm toxicity in rats. To achieve this aim, male Wistar rats were randomly distributed into four groups and administered either vehicle, nandrolone decanoate (10mg/kg/week, .), taurine (100mg/kg/day, .) or combination of taurine and nandrolone decanoate, for 8 successive weeks. Results of the present study showed that taurine reversed nandrolone decanoate-induced perturbations in sperm characteristics, normalized serum testosterone level, and restored the activities of the key steroidogenic enzymes; 3?-HSD, and 17?-HSD. Moreover, taurine prevented nandrolone decanoate-induced testicular toxicity and DNA damage by virtue of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic effects. This was evidenced by taurine-induced modulation of testicular LDH-x activity, redox markers (MDA, NO, GSH contents, and SOD activity), inflammatory indices (TNF-?, ICAM-1 levels, and MMP-9 gene expression), intrinsic apoptotic pathway (cytochrome c gene expression and caspase-3 content), and oxidative DNA damage markers (8-OHdG level and comet assay). In conclusion, at the biochemical and histological levels, taurine attenuated nandrolone decanoate-induced poor sperm quality and testicular toxicity in rats.