The Endocrine System
Humans have two adrenal glands found at the top of each kidney. Each adrenal gland is composed of two morphologically and functionally distinct regions: the outer region called the adrenal cortex and the inner adrenal medulla. Adrenal glands produce hormones from these specialised regions that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions. Despite regulating some of the body’s key systems, how the adrenal regulates its zones and how adrenal specific diseases arise, are still a major unknown. The smith group aims to dissect the mechanisms involved in adrenal regulation and disease development.
The adult testis can be thought of as a factory, it produces two main products;
In males, androgens (like testosterone) play a significant role in male development and in adult reproductive function and general health. Reduction in androgen production during key stages of development results in incomplete physical masculinisation which can have life-long impacts. Disruption of androgen action and production in adulthood can lead to infertility and has been linked to other chronic conditions. The Smith Lab is working toward understanding how these processes are regulated and develop new mechanisms to support fertility, lifelong health, and wellbeing in males.
The development of functional sperm from stem cells within the testis is a complex process. The genes responsible for controlling the process remain largely uncharacterised. The Smith Lab is using mouse models of male infertility to identify these genes that are essential for sperm production. Through this process, we are developing an understanding of the underlying genetic networks and process to testis function. The knowledge gained from these studies will have a two-pronged application to developing male infertility treatments as well as non-hormonal male contraceptives.
To complement our research in endocrinology, The Smith Lab has strong interests in the development of novel technologies particularly within the fields of nano-technology, viral vector delivery, transgenic mouse model generation and, most recently, 3D bio-printing technologies. We are utilising cutting edge omics analysis alongside bioinformatics and biological computational modeling to provide us with an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms and genetics underpinning endocrine regulation and endocrine related disorders.