1. Male reproductive health and Endocrine disrupting chemicals
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the function of the endocrine system. Disruption of the hormone system can occur through chemicals that mimic a natural hormone, disrupting the normal function of the natural hormones. This can result in developmental abnormalities of the fetus and impairment of the reproductive capabilities at all stages of life. These chemicals are widely used in industry and therefore represent diverse sources of pollution and human exposure. Current research focuses on the disruption of the estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormones. Endocrine activity in various environmental matrices (e.g. water) can be assessed using a relevant battery of screening bioassays. Toxicological studies can be used to assess the effects on male reproductive health.
2. Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is on the increase as the average age of the world population increases. What causes prostate cancer is poorly understood and the only known risk factors include an increased age, family history of prostate cancer and an African-American ethnic background. The aim of this study is to identify genetic variants associated with increased prostate cancer risk, to be used as markers for population-based genetic screening and early diagnosis. The project is funded by the MRC and the international collaborator is Dr Vanessa M. Hayes, Project Leader Cancer Genetics, Cancer Research Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia. The project will form part of a larger collaborative multi-disciplinary (geneticists, epidemiologists, urologists, statisticians) and international (South Africa, Australia and United States) project aimed at identifying genetic markers of prostate cancer predisposition.