Darryl Russell

Professor Darryl Russell

Professor

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


1. Revealing the molecular mechanism of controlled tissue morphogenesis in ovaries, and understand how the changing ovarian environment promotes oocyte quality leading to diagnostic and therapeutic means to enhance the health of women and their babies in natural fertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology settings

2. Generating a full understanding of the mechanism of ovulation of matured oocytes and discover molecular targets and new drugs that block ovulation leading to improved, safer and acute acting contraceptives.

3. Understanding development and progression of cancers of reproductive organs

My research group focuses broadly on intercellular communication, cell-matrix interactions and resulting cell signalling and morphogenesis both in normal function and cancer of the reproductive organs.

Our primary focus is on the cyclic remodelling of the ovary during folliculogenesis, atresia, ovulation and luteinisation. Together these processes determine reproductive success and the health the oocyte and hence a healthy start to life.

Australia has one of the highest rates of dependence on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) internationally, resulting in over 4,000 births (~3%) annually. Gamete insufficiency is the main cause of infertility and determinant of embryo health and subsequent ART success.  Infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are both extremely common in the Australian population and both associate with dysregulated ovarian tissue remodelling. Infertility treatment carries serious risks for women due to hormone stimulations, surgical procedures and multiple pregnancies. All the above may be prevented through our work, by understanding the mechanisms of ovarian function and dysfunction and perfecting therapies to address these directly.

Additionally, contraception is among the most important medical drivers of health and economic development through advancing women’s health and opportunities for education and employment through family planning.  Existing contraceptive technologies are not suitable in many circumstances, meaning that nearly a quarter billion women live with unmet need for contraception.  Our research applies functional genomics and drug screening approaches to identify new molecular targets and drugs that can directly block ovulation.  The ultimate goal is to improve accessibility, convenience of use and risk of side effects so that women who need it most have access to effective family planning.

Our Aims :
1. To reveal the molecular mechanism of controlled tissue morphogenesis in ovaries, and understand how the changing ovarian environment promotes oocyte quality leading to diagnostic and therapeutic means to enhance the health of women and their babies in natural fertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology settings

2. To generate a full understanding of the mechanism of ovulation of matured oocytes and discover molecular targets and new drugs that b,ock ovulation leading to improved, safer and acute acting contraceptives.

Specific Research Projects are Addressing:

· Identifying biomarkers of oocyte developmental competence

· Molecular mechanisms of ovulation

· Discovery of molecular targets and drug candidates for blocking ovulation leading to development of improved contraception.

3. Understanding development and progression of cancers of reproductive organs

Extracellular matrix remodelling and tissue morphogenesis also cause metastases of reproductive organ cancers. Cancer of the breast, prostate, ovary and female reproductive tract account for more than 40% of all cancers in the Australian population (Cancer in Australia: an overview 2006. AIHW Publications 2006;37:144). One in eight Australian women will develop breast cancer and one in 9 men will develop prostate cancer. Each year 3000 women die from breast cancer, and a similar number of men die from prostate cancer, Cancer that progresses to metastatic stage in breast, ovary, prostate or reproductive tracts are often incurable and thus my work also focuses on understanding how cancers become metastatic and how this can be prevented to improve ageing productively.

Our research seeks to understand the biological basis underlying the cause and mechanism of progression to metastatic disease. The changes that arise in malignant tissue to endow their capacity to degrade local extracellular matrix barriers and invade local blood and/or lymphatic vessels for transport to distal sites is under investigation. We aim to develop tests to identify the risk of metastatic disease as well as antimetastatic therapies that specifically target the capacity of tumor cells to invade local tissues, to migrate and to populate new tissues.

Specific research projects are addressing:

· The interaction of tumor cells with local non-malignant stromal tissues
· Proteases of the Adamts family that facilitate degradation of peritumoral ECM
· Tumor mediated angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis

Research Funding:
NHMRC Project Grants and Fellowships
ARC Discovery Grants and Fellowship
Prostate Cancer Foundation Grant

Research Interests

Biochemistry and Cell Biology.  Bioinformatics.  Biotechnology.  Cell Biology.  Fertility.  Early Origins of Health.  Fertility and Conception.  Reproductive Biology.
Cancer Cell Biology.  Clinical Oncology. 

Current National and International Research Support

  • 2019-2021.  New safer contraceptives that block ovulation
    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - Grand Challenge Research Grants.  Phase II.  CIA
  • 2019-2022.  Regulation of oocyte maturation and female fertility by functional non-coding RNA.
     NHMRC - Project Grants.  CIA
  • 2017-2019.  New safer contraceptives that block ovulation
    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - Grand Challenge Research Grants.  Phase I.  CIA
  • 2018-2020.  Why is there an increased risk of severe adverse perinatal outcomes after the use of clomiphene citrate for infertility treatment?
    NHMRC - Project Grants.  CIF
  • 2018-2020.  Antioxidant enzymes counter reactive oxygen species from steroidogenic cytochrome P450 enzymes in the ovary to limit aneuploidy of embryos.
    NHMRC - Project Grants.  AI
  • 2017-2020.  Re-energising the preimplantation embryo to extend lifetime health
    NHMRC - Project Grants CIC
  • 2016-2021.  Molecular control of female fertility and cancer.
    Research Fellowships.  CIA
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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Co-Supervisor Design and Synthesis of New N-Cadherin Antagonists for Use as Contraceptives Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Rouven Becker
    2017 Co-Supervisor Re-energising the Pre-implantation Embryo to Extend Lifetime Health Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Yasmyn Ellaynah Gordon
    2017 Co-Supervisor Reversing age associated declines in oocyte quality and female fertility Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr David Thomas Kennedy
    2016 Principal Supervisor Long non-coding RNAS mediate hormone action and oocyte maturation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Doan Thao Dinh
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2011 - 2013 Co-Supervisor The Role of Nuclear Progesterone Receptor (PGR) in Regulating Gene Expression, Morphology and Function in the Ovary and Oviduct during the Periovulatory Period Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Lisa Akison
    2009 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Adamts1 is a promoter of metastatic cell behaviour in mammary cancer cells Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Izza Maria Doreen De Arao Tan
    2009 - 2012 Co-Supervisor The Role of the Hexosamine Biosynthesis Pathway and Beta-O-Linked Glycosylation in Determining Oocyte Developmental Competence Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Laura Frank
    2008 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Characterisation of the Development and Hormonal Regulation of the Ovarian Lymphatic Vasculature Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Hannah Brown
    2008 - 2010 Principal Supervisor Identification of Molecular Markers of Pregnancy Success for Assisted Reproduction Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Kathryn Gebhardt
    2008 - 2011 Co-Supervisor The Role of the Cumulus Oocyte Complex During Ovulation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Emily Alvino
    2007 - 2010 Co-Supervisor The Role of Hypoxia Inducible Factors in Regulating Ovarian Function Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Kimberley Tam
    2006 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Determination of Non-Invasive Viability Markers for Human Embryos in In Vitro Fertilization Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Deanne Kate Inglis
    2005 - 2008 Principal Supervisor Functional Characterisation of the Cumulus Oocyte Matrix During Maturation of Oocytes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Kylie Dunning
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  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2018 - 2021 Director Society for the Study of Reproduction Board of Directors Society for the Study of Reproduction United States
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2016 - ongoing Member AMS Research Committee University of Adelaide Australia
    2015 - ongoing Member Robinson Research Institute Executive Council Robinson Research Institute Australia
  • Position: Professor
  • Phone: 83134096
  • Email: darryl.russell@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor 5
  • Room: WS5058.01
  • Org Unit: Paediatrics and Reproductive Health

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