Raymond Rodgers

Professor Raymond Rodgers

NHMRC Principal Research Fellow

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


Ray Rodgers undertakes novel and internationally competitive research (>90 publications) in the area of female reproductive function, particularly ovarian function. Each step of his research career has resulted in novel discoveries, and ones in which many other researchers have followed. His strength has been to mount multidisciplinary approaches to areas not tackled previously, or not successfully. Developing new areas is generally less productive but more rewarding if successful. Ray Rodgers has been singularly successful at doing both. His earlier discoveries are now in textbooks.

Since the early 1980's, Ray Rodgers has made many unique and substantial contributions to our understanding of how ovaries produce hormones and it is now very clear that the regulation of hormone production is unlike that of any other endocrine organ. The pattern of hormone secretion by the ovary changes on a day-to-day basis depending on the state of the development or regression of the endocrine organs, follicles and corpora lutea, within the ovary. Tissue development remodeling and regression involve cell division, differentiation, migration and apoptosis and Ray Rodgers has used several experimental strategies, including physiology, histology, electron microscopy, morphometry, cell isolation and culture and molecular biology, to study these processes.

Ray Rodgers undertakes novel and internationally competitive research (>140 publications) in the area of female reproductive function, particularly ovarian function.  Each step of his research career has resulted in novel discoveries, and ones in which many other researchers have followed.  His strength has been to mount multidisciplinary approaches to areas not tackled previously, or not successfully.  Developing new areas is generally less productive but more rewarding if successful.  Ray Rodgers has been singularly successful at doing both.  His earlier discoveries are now in textbooks.

Since the early 1980's, Ray Rodgers has made many unique and substantial contributions to our understanding of how ovaries produce hormones and it is now very clear that the regulation of hormone production is unlike that of any other endocrine organ.  The pattern of hormone secretion by the ovary changes on a day-to-day basis depending on the state of the development or regression of the endocrine organs, follicles and corpora lutea, within the ovary.  Tissue development remodeling and regression involve cell division, differentiation, migration and apoptosis and Ray Rodgers has used several experimental strategies, including physiology, histology, electron microscopy, morphometry, cell isolation and culture and molecular biology, to study these processes.

Research Interests

Ray Rodgers

Our overarching goals are to discover key aspects of ovarian development that underpin our understanding of infertility and endocrine diseases involving the ovary, and to develop prevention and treatment strategies for these. My group, in collaboration with many others, focuses on the roles of extracellular matrix. Matrix is diverse and complex and regulates many cellular and tissue functions. It has been largely overlooked in comparison with the numerous studies of hormones and growth factors in the ovary and hence holds potential for many new discoveries.

Research Projects
  1. Mechanism of Fetal Predisposition to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: While the precise aetiology of PCOS is yet to be determined, several familial studies from others have demonstrated an association between PCOS and the dinucleotide repeat microsatellite marker D19S884. D19S884 is located within intron 55 of the extracellular matrix gene fibrillin 3 gene. Studies of fibrillins 1 and 2 have shown that they function both as structural components of elastin fibres or mircrofibrils and as regulators of TGFβ family members. Regulation of TGFβ activity by fibrillins is a result of their ability to bind to latent TGFβ binding proteins causing sequestration of latent TGFβs into the extracellular matrix where they are stored and/or activated. TGFβs stimulate collagen production by fibroblasts and are up regulated in fibrosis. The PCOS ovary has increased trunica albunigea and stroma and collagen deposition in these layers. We published two large studies by Ray Rodgers (Molec Cell Endo 307, 133; Molec Human Reprod 15, 829) where we failed to find any role of fibrillin 3 in adult ovaries.  Then in a landmark study we showed that fibrillin 3 was found to be expressed in the developing stroma of human and bovine fetal ovaries (FASEB J 25, 2256-2265).  This study mechanistically combined three important observations about PCOS: (a) The fetal origins of PCOS, (b) The genetic studies suggesting that fibrillin 3 could be a candidate gene in PCOS and (c) The PCOS ovarian phenotype with altered stromal compartments (tunica albuginea, cortical stroma, theca interna); the hallmarks of enhanced TGFβ activity.  Note that this is also the first time TGFβ had been implicate in the aetiology of PCOS.
  1. Formation of the Ovary:  The continued study of PCOS necessitated studying the fetal ovary.  It soon became clear the current hypotheses on how the ovary develops, and as described in anatomy text books are not correct.  We identified how the ovary and follicles develop during fetal development (PLOS ONE 8(2):e55578).  Importantly we identified a novel cell type, GREL (Gonadal-Ridge Epithelial Like) cells, that are the precursor cells of both the surface of the ovary and the follicular granulosa cells.  We identified the surface epithelium at the base of the ovary differs in its developmental origins that the rest of the ovary, perhaps explaining the difference in their stemness and oncogenic potential observed between these two regions of the ovary surface (Nature 2013;495:241-5).
  1. Regulation of Thecal Androgen Production:  Androgen production by the theca cells is the cause of hyperandrogenia in PCOS women.  A hormone INSL3 whose role was not understood is also expressed in the thecal cells.  Early studies by us and collaborators (Biol. Reprod. 66, 934-943) found it be dynamically regulated during follicular growth and atresia.  In collaboration with Prof Phil Knight of Reading University is has now been shown to be regulated by BMPs and to stimulate androgen production by the thecal cells (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA  110, doi =10.1073/pnas.1222216110).
  1. Oocyte Quality: Whilst studying the follicular basal laminas we discovered in bovine (J. Reprod. Fertil. 118, 221-228) and in humans (Human Reprod. 24, 936-944) that follicles have one of either of two phenotypes of follicular basal lamina.  We believe these are formed by differential rates of follicle antrum expansion (Biol Reprod 82, 1021–1029). These forms are related to the quality of oocytes within them based upon their ability to mature in vitro (Human Reprod. 24, 936-944).  Both follicles are healthy. Using a combination of microarrays, proteomics and metabolomics we are identifying molecules differentially present in these follicles that could be used as biomarkers for each follicle type. Significant savings and improvements in ART should be possible if we could choose the better embryos for uterine transfer in IVF programs, thus increasing success rates.
  1. Focimatrix and Maturation of Follicles: We have identified many components of matrix and the changes they undergo in developing follicles, atretic follicles, ovulating follicles and resultant corpora lutea. We also identified a novel type of basal lamina matrix, called focimatrix, which is developmentally regulated in the later phases of follicular growth (Matrix Biol. 23, 207-217.). The novel aspect of this matrix is its conformation. Basal laminas are normally a sheet of matrix ‘wrapped' around a cell or a group of cells (epithelia or endothelia). Therefore basal laminas make compartments within tissues. Focimatrix, however, does not form a continuous layer and thus it cannot perform known basal lamina functions. Our recent data suggest that focimatrix is the key to a follicle developing dominance over other follicles in the follicular phase of the cycle (Mol Cell Endo 321, 207-214; Reproduction 137, 825-834). Studies into its regulation and function maybe useful in improving fertility both in PCOS women and in IVF programs.
  1. Formation of Follicular Fluid: Growth of the follicle encompasses enlargement of the oocyte, replication of follicular cells and formation and expansion of a central follicular antrum or cavity. Many in vitro studies of follicular growth have focused on the replication of granulosa cells, whilst in vivo studies using ultrasonography have focused on the expansion of the follicular antrum and its fluid. Replication of follicular cells and expansion of the follicular antrum are both important, and both are probably stimulated by some of the same hormones and growth factors. They are, however, very distinct processes. Our central hypothesis on follicular fluid formation, which is based upon our data, suggests that production by granulosa cells of hyaluronan and the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan versican generate an osmotic gradient to draw in fluid from the thecal layer (Reproduction 132, 119-131; Biol Reprod 82, 1021–1029).
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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2015 Deputy Director, Robinson Research Institute University of Adelaide
    2015 Adjunct Professor (Supplement Instructional Track) University of Michigan Medical School
    2014 Member, Executive Committee, Robinson Research Institute University of Adelaide
    2014 Co-Director, Fertility and Conception Theme, Robinson Research Institute University of Adelaide
    2011 - 2013 Deputy Director, Robinson Research Institute University of Adelaide
    2001 Principal Research Fellow National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2016 Award 2016 Honorary Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of obstetricians and Gynaecologists
    2015 Award Director's Award, Robinson Institute, 2015 Robinson Institute
    2011 Award Fellow, Society for Reproductive Biology, 2011
    2010 Award Honorary Life Member, Endocrine Society of Australia, 2010
    2010 Award Principal Research Fellow, National Health and medical Research Council, 2000, 2004, 2010
    2007 Award Underwood Fellowship to support senior visiting scientists to teh UK, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, UK, 2007
    1996 Award Senior Research Fellow, National Health and medical Research Council, 1992, 1996
    1986 Fellowship Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship, Australia, 1986
    1982 Award The Junior Scientist Award, Australian Society for Reproductive Biology, 1982
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1984 University of Melbourne Australia PhD
    1979 University of Melbourne Australia M Agr Sci
    1976 University of Melbourne Australia B Agr Sci (Hons)
  • Research Interests

Total grant money for which Ray Rodgers has been a chief investigator amounts to > $A27M. He has consistently held NHMRC grants for the last 26 years, and conceived and wrote two successful NHMRC Program Grants. Other funding sources include the ARC, Wellcome Trust, BBSRC of the UK, and various companies.

                            NHMRC Logo       ARC Logo          Wellcome Logo      BBSRC Logo

 

Period Grantees and Title Source Total Value
2010

Rodgers RJ
Principal Research Fellowship

NHMRC 
ID 349473
$135, 000
2010

Simeonovic C, Freeman C, Irving-Rodgers H, Rodgers R, Parish C.
Molecular remodelling of isolated islets for optimal survival and function of islet transplants

Diabetes Australia Research Trust Grant  Y10-SIMC $58,290
2010

Robertson SA, Thompson J,Rodgers R, Roberts CT, Norman RJ, Kennaway D, Ingman W, Gilchrist R, Mottershead D, Lane M, Robker R, Riccardelli C, Oehler M
Equipment.  Infrared fluorescence imager

NHMRC GNT9000031
University of Adelaide Health Sciences
School Paediatrics and Reproductive Health
Research Centre for Reproductive Health

$35,000
$5,000

$6,600

$12,000

2010 Ingman WV, Robertson SA, Rodgers R, Russell D, Lane M, Clifton V, Hull ML, Hutchinson M, Deiner K
Equipment.  FACS Canto II Three Laser Flow Cytometer

NHMRC GNT9000031

University of Adelaide Health Sciences

Research Centre for Reproductive Health

$90,000

$20,000

2011-2013 Rodgers RJ, Irving-Rodgers HF
Interactions between cells and extracellular matrix in the epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity of stratified epithelium
ARC
DP110102979
$285,000
2011-2013 Perry VE, Rodgers RJ, McMillen IC, Ridley Agri-Products, S. Kidman and Co.
Quantifying the effects of fetal programming and epigenetics on productivity and sustainability in the beef industry
ARC Linkage
LP110100649
$340,000 from ARC
2011-2015 Rodgers RJ
Principal Research Fellowship
NHMRC
349473
$765,370
2012 Ricciardelli C, Oehler M, Rodgers R
Annexin A2: a novel biomarker and therapeutic target for ovarian cancer
The Beat Cancer Project. $93,723
2013-2015 Rodgers RJ, Anderson RA
Investigation of a new hypothesis that increased TGFβ activity in developing fetal organs predisposes a women to polycystic ovary syndrome and associated metabolic disorders
NHMRC
APP1051720
$562,892
2015-2019 Teede H, Norman R, Hart R, Handelsman D, Davies M, Sullivan E, McNeil J,  Moran L, Rodgers R, Patton G
Centre for Research Excellence in the evaluation, management and health care needs of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and related health implications
NHMRC
APP1078444
$2,489,052
2015 Young F, Rodgers R, Sanderson B
Role of Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) in chemotherapy-induced infertility
Flinders Fertility $16,000
2015 Rodgers RJ
Lloyd Cox Strategic Research Excellence Awards
Lloyd Cox Research Fund $50,000
2016 Rodgers RJ
Lloyd Cox Strategic Research Excellence Awards
Lloyd Cox Research Fund $65,000
2016 Rodgers RJ
Principal Research Fellowship
NHMRC
APP1002495
$165,000
Course Coordination and Management
  • Veterinary Physiology, Preclinical Sciences, University of Melbourne, 1978-1981   

    For two of these four years, as a full time Senior Tutor (Lecture A) RJR co-ordinated second year and third year physiology courses (2 lectures and one practical class per week for each academic year plus examinations) to veterinary (years 2 and 3) and agricultural (year 3) students.

  • Bachelor of Biotechnology Science, Flinders University of South Australia

    1992- Consultant for establishment of Biotechnology 1 and 2 subjects and degree structure

    1993 to 1994- Member of Academic Board for Degree of Bachelor of Biotechnology Science

  • Honours in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide, 2004-2005, Member of the Academic Board for Honours Program
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide

    2004- Member of committee to evaluate year 1 of this degree

    2007 and 2008- Couse Co-ordinator, Human Reproductive Health III, Health Sciences, University of Adelaide

Lectures
  • Physiology, Department of Veterinary Preclinical Sciences, University of Melbourne

    1978-1981- Endocrinology, reproductive biology and renal physiology (15 lectures per annum, year levels 2 and 2)

  • Department of Agriculture, La Trobe University

    1988- Animal reproduction (3 lectures)

  • Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia

    1993- Visiting professor

  • Department of Anatomy, University of Adelaide

    1993- Comparative Reproductive Biology of Mammals III (2 lectures)

  • Bachelor of Biotechnology Science, Flinders University

    1993-2003- Biotechnology 1; Reproduction, Growth and Development (4 lectures per annum)

    1993-2003- Biotechnology 2; Reproductive Biotechnology (4 lectures per annum)

  • Environmental Health and Cognitive Science, Flinders University

    1995- Physiological Systems; Male and Female Reproductive Functions (1 lecture)

  • Human Molecular Genetics, Flinders University

    1997-2000- Cell behaviour and homeobox genes in diseases (2 lectures per annum)

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology Honours Program, University of Adelaide

     1998- Molecular Biology Techniques (1 lecture)

     2002-2003- Getting Published (1 lecture per annum)

     2005-current- Reproductive Cycles (1 lecture per annum)

  • MBBS, Year 2, University of Adelaide

    2002- Scientific Basis of Medicine, Ovarian function (1 lecture)

  • Biomedical Sciences, University of Adelaide

    2005, 2006- Human Physiology III, Problem Based Learning classes on reproduction

  • Medical Skills 3, in B Medical Science, Flinders University

    2006, 2007, 2008- Research fraud, The university researchers’ view of dealing with intellectual property and commercialisation (1 or 2 lectures per annum)

  • Health Sciences, University of Adelaide

    2006-current Comparative Reproductive Biology of Mammals III, Guest lecturer, Ovarian function

  • Human Reproductive Health III, Health Sciences, University of Adelaide

    2007-current- Ovarian function and genetics of infertility (1 lecture and 1 workshop)

Practical Classes
  • Department of Physiology, University of Melbourne

    1976-1977- Physiology 2nd year dental and medical students (2 classes per week, per annum).

  • Department of Veterinary Preclinical Sciences, University of Melbourne

    1978-1981- Full time Senior Tutor (Lecture A). Responsible for all aspects of practical classes in physiology and pharmacology (4 classes per week for the teaching year) to veterinary and agriculture students. This included:

    • Designing animal practical classes to be conducted by students
    • Production of practical manuals
    • Conducted numerous live demonstrations
    • Supervision of two tutors and three technical staff
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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 Development and Applications of X-ray Metallomic Techniques Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr James Henry Lovett
    2017 Principal Supervisor Studies of the Developing Fetal Ovary Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Menghe Liu
    2015 Principal Supervisor Regulation of Ovarian and Adrenal Androgen Production Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Nicole Anne Bastian
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2012 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Fetal Programming in Cattle: The Effects of Varying Maternal Protein Intake in Adolescent Beef Heifers on Fetal and Postnatal Growth and Development of the Calf Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Katrina Joan Copping
    2012 - 2013 Other Regulation of Cell Activation and Migration by Chemotactic Factors Doctor of Science Higher Doctorate Full Time Prof Shaun McColl
    2011 - 2014 Co-Supervisor The Distribution and Speciation of Trace Elements in Bovine Ovaries Using Synchrotron Techniques Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Melanie Ceko
    2009 - 2010 Co-Supervisor The Biological Role of Extracellular Matrix in Ovarian Cancer Metastasis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Miranda Ween
    2005 - 2007 Principal Supervisor Extracellular Matrix and the Development and Atresia of Bovine Ovarian Follicles Doctor of Philosophy Higher Doctorate Full Time Dr Helen Irving-Rodgers
    2002 - 2005 Principal Supervisor Formation of Ovarian Follicular Fluid Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Hannah Clarke
    2002 - 2006 Co-Supervisor Androgen Receptor Mediated Activity in the Ovary: Implications for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Theresa Hickey
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  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2014 - ongoing Member of the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia
    2014 - ongoing Member of Development Origins of Health and Disease Societty of Australia and New Zealand
    2013 - ongoing Australia and New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group
    2008 - ongoing PCOS Australian Alliance
    1993 - 1999 Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell Biology
    1993 - 1999 Society for Endocrinology
    1991 - 2001 The Australian Society for medical research
    1990 - 1999 The Fertility Society, UK
    1986 - ongoing The Endocrine Society, USA
    1984 - ongoing Society for the Study of Reproduction, USA
    1982 - 1992 Anatomical Society of Australia and New Zealand
    1981 - ongoing Endocrine Society of Australia
    1977 - ongoing Australian Society of reproductive Biology
  • Position: NHMRC Principal Research Fellow
  • Phone: 83133932
  • Email: ray.rodgers@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor 5
  • Room: WS5068.01
  • Org Unit: Paediatrics and Reproductive Health

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