Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Camden

Research Groups: Sustainable Food Systems

Andrew is a Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences. His research focuses on understanding the interactions between germ cells and somatic cells in the developing fetal gonad, and how these interactions regulate the development and differentiation of germ cells into sperm and eggs.

Andrew’s scientific career began with a BSc in Genetics at University College London (1999-2002), during which a final year project on the genetics of spermatogenesis sparked an interest in the biology of germ cells and reproductive biology more broadly.  To pursue this further, he moved to the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, to undertake a four-year combined MSc/PhD (2002-2006) in the laboratory of Professor Howard Cooke, characterising the expression, function and regulation of the Tex19.1 gene during germ cell development in mice.

In late 2006, Andrew moved across town to undertake postdoctoral training with Professor Richard Anderson at the MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, investigating the regulation of oogenesis by growth factor signalling in the human fetal ovary.  This work led to a fellowship award from Medical Research Scotland in 2010, to investigate how the somatic cells of the human fetal ovary influence the developmental fate of germ cells, with a particular focus on the mechanisms that regulate the entry of germ cells into meiosis.

Andrew joined the RVC in January 2013 to continue his research on germ cell-somatic cell interactions during fetal gonadal development.

Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are the embryonic precursors of sperm and egg in the adult organism.  PGC development is tightly regulated by interactions with their surrounding microenvironment in the fetal gonad, including neighbouring somatic cells, growth factors and the extracellular matrix, which collectively are known as the germ cell niche.

Andrew’s research aims to improve our understanding of how the niche regulates PGC development during fetal life, with a particular focus on identifying the downstream genetic targets of TGF-beta superfamily growth factor signalling in the fetal gonad, and determining the functional contribution of these targets to the regulation of germ cell development. 

A full list of Andrew's publications (via PubMed) is available here. 

He J, Stewart K, Kinnell HL, Anderson RA, Childs AJ (2013) A developmental stage-specific switch from DAZL to BOLL occurs during fetal oogenesis in humans, but not mice. PLoS ONE 8(9):e73996. PubMed  Article

Anderson RA, McIlwain L, Coutts S, Kinnell HL, Fowler PA, Childs AJ (2013) Activation of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor by a component of cigarette smoke reduces germ cell proliferation in the human fetal ovary. Mol Hum Reprod in press, epub 5th Sept 2013.  PubMed  Article

Childs AJ, Kinnell H, He J, Anderson RA (2012) LIN28 is selectively expressed by primordial and pre-meiotic germ cells in the human fetal ovary. Stem Cells Dev 21(13):2343-9.  PubMed  Article

Eddie SL, Childs AJ, Jabbour H, Anderson RA (2011) Developmentally-regulated IL6-type cytokines signal to germ cells in the human fetal ovary. Mol Hum Reprod 18:88-95.  PubMed  Article

Archambeault D, Tomaszewski J, Childs AJ, Anderson RA, Yao HH (2011) Testicular somatic cells, not gonocytes, and the major source of functional activin A during testis morphogenesis. Endocrinology 156:4358-67.  PubMed  Article

Childs AJ, Cowan G, Kinnell HL, Anderson RA, Saunders PTK (2011) Retinoic acid signalling and the control of meiotic entry in the human fetal gonad.  PLoS ONE 6:e20249.  PubMed  Article

Childs AJ, Kinnell HL, Collins CS, Hogg K, Tritton S, Bayne RAL, McNeilly AS and Anderson RA (2010) BMP signalling in the human fetal ovary is developmentally-regulated and promotes primordial germ cell apoptosis. Stem Cells 28:1368-78.  PubMed  Article

Childs AJ, Bayne RA, Murray AA, Martins da Silva S, Collins S, Spears N and Anderson RA (2010) Differential expression and regulation by activin of the neurotrophins BDNF and NT4 during human and mouse ovarian development. Dev Dyn 239:1211-19.  PubMed  Article

Childs AJ and Anderson RA (2009) Activin A selectively represses expression of the membrane-bound isoform of Kit Ligand in human fetal ovary. Fertil Steril 92:1416-9.  PubMed  Article

Ollinger R, Childs AJ, Burgess HM, Speed RM, Lundegaard PR, Reynolds N, Gray NK, Cooke HJ and Adams IR (2008) Deletion of the pluripotency-associated Tex19.1 gene causes activation of endogenous retroviruses and defective spermatogenesis in mice. PLoS Genetics 4(9):e1000199.  PubMed  Article

Coutts SM, Childs AJ, Fulton N, Collins C, Bayne RA, McNeilly AS and Anderson RA. (2008) Activin signals via SMAD2/3 between germ and somatic cells in the human fetal ovary and regulates kit ligand expression. Dev Biol 314:189-99.  PubMed  Article

Kleinjan DA, Seawright A, Childs AJ and van Heyningen V (2004) Conserved elements in Pax6 intron 7 involved in (auto)regulation and alternative transcription. Dev Biol 265:462-477.  PubMed  Article

Invited Contributions:

He J, Childs AJ, Zhou J, Anderson RA (2013) Immunohistochemical approaches to the study of human fetal ovarian development. Methods Mol Biol 957:59-75.  PubMed  Article

Childs AJ, McNeilly AS (2012) Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions in granulosa cells: a key to follicle activation? Biol Reprod 86(5):152.  PubMed  Article

Childs AJ, Anderson RA (2012) Experimental approaches to the study of human primordial germ cells. Methods Mol Biol 825:199-210. PubMed  Article

Childs AJ, Saunders PTK and Anderson RA (2008) New Research Horizons: Modelling germ cell development in vitro. Mol Hum Reprod 14:501-11.  PubMed  Article

Andrew teaches early gonadal and germ cell development on the year 3 BSc BioVeterinary Sciences Advanced Reproduction and Development module, and the application of novel reproductive technologies on the year 2 BVetMet Integrated Concepts modeule.  Andrew is also an academic tutor to students in year 3 of the BSc BioVeterinary Science course and in years 1 and 2 of the BVetMed course, and supervises laboratory projects for students in years 2 and 3 of the BSc BioVeterinary Science course.

In addition, Andrew is a guest lecturer and project supervisor on the Reproductive Science and Women’s Health MSc course at UCL.

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