Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Camden

Research Groups: Musculoskeletal Biology, Comparative Genomics, Endocrinology and Reproduction, CPCS (Research Programme)

Research Centres: Clinical Investigation Centre

Dr Rob Fowkes is a Reader in Comparative Endocrinology within CBS, and is the current Associate Dean for Postgraduate Learning & Teaching. Rob's Endocrine Signaling Group investigates the mechanisms of membrane-to-nucleus signalling in endocrine tissues.

Rob completed a BSc (Hons) in Human Biology at Oxford Brookes in 1994. Following this he was awarded a Dorothy Hodgkin Studentship to undertake a PhD in Neuroendocrinology at the University of Bristol from 1994-1997, conducting his PhD on C-type natriuretic peptide in the pituitary in the McArdle Lab. Rob worked at the Royal Free Hospital & the RVC as a post-doc. examining prostaglandin biochemistry in the Michael & Abayasekara Labs. Rob also worked as a post-doc. at Barts & the Royal London in the Burrin Lab studying glycoprotein hormone gene transcription and steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1) in the pituitary. His final post-doc. position was as a visiting research fellow at UCSF (CA, USA) in Prof. Ingraham’s group, researching the function of SF-1 in hypothalamic gene expression and obesity onset.

Rob has been an active member of the Society for Endocrinology, serving on many committees. He was one of the youngest elected members of the Council of Management, and is still involved in the training provision for young endocrine scientists. Rob has completed a term of office on the American Endocrine Society's Trainees Career & Development Core Committee, served on the Endocrine Society's recent Strategic Plan 4 taskforce, and has just been appointed as Co-Chair of their Research Affairs Committee, and Basic Science Outreach Advisory Committee.

The ESG has two main areas of research focus:

  • Peptide hormone signalling in astrocytes and anterior pituitary cells, with specific focus on membrane-to-nucleus signalling of natriuretic peptides.
  • Endocrine disorders, including human, canine and feline pituitary adenomas; natriuretic peptides in comparative pathology/hepatic encephalopathy; non-invasive assessment of glucocorticoids as indicators of HPA activity in companion & production animals. 

A list of Rob's publications can be found here.

Rob teaches Endocrinology, cell signalling, cell & molecular biology on the BVetMed, B.Sc. Biovet Sci/Biological Science and Gateway courses.  He is a module leader on BSc Yr3 modules. Rob is also the Study Abroad academic director, Chair of several postgraduate Course Management Committees, and acts as a postgraduate tutor.

The ESG is very grateful for collaborations with clinical colleagues in internal medicine and soft tissue surgery at the QMHA, who generously provide endocrine neoplasias, as well as members of the Epilepsy Research Group (in particular Dr Rowena Packer) for samples in which to measure non-invasive markers of stress.  In addition, the ESG benefit from the unprecedented archive of pituitary adenomas that is curated by our collaborator at the University of Oxford, Dr Olaf Ansorge.

As part of a schools outreach programme, Rob makes an annual science pilgrimage to Dame Alice Owens School to bring science to the young and enthusiastic.

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