Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Camden

Research Groups: Immune Regulation and Cancer, Safe and Sustainable Food

Robert is a member of the Reproduction Research Group. His most recent research investigates the role of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in regulating female reproductive function.

Robert graduated from Queen Elizabeth’s College, Univeristy of London in 1982 and embarked on a PhD in adrenal endocrinology under the supervision of Dr Barbara Whitehouse. He obtained his PhD from King’s College London in 1986. Since then, he has continued to investigate the molecular and cellular control of steroidogenesis in gonadal cells.

Robert's interest in gonadal steroidogenesis was initiated during his association with Professor Brian Cooke at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine where he spent 3 years investigating the role of lipoxygenase metabolites on Leydig cell testosterone secretion. Following this he moved to the Institute of Zoology to work with Professor Tony Flint, where he developed an interest in the regulation of the mammalian corpus luteum in general and more specifically the molecular and cellular control of progesterone secretion.

Having spent 5 years at the Institute of Zoology, Robert returned to the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine as a Lecturer in Physiology. After two happy years at the Free, he moved to Department of Human Anatomy, University of Oxford. A move intended to last for at least 5 years proved very short lived as within a year Robert had moved to his present position at the RVC.

Robert commenced work at the RVC on the 1st of April 1997! The past ten years have seen a diversification of his research interests, with the role of polyunsaturated fatty acids and their lipid products (eicosanoids) in female reproduction receiving the majority of my attention.

Robert is a Fellow & Director of Studies for Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He is also a Member of the Society for Endocrinology (Meetings Committee 2006 – Present) & the Society for Reproduction and Fertility (Council Member 2006 – Present).

Robert is interested in:

  • The role of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in regulating female reproductive function (especially, luteolysis, maternal recognition of pregnancy and parturition).
  • Molecular and cellular aspects of steroid hormone biosynthesis in general and control of progesterone secretion by the mammalian corpus luteum in particular.
  • Cellular mode of action of gonadotrophins [e.g. LH,hCG] and arachidonic acid metabolites [eg. prostaglandin F2α and prostaglandin E2] in luteal tissue.
  • Protein phosphorylation and its role in regulating the formation, maintenance and demise of the corpus luteum i.e. roles of protein kinases and protein phosphatases in regulating progesterone secretion during the periods of luteinization, luteolysis and maternal recognition of pregnancy.

Robert is also the Co-founder National Ovarian Workshop (NOW)

Cheng, Z R; Abayasekara, D R E; Elmes, M; Kirkup, S E; Wathes, D C.
Effect of oleic acid supplementation on prostaglandin production in maternal endometrial and fetal allantochorion cells isolated from late gestation ewes.
PLACENTA, 36;9:1011-1017. (2015)

Marei, W F A; Abayasekara, D R E; Wathes, D C; Fouladi-Nashta, A A.
Role of PTGS2-generated PGE2 during gonadotrophin-induced bovine oocyte maturation and cumulus cell expansion.
REPRODUCTIVE BIOMEDICINE ONLINE, 28;3:388-400. (2014)

Cheng, Z R; Abayasekara, D R E; Ward, F; Preece, D M; Raheem, K A; Wathes, D C.
Altering n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratios affects prostaglandin production by ovine uterine endometrium.
ANIMAL REPRODUCTION SCIENCE, 143;1-4:38-47. (2013)

Dakin, S G; Werling, D; Hibbert, A; Abayasekara, D R E; Young, N J; Smith, R K W; Dudhia, J.
Macrophage Sub-Populations and the Lipoxin A(4) Receptor Implicate Active Inflammation during Equine Tendon Repair.
PLoS One, 7;2:e32333. (2012)

Dakin, S G; Dudhia, J; Werling, N J; Werling, D; Abayasekara, D R E; Smith, R K W.
Inflamm-Aging and Arachadonic Acid Metabolite Differences with Stage of Tendon Disease.
PLoS One, 7;11:e48978. (2012)

Cheng, Z; Elmes, M; Kirkup, S E; Abayasekara, D R E; Wathes, D C.
Effects of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on prostaglandin production in ovine fetal chorion cells in vitro in late gestation ewes.
PLACENTA, 32;10:752-756. (2011)

Webley, G E; Michael, A E; Abayasekara, D R E.
The relationship between the production and the anti-gonadotrophic action of prostaglandin F-2 alpha in luteal cells from the marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus) in the early and mid-luteal phase.
General and Comparative Endocrinology, 166;2:436-442. (2010)

Kirkup, S E; Cheng, Z; Elmes, M; Wathes, D C; Abayasekara, D R E.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids modulate prostaglandin synthesis by ovine amnion cells in vitro.
REPRODUCTION, 140;6:943-951. (2010)

DERECKA, K., SHELDRICK, E. L., WATHES, D. C., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & FLINT, A. P. (2008) A PPAR-independent pathway to PUFA-induced COX-2 expression. Mol Cell Endocrinol 287, 65-71. PubMed ID 18395968

WATHES, D. C., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & AITKEN, R. J. (2007) Polyunsaturated fatty acids in male and female reproduction. Biol Reprod 77, 190-201. PubMed ID 17442851

THURSTON, L. M., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & MICHAEL, A. E. (2007) 11beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase expression and activities in bovine granulosa cells and corpora lutea implicate corticosteroids in bovine ovarian physiology. J Endocrinol 193, 299-310. PubMed ID 17470521

SHELDRICK, E. L., DERECKA, K., MARSHALL, E., CHIN, E. C., HODGES, L., WATHES, D. C., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & FLINT, A. P. (2007) Peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptors and the control of levels of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 by arachidonic acid in the bovine uterus. Biochem J 406, 175-183. PubMed ID 17516915

CHENG, Z., SHELDRICK, E. L., MARSHALL, E., WATHES, D. C., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & FLINT, A. P. (2007) Control of cyclic AMP concentration in bovine endometrial stromal cells by arachidonic acid. Reproduction 133, 1017-1026. PubMed ID 17616730

CHANDRAS, C., HARRIS, T. E., BERNAL, A. L., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & MICHAEL, A. E. (2007) PTGER1 and PTGER2 receptors mediate regulation of progesterone synthesis and type 1 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity by prostaglandin E2 in human granulosa lutein cells. J Endocrinol 194, 595-602. PubMed ID 17761898

JONAS, K. C., CHANDRAS, C., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & MICHAEL, A. E. (2006) Role for prostaglandins in the regulation of type 1 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in human granulosa-lutein cells. Endocrinology 147, 5865-5872. PubMed ID 16959838

ELMES, M., GREEN, L. R., POORE, K., NEWMAN, J., BURRAGE, D., ABAYASEKARA, D. R., CHENG, Z., HANSON, M. A. & WATHES, D. C. (2005) Raised dietary n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake increases 2-series prostaglandin production during labour in the ewe. J Physiol 562, 583-592. PubMed ID 15513945

CHENG, Z., ELMES, M., KIRKUP, S. E., CHIN, E. C., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WATHES, D. C. (2005) The effect of a diet supplemented with the n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid on prostaglandin production in early- and late-pregnant ewes. J Endocrinol 184, 165-178. PubMed ID 15642793

CHENG, Z., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WATHES, D. C. (2005) The effect of supplementation with n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on 1-, 2- and 3-series prostaglandin F production by ovine uterine epithelial cells. Biochim Biophys Acta 1736, 128-135. PubMed ID 16140575

ELMES, M., TEW, P., CHENG, Z., KIRKUP, S. E., ABAYASEKARA, D. R., CALDER, P. C., HANSON, M. A., WATHES, D. C. & BURDGE, G. C. (2004) The effect of dietary supplementation with linoleic acid to late gestation ewes on the fatty acid composition of maternal and fetal plasma and tissues and the synthetic capacity of the placenta for 2-series prostaglandins. Biochim Biophys Acta 1686, 139-147. PubMed ID 15522830

CHIN, E. C., HARRIS, T. E. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (2004) Changes in cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and progesterone secretion in luteinizing human granulosa cells. J Endocrinol 183, 39-50. PubMed ID 15525572

CHIN, E. C. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (2004) Progesterone secretion by luteinizing human granulosa cells: a possible cAMP-dependent but PKA-independent mechanism involved in its regulation. J Endocrinol 183, 51-60. PubMed ID 15525573

CHENG, Z., ELMES, M., KIRKUP, S. E., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WATHES, D. C. (2004) Alteration of prostaglandin production and agonist responsiveness by n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in endometrial cells from late-gestation ewes. J Endocrinol 182, 249-256. PubMed ID 15283685

CHANDRAS, C., RAGOOBIR, J., BARRETT, G. E., BRUCKDORFER, K. R., GRAHAM, A., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & MICHAEL, A. E. (2004) Roles for prostaglandins in the steroidogenic response of human granulosa cells to high-density lipoproteins. Mol Cell Endocrinol 222, 1-8. PubMed ID 15249120

THURSTON, L. M., JONAS, K. C., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & MICHAEL, A. E. (2003) Ovarian modulators of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11beta HSD) activity in follicular fluid from bovine and porcine large antral follicles and spontaneous ovarian cysts. Biol Reprod 68, 2157-2163. PubMed ID 12606327

THURSTON, L. M., CHIN, E., JONAS, K. C., BUJALSKA, I. J., STEWART, P. M., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & MICHAEL, A. E. (2003) Expression of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11betaHSD) proteins in luteinizing human granulosa-lutein cells. J Endocrinol 178, 127-135. PubMed ID 12844344

CHENG, Z., ELMES, M., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WATHES, D. C. (2003) Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on prostaglandins produced by cells isolated from maternal intercotyledonary endometrium, fetal allantochorion and amnion in late pregnant ewes. Biochim Biophys Acta 1633, 170-178. PubMed ID 14499736

ROBINSON, R. S., PUSHPAKUMARA, P. G., CHENG, Z., PETERS, A. R., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WATHES, D. C. (2002) Effects of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids on ovarian and uterine function in lactating dairy cows. Reproduction 124, 119-131. PubMed ID 12090925

RAGOOBIR, J., ABAYASEKARA, D. R., BRUCKDORFER, K. R. & MICHAEL, A. E. (2002) Stimulation of progesterone production in human granulosa-lutein cells by lipoproteins: evidence for cholesterol-independent actions of high-density lipoproteins. J Endocrinol 173, 103-111. PubMed ID 11927389

DEWI, D. A., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WHEELER-JONES, C. P. (2002) Requirement for ERK1/2 activation in the regulation of progesterone production in human granulosa-lutein cells is stimulus specific. Endocrinology 143, 877-888. PubMed ID 11861509

HARRIS, T. E., SQUIRES, P. E., MICHAEL, A. E., BERNAL, A. L. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (2001) Human granulosa-lutein cells express functional EP1 and EP2 prostaglandin receptors. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 285, 1089-1094. PubMed ID 11478765

FOWKES, R. C., CHANDRAS, C., CHIN, E. C., OKOLO, S., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & MICHAEL, A. E. (2001) Relationship between the production of prostaglandins and progesterone by luteinizing human granulosa cells. J Endocrinol 171, 455-462. PubMed ID 11739011

WHITEHOUSE, B. J. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (2000) Adrenocortical function in a new world primate, the marmoset monkey, Callithrix jacchus. Gen Comp Endocrinol 120, 2-7. PubMed ID 11042005

FLINT, A. P., ABAYASEKARA, D. R., WHEELER-JONES, C. P., RILEY, P. R., KALUZ, S., KALUZOVA, M., SHELDRICK, E. L. & FISHER, P. A. (2000) Acute effects of interferon on estrogen receptor function do not involve the extracellular signal-regulated kinases p42mapk and p44mapk. J Interferon Cytokine Res 20, 225-233. PubMed ID 10714559

COOKE, B. A., ASHFORD, L., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & CHOI, M. (1999) The role of chloride ions in the regulation of steroidogenesis in rat Leydig cells and adrenal cells. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 69, 359-365. PubMed ID 10419013

ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WATHES, D. C. (1999) Effects of altering dietary fatty acid composition on prostaglandin synthesis and fertility. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 61, 275-287. PubMed ID 10670689

FORD, S. L., PERSAUD, S. J., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & JONES, P. M. (1997) Electrical permeabilization of rat luteal cells: in situ phosphorylation of endogenous protein. Steroids 62, 536-542. PubMed ID 9253793

RILEY, P. R., ABAYASEKARA, D. R., STEWART, H. J. & FLINT, A. P. (1996) Functional characterisation of an ovine endometrial oxytocin receptor cDNA transiently expressed in Cos-7 cells. J Endocrinol 149, 389-396. PubMed ID 8691097

FORD, S. L., ABAYASEKARA, D. R., PERSAUD, S. J. & JONES, P. M. (1996) Role of phosphoprotein phosphatases in the corpus luteum: I identification and characterisation of serine/threonine phosphoprotein phosphatases in isolated rat luteal cells. J Endocrinol 150, 205-211. PubMed ID 8869587

FLINT, A. P., ABAYASEKARA, D. R., RILEY, P. R., SHELDRICK, E. L. & CLARKSON, A. M. (1996) Mechanism of action of interferon on oestrogen receptor function. Biochem Soc Trans 24, 366S. PubMed ID 8878910

ABAYASEKARA, D. R., FORD, S. L., PERSAUD, S. J. & JONES, P. M. (1996) Role of phosphoprotein phosphatases in the corpus luteum: II control of progesterone secretion by isolated rat luteal cells. J Endocrinol 150, 213-221. PubMed ID 8869588

RILEY, P. R., STEWART, H. J., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & FLINT, A. P. (1995) Functional properties of a cloned ovine endometrial oxytocin receptor cDNA. Adv Exp Med Biol 395, 341-342. PubMed ID 8713984

RILEY, P. R., FLINT, A. P., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & STEWART, H. J. (1995) Structure and expression of an ovine endometrial oxytocin receptor cDNA. J Mol Endocrinol 15, 195-202. PubMed ID 8800644

FLINT, A. P., RILEY, P. R., KALUZ, S., STEWART, H. J. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (1995) The sheep endometrial oxytocin receptor. Adv Exp Med Biol 395, 281-294. PubMed ID 8713978

WHITEHOUSE, B. J. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (1994) Roles of type I and type II isoenzymes of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase in steroidogenesis in rat adrenal cells. J Mol Endocrinol 12, 195-202. PubMed ID 8060484

MICHAEL, A. E., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WEBLEY, G. E. (1994) Cellular mechanisms of luteolysis. Mol Cell Endocrinol 99, R1-9. PubMed ID 8187948

FLINT, A. P., LAMMING, G. E., STEWART, H. J. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (1994) The role of the endometrial oxytocin receptor in determining the length of the sterile oestrous cycle and ensuring maintenance of luteal function in early pregnancy in ruminants. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 344, 291-304. PubMed ID 7938200

WHITEHOUSE, B. J., PURDY, S. J. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (1993) Inhibition of corticosteroid production by sodium pentobarbitone in rat adrenocortical preparations. J Endocrinol 136, 75-83. PubMed ID 8381458

MICHAEL, A. E., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & WEBLEY, G. E. (1993) The luteotrophic actions of prostaglandins E2 and F2 alpha on dispersed marmoset luteal cells are differentially mediated via cyclic AMP and protein kinase C. J Endocrinol 138, 291-298. PubMed ID 8228738

ABAYASEKARA, D. R., ONYEZILI, N. I., WHITEHOUSE, B. J., LAIRD, S. M. & VINSON, G. P. (1993) Effects of chronic corticotrophin treatment on aldosterone metabolism in the rat. J Endocrinol 137, 445-455. PubMed ID 8396622

ABAYASEKARA, D. R., MICHAEL, A. E., WEBLEY, G. E. & FLINT, A. P. (1993) Mode of action of prostaglandin F2 alpha in human luteinized granulosa cells: role of protein kinase C. Mol Cell Endocrinol 97, 81-91. PubMed ID 8143907

ABAYASEKARA, D. R., JONES, P. M., PERSAUD, S. J., MICHAEL, A. E. & FLINT, A. P. (1993) Prostaglandin F2 alpha activates protein kinase C in human ovarian cells. Mol Cell Endocrinol 91, 51-57. PubMed ID 8472854

PURDY, S. J., WHITEHOUSE, B. J. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (1991) Stimulation of steroidogenesis by forskolin in rat adrenal zona glomerulosa cell preparations. J Endocrinol 129, 391-397. PubMed ID 1648588

COOKE, B. A., DIRAMI, G., CHAUDRY, L., CHOI, M. S., ABAYASEKARA, D. R. & PHIPP, L. (1991) Release of arachidonic acid and the effects of corticosteroids on steroidogenesis in rat testis Leydig cells. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 40, 465-471. PubMed ID 1659882

ABAYASEKARA, D. R., KURLAK, L. O., BAND, A. M., SULLIVAN, M. H. & COOKE, B. A. (1991) Effect of cell purity, cell concentration, and incubation conditions on rat testis Leydig cell steroidogenesis. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol 27A, 253-259. PubMed ID 2033025

ABAYASEKARA, D. R., KURLAK, L. O., JEREMY, J. Y., DANDONA, P., SHARPE, R. M. & COOKE, B. A. (1990) The levels and possible involvement of leukotriene B4 and prostaglandin F2 alpha in the control of interstitial fluid volume in the rat testis. Int J Androl 13, 408-418. PubMed ID 2178154

ABAYASEKARA, D. R., BAND, A. M. & COOKE, B. A. (1990) Evidence for the involvement of phospholipase A2 in the regulation of luteinizing hormone-stimulated steroidogenesis in rat testis Leydig cells. Mol Cell Endocrinol 70, 147-153. PubMed ID 2161362

ABAYASEKARA, D. R., VAZIR, H., WHITEHOUSE, B. J., PRICE, G. M., HINSON, J. P. & VINSON, G. P. (1989) Studies on the mechanisms of ACTH-induced inhibition of aldosterone biosynthesis in the rat adrenal cortex. J Endocrinol 122, 625-632. PubMed ID 2553838

VINSON, G. P., WHITEHOUSE, B. J., HINSON, J. P., PORTER, I. D., LAIRD, S. M., MCAULEY, M. E. & ABAYASEKARA, D. R. (1987) Control of aldosterone secretion in zona glomerulosa cell suspensions and in the perfused adrenal gland of the rat. J Steroid Biochem 27, 929-934. PubMed ID 2826912

Robert lectures on the BSc Bioveterinary Sciences course and enjoys small group teaching, interactive lecturing and developing assessment formats for large groups.

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