Professor John Hirst

Professor Jonathan Hirst currently holds a research and teaching position in Experimental Pharmacology in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle.  His research is undertaken at the Mothers & Babies Research Centre, located at the Hunter Medical Research Institute, and focuses on the role of neurosteroids in fetal and neonatal development. Progesterone derived neurosteroids are elevated during gestation and form a major neuromodulatory system in fetal life. The key fetal neurosteroid, allopregnanolone, forms a major signalling conduit between the placenta and fetal brain and has important trophic actions.  This interaction regulates excitability and protects the fetus from adverse events in late gestation including episodes of hypoxia. His current studies are examining the action of maternal stressors on fetal neurosteroid synthesis, the role of changes neurosteroid concentration and the effect of these changes on long term outcomes.  


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