Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof Hilary Critchley

Personal Chair in Reproductive Medicine

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Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Education / Academic qualification

Doctor of Medicine, University of Manchester
Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, University of Manchester
Bachelor of Science, University of Manchester

Professional Qualifications

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, FRSE
Fellow of the Society of Biology, FSB
Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, FMedSci
Fellow of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, FFSRH
Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, FRCOG
Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, FRANZCOG

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseGynaecology


Research Interests

Our research specifically examines local mechanisms within the womb-lining (endometrium) involved in menstruation, implantation and early pregnancy loss. Both menstruation and implantation display features common to inflammatory events. We study the cascade of events that occur in cells of the endometrium that are triggered by withdrawal of the hormone, progesterone (P). This occurs at the end of each monthly cycle prior to a period. As a consequence of P-withdrawal, substances that are mediators of inflammation and populations of immune cells are increased in the endometrium. We are interested in the complex dialogue between circulating steroid hormones and the many different cell types, including immune cells that constitute the endometrium. 

We also study factors that switch on production of molecules involved in blood vessel growth and repair in the endometrium; both necessary events to prepare for the next menstrual cycle. If we can understand how the womb heals itself without scarring as women go through their menstrual cycles we hope we will contribute valuable information relevant to inflammation and scarring throughout the body. If these events are disturbed then abnormal menstrual bleeding may be the result. We are therefore studying endometrial samples collected from women attending with menstrual complaints. We hope that information about the molecular and cellular pathways involved in menstruation will help identify new targets for treatment, especially if these treatments could be delivered directly to the uterus. 

Study of endocrine/immune regulation of endometrial bleeding in women (physiological and pathological) is complemented by murine models of menstruation/uterine bleeding. 

Current research projects:

  • Mechanisms involved in menstruation and endometrial repair.
  • Novel injury-repair mechanisms: local cortisol metabolism in the female reproductive tract.
  • Establishment of murine models of menstruation and uterine bleeding.
  • Novel magnetic resonance imaging of vascular and extracellular matrix morphology in women with uterine fibroids.
  • Mechanism of action of progesterone receptor modulators

Staff/group members (MRC-CRH)

Jacqueline Maybin

Alison Murray

Catherine Murray

Moira Nicol

Catherine Hall

Reena Murgai

Sheila Milne (PA)

PhD/MD Students

Greg Armstrong

Ooi-Thye Chong

Bianca de Leo

Serge Madhra 


Principal collaborators


Professor Philippa Saunders

Professor John Iredale

Professor Brian Walker

Professor Stephen Hillier

Professor Andrew Horne

Professor Neil Roberts

Dr Ailsa Gebbie

Dr Pamela Warner

Dr Chris Weir

Dr Scott Semple

Dr Nik Hirani


Professor Mary Ann Lumsden (Glasgow)

Professor Ashley Moffett (Cambridge)

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya (Aberdeen)

Dr Justin Clark (Birmingham)

Dr Dharani Hapangama (Liverpool)


Professor Peter Rogers (Melbourne, Australia)

Professor Martha Hickey (Melbourne, Australia)

Professor Ian Fraser (Sydney, Australia)

Professor Mac Munro (Los Angeles, USA)

Dr Ov Slayden (Portland, USA)

Professor Carlos Simon (Valencia, Spain)

Professor Felice Petraglia (Siena, Italy)


External Committee Membership

  • Centre for Trophoblast Research (CTR) – Member of CTR Scientific Advisory Board (2014-2018)
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh – Member of RSE/Caledonian Research Foundation Fellowship Award Committee (from 2013)
  • Academy of Medical Sciences – Member Selection Panel for Academy's Starter Grants for Clinical Lecturers Scheme (2013-2016)
  • Co-Chair Reproductive Health Expert Advisory Group, Scottish Government (from 2014)
  • International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Menstrual disorders Working Group – Co-Chair and Founding Member
  • President Edinburgh Obstetrical Society (from October 2014)
  • European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE): Past Coordinator ESHRE Special Interest Group Endometriosis & Endometrium (SIGEE) (2012-2015) (Coordinator 2009-2012)
  • Board Member World Endometriosis Society (2011-2015)
  • Society for Gynecologic Investigation (SGI) – Member of Council (2010-2013)
  • National Reproductive Health Research Network Menstrual Disorders Clinical Study Group – Member of Executive Board (from 2011)

Current Editorial Board Membership

  • Journal of Reproductive Immunology
  • Reproductive Sciences
  • Journal of Endometriosis
  • F1000 Research
  • Human Reproduction Update

Research activities & awards

  1. 2014 Lady Margaret MacLellan Award

    Activity: Awards and AccoladesPrize (including medals and awards)

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