By Lauren Hines | Bond LSC
Still in the lab after 45 years, chancellor’s professor emeritus Michael Roberts has received recognition for his career in reproductive biology research.
Roberts won the Marshall Medal from the UK Society for Reproduction and Fertility (SRF) in August and the Gold Medal and Honorable Membership of the Animal Reproduction Branch of the Chinese Association of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine (CAAV) in October.
“It’s sort of a culmination of my career in reproduction,” Roberts said.
Since the mid-1970s, Roberts has studied reproductive biology including early pregnancy in cattle and sheep to stem cells models to exploring the causes of preeclampsia.
Roberts received the Marshall Medal largely for his groundbreaking research on interferon tau, a protein secreted by the embryos of cattle, sheep, and other ruminants, which is responsible for signaling to the mother that she is pregnant. In the absence of this signal, the pregnancy fails.
Roberts received the Gold Medal and Honorable Membership of the Animal Reproduction Branch for his long-term efforts in promoting academic cooperation with Chinese researchers in the field of animal reproduction science, including the training of young Chinese scientists.
Currently, Roberts’ lab is using various stem cell models to study the development of the human placenta and the origins of placental diseases, such as early-onset preeclampsia. This disease is life-threatening and initiated in the very earliest stages of a human pregnancy, although only first manifested late in the second trimester.
Even after so many discoveries, Roberts isn’t stopping when there’s still so much left to find.