MRC Centre for Reproductive Health

Professor Hilary O D Critchley

Research interests, current research projects and current clinical trials.


Professor Hilary OD Critchley

Professor of Reproductive Medicine, Deputy Director Centre for Reproductive Health

  • BSc(Hons), MBChB (Hons), MD, FRCOG, FRANZCOG, FRSB, FMedSci, FRSE
  • Head, Deanery of Clinical Sciences, University of Edinburgh
  • Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, NHS Lothian

Research interests

Our research specifically examines local mechanisms within the womb-lining (endometrium) involved in menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, 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 (PRMs)

Current clinical trials:


Visit the DexFEM website


Visit the UCON website

Current Grants held as Principal Investigator

  • Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme (12/206/52) Title: Ulipristal acetate versus conventional management of heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB; including uterine fibroids): a randomised controlled trial and exploration of mechanism of action (UCON trial). Investigators: Prof HOD Critchley (PI), Dr J Daniels, Prof ARW Williams, Prof N Roberts, Dr S Semple, Prof S Bhattacharya, Dr D Hapangama, Prof M Lumsden,  Dr TJ Clark, Mr LJ Middleton, Dr P Smith, Ms E Nicholls.
  • MRC Developmental Clinical Studies (MR/J003611/1) Title: Reversing endometrial glucocorticoid deficiency in heavy menstrual bleeding. Investigators: Prof HOD Critchley, Prof BR Walker, Dr P Warner, Dr C Weir, Prof JP Iredale, Prof PTK Saunders, Dr S Semple, Prof SG Hillier.

Current Grants held as Co-Investigator

  • Medical Research Council Title: Androgens and women's health: developing new therapies for endometriosis. Investigators: Prof PTK Saunders (PI), D Gibson, Prof AW Horne, Prof HOD Critchley
  • Wellbeing of Women (RG1820) Title: Does increased endometrial perfusion and lack of hypoxia at menstruation lead to heavy menstrual bleeding? Investigators: Dr JA Maybin (PI), Prof HOD Critchley, Dr G McNaught, Dr L Kershaw
  • National Institute for Health Research Title: PRE-EMPT: Preventing recurrence of endometriosis by means of long acting progestogen therapy. Investigators: Prof S Bhattacharya (PI, Aberdeen), Dr J Daniels (PI, Birmingham), T Roberts (Birmingham), A Horne (Edinburgh), Prof J Gupta (Birmingham), Mr TJ Clark (Birmingham), Dr C Becker (Oxford), Dr G Jones (Sheffield), Prof E Denny (Birmingham City), Dr K Cooper (NHS Grampian), Prof HOD Critchley (Edinburgh), Mr L Middleton (Birmingham), Dr C Whittall (RJAH, Oswestry), Dr A Prentice (Cambridge), Dr E Saridogan (UCL).
  • Grant body: MRC Centre Grant Title: Establishment of MRC/University of Edinburgh Centre for Reproductive Health. Investigators: Prof PTK Saunders (PI), Prof HOD Critchley (Co-I), Prof JE Norman (Co-I), Prof RA Anderson (Co-I).

Recent Grants held as Principal Investigator:

  • TENOVUS SCOTLAND The Women of Scotland Luncheon “Women’s Health” Award Title: A new era in the treatment of chronic debilitating women’s health disorders using selective progesterone receptor modulators (PRMs). Investigators: Prof HOD Critchley, Prof PTK Saunders, Dr ARW Williams
  • Grant body: The Wellcome Trust (083908/Z/07/Z) Title: The role of androgens in endometrial proliferation and differentiation. Investigators: HOD Critchley, PTK Saunders
  • Grant body: Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (WHMSB-EU-131) Title: Novel magnetic resonance imaging strategies as a non-invasive biomarker of vascular and extracellular matrix morphology in women with uterine fibroids. Investigators: HOD Critchley, D Newby, J Walker, G McKillop, M Bastin, I Marshall, A Williams, A Horne, R Millar, R Anderson.

Recent Grants held as Co-Investigator

  • Grant body: MRC Project Grant (G0900550) Title: Postovulatory ovarian repair: a role for LOX in scar-free adult healing. Investigators: SG Hillier, HOD Critchley, JI Mason, JP Iredale, S Brown, CR Harlow

Staff/group members

  • Jacqueline Maybin   Email:
  • Alison Murray
  • Catherine Murray
  • Moira Nicol
  • Sharon McPherson
  • Kate Walker
  • Sheila Milne (PA)

PhD/MD Students

  • Ooi-Thye Chong
  • Bianca de Leo
  • Serge Madhra
  • Lucy Whitaker

Principal collaborators


  • Professor Philippa Saunders
  • Professor Brian Walker
  • Professor Andrew Horne
  • Professor Neil Roberts
  • Professor Karen Chapman
  • Professor Bruno Peault
  • 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)
  • Dr Steve Yellon (Loma Linda University, USA)


  • Centre for Trophoblast Research (CTR), Cambridge – 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 of Reproductive Health Expert Advisory Group, Scottish Government (from 2014)
  • President of Edinburgh Obstetrical Society (2014-2016)
  • 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 (2011-2016)
  • National Reproductive Health Research Network Menstrual Disorders Clinical Study Group – Member of Executive Board (from 2011)
  • Society for Gynecologic Investigation (SGI) – Member of Council (2010-2013)

Current Editorial Board Membership

  • Journal of Reproductive Immunology
  • Reproductive Sciences
  • Journal of Endometriosis
  • F1000 Research / co-Head of Faculty for Women’s Health
  • Human Reproduction Update