Centre for Reproductive Health

Mitchell group

Our research is focused on male fertility preservation, disorders of sex development (DSD) and testicular cancer.

Professor Rod T Mitchell

Professor of Developmental Endocrinology

  • Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist
  • Principal Investigator

Contact details



The Centre for Reproductive Health
Institute for Regeneration and Repair (IRR)
4-5 Little France Drive
Edinburgh BioQuarter

Post Code
EH16 4UU


  • Department of Paediatric Endocrinology
    Royal Hospital for Children and Young People
    Edinburgh BioQuarter
    50 Little France Crescent
    EH16 4TJ

 Current Research Projects

1) Fertility preservation in childhood cancer survivors

Our research group interests include fertility preservation in children with cancer and this focuses on developing strategies for removing and storing testis tissue from patients prior to potentially sterilizing treatments in order that germ cell development can be achieved using in-vitro or in-vivo techniques.

Rod Mitchell Cancer Survivor Video

To view the above video, please click here

In 2015, we became the first UK group to establish a fertility preservation research programme to store testicular tissue from young cancer patients prior to their treatment. This programme in males, combined with our well-established fertility preservation programme for females, has resulted in the establishment of a collaboration of scientists and clinicians working as part of the 'Edinburgh Fertility Preservation’ programme for which Professor Mitchell is the lead for male fertility preservation. This unique collaboration combines clinical and laboratory research aimed at optimising fertility for children and young adults with cancer. We have received funding for our male fertility preservation work from Children with Cancer UK, Wellcome and UKRI.

Visit the Edinburgh Fertility Preservation website

2) The germ stem cell niche in the human fetal testis and the origins of testicular cancer

Our research is also focused on fetal development of the testis and particularly that of germ cells in relation to the origins of testicular cancer and infertility. Testicular cancer is thought to result from disrupted development of germ cells during fetal life which results in pre-malignant germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS) cells. The precise mechanisms of how this occurs are unknown. Understanding the origins of testicular cancer and developing fertility preservation strategies require further understanding of the germ stem cell niche and we hope that by using the models described above that we will learn more about the interactions between germ cells and their surrounding cells during testis development. Our research on origins of testicular cancer has demonstrated the relationship between the stage of germ cell development and their invasive potential. We also show that alteration of key signalling pathways and repression of transcription factors can induce testicular dysgenesis in the human fetal gonad.

3) The effect of exposure to endocrine disruptors on development of the human fetal testis

Fetal testis development may potentially be impaired by exposure to environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and this can have consequences for subsequent reproductive health in males. Potential EDCs include plasticisers, pesticides and pharmaceuticals and we are investigating the impact of a variety of these chemicals using our experimental animal and human models of testis development. Our recent research in this area has focused on effects of exposure to paracetamol (acetaminophen) on male reproductive development. We have shown that exposure to paracetamol can reduce the number of germ cells and impair testosterone production in human fetal testis tissues, which could affect reproductive health in males in later life.

Group members

Vacancy – Lab Manager/Senior Technician

Michael Rimmer – SCREDS Lecturer

Federica Lopes – Post-Doctoral Fellow (associate member)

Michaela Rodger - Clinical Trial Manager

Abigail Lewis - Research Nurse

Current PhD/MD students

Grace Forsyth – PhD student

Kathleen Duffin - PhD student

Iris Sanou – PhD student (Netherlands)

Current grants

2019 – 2027: UKRI Future Leader Fellowship – £1.76m

Role: Principal Investigator

Title: Protecting spermatogonial stem cells from chemotherapy-induced damage for fertility preservation in childhood cancer

2023 – 2026: Children with Cancer UK (CWCUK) - £290,454

Role: Principal Investigator

Title: Transplantation of cryopreserved testicular tissue to restore fertility after childhood cancer

2023 – 2026: National Institute for Health Research (Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Grant): - £349,738

Role: Lead Investigator (Joint).

Title: The development and evaluation of the first fertility preservation patient decision aid to support young males with cancer

2022 – 2026: Medical Research Council (MRC) - £906,715

Role: Co-Applicant.

Title: Reproductive function in teenage and young adult cancer patients in the UK

2021 – 2024: ESHRE Research Grant - £65,000

Role: Principal Investigator

Title: Fertility preservation in (peri)pubertal boys: Developing an approach for simultaneous cryopreservation of sperm and spermatogonial stem cells from testicular biopsies

2021 – 2024: ESHRE Research Grant - £177,000

Role: Co-Applicant

Title: Exploiting multi-omics to assess and map the fertility potential of cryopreserved prepubertal testicular tissues

Previous grants

2019 - 2022: Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) - £292,000

Role: Co-Investigator

Title: The importance of classical versus backdoor androgen production pathways in masculinisation, fertility and lifelong male health

2018 - 2022: National Institute for Health (NIH) - £44,058

Role: Co-Investigator

Title: Placental Origins of Phthalate-Induced Changes in Fetal Reproductive Development

2016 – 2019: Children with Cancer UK - Project Grant – £249,449

Role: Principal Investigator

Title: Fertility Preservation in prepubertal boys with cancer

2016 – 2021: MRC Programme Grant – £2.18m

Role: Co-Investigator

Title: The role of androgens in health and disease

2016 - 2019: Michelson Grant in Reproductive Biology Project Grant - £730,000

Role: Co-Applicant 

Title: Translation of an androgen miRNA sterilant: pre-clinical validation & a clinical trial in cats & dogs

2014 – 2018: FP7 EU Initial Training Network - £2.5m

Role: Full Partner/Principal Investigator


2012 – 2017: Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship - £1.03m

Role: Principal Investigator

Title: The germ stem cell niche and the origins of testicular germ cell tumours


A full list of publications can be found on Professor Mitchell's research profile:

Publications - Professor Rod Mitchell

Lab media

Fertility preservation in boys:

Birth of live monkey following prepubertal testicular transplant

Painkillers in pregnancy and fertility

70 Years of NHS Scotland - Looking after patients from cradle to grave

Paracetamol in pregnancy

Principal external collaborators

Jan-Bernd Stukenborg - Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Anne Goriely - University of Oxford, UK

Ans van Pelt - UMC Amsterdam, Netherlands

Find out more

Edinburgh Fertility Preservation website

ORCHID-NET consortium website

Edinburgh Fertility X account @EdinFertility

Rod Mitchell X account @RodTMitchell

Logos for: UKR, Children with Cancer UK, eshre, NIHR.