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Understanding the Mechanism of Human Labour

Professor Steve Thornton, DM FRCOG BM

Professor Steve Thornton

Tuesday 17 October 2006

Steve Thornton was appointed as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Warwick in 1998.

Steve studied medicine at Southampton University. He was awarded the first Birthright Research Training Fellowship in 1990, at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This was followed by an MRC Clinician Scientist award in 1992 at the University of Cambridge, which in turn led to the post of Lecturer (Honorary Consultant) in Materno-fetal Medicine in 1997. His clinical interests are in high-risk delivery, mainly at the University Hospital, Walsgrave.

Professor Thornton’s interest in research started with studies on the role of oxytocin in human labour. The metabolic clearance rate of oxytocin is markedly increased during pregnancy, which has important implications for administration of oxytocin and oxytocin antagonists, the latter recently introduced for the treatment of preterm labour. Professor Thornton leads a research group which investigates the physiological processes underlying myometrial contractility.

Recent work has concentrated on the role of oxytocin and vasopressin and the function of their respective receptors in labour. The role of prostaglandins, changes in the prostanoid receptors and the metabolism of prostaglandins in uterine tissues has also been determined. Current studies aim to investigate the process of oxytocin receptor signal transduction, cellular heterogeneity in human myometrium and the mechanisms responsible for controlling the increase in intracellular calcium associated with contraction. A translational approach is taken, and the clinical applications of the research were discussed.

Inaugural Lectures Series

View Prof Thornton's lecture
October 17, 2006
((Video clip) Windows Media, 46 mins)