Developmental Endocrinology Research Group

The Developmental Endocrinology Research Group which is led by Professor Syed Faisal Ahmed consists of a group of investigators who are currently based at the QEUH & RHC Glasgow campus of the School of Medicine. The research activity in the group aims to understand the link between early life disorders of endocrine function and long-term outcome and most of their work is focussed in the fields of sex and skeletal development. Their work has been funded through a number of sources including CSO, EU, MRC, GCHC pharma and overseas governments. The group achieves its mission of performing translational research that is of clinical importance by relying on strong research partnerships with a wide range of experts in the field of clinical biochemistry, e-science, molecular genetics, imaging and molecular and cell biology that exist in Glasgow and beyond.  The group also has a strong track record in developing registries for rare conditions.


Research Contacts

Professor Syed Faisal Ahmed

Professor Syed Faisal Ahmed was appointed to the Samson Gemmell Chair of Child Health at the University of Glasgow in 2012.   He leads the Developmental Endocrinology Research Group which has a focus on understanding disorders of endocrine function that present in early life.







Dr Salma Ali

Dr Salma Ali graduated from The University of Glasgow in 2008 and commenced her paediatric training in the West of Scotland. In 2018, Salma began a Clinical Research Fellow post within the Developmental Endocrinology Research Group in Glasgow.  She is currently studying for a PhD at the University of Glasgow,  under the supervision of Professor Faisal Ahmed.  Her research interests include the use of routinely collected clinical data for the assessment of outcomes in rare endocrine conditions such as DSD and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.  She aims to pursue a career in Paediatric Endocrinology.

Dr Malika Alimussina

Dr Malika Alimussina graduated from the Astana Medical University, Kazakhstan in 2006 and undertook most of her clinical training in Paediatric Endocrinology in Kazakhstan.   

From 2012 - 2017, Malika worked as a Paediatric Endocrinologist at the National Research Centre for Maternal and Child Health and Republican Diagnostic Center in Astana which serve as the clinical training sites for Nazarbayev University School of Medicine.    In 2015, Malika was awarded a Clinical Fellowship from the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) and spent four months attached to the paediatric endocrine department at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow.

Research Project Summary

For her PhD research project, Malika will focus on studies of longterm outcome and aetiology in boys with Disorders of Sex Development (DSD).  This project will include an assessment of the prevalence of endocrine and genetic abnormalities in XY DSD children with detailed assessment of the underlying genetic abnormality through an extended panel of XY DSD genes and particular focus on bone health.   She will also investigate the effect of androgens on gene expression in this group.   These studies will dovetail with other clinical and research activities in the Developmental Endocrinology Research Group.

Dr Jillian Bryce

Dr Jillian Bryce has a degree and PhD in cell biology and four years' post-doctoral research experience in neurophysiology at the University of Glasgow.   Jillian has been involved in the co-ordination of 7 large collaborative biomedical projects funded by UK (BBSRC) and European (ECFP7, COST) funding bodies.   Since 2011, Jillian has been project manager of the International DSD Registry and more recently the I-CAH registry.  She simultaneously co-ordinates the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity Research Support Scheme which allocates funding to Children's health research in the West of Scotland.   Jillian is currently involved in developing a European Reference Network for Rare Endocrine diseases as an objective of COST Action DSDnet.

Dr S Ching Chen

Dr S Ching Chen is a national GRID trainee with a particular interest in diabetes and bone.   Ching is based in Paediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow.  She graduated from the University of Glasgow and undertook her paediatric training predominantly in the west of Scotland.  In 2013 she was awarded the Clinical Research Fellowship by the Yorkhill Children's Charity, renamed Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity, and is currently studying for an MD at the University of Glasgow, under the supervision of Professor Syed Faisal Ahmed.

Research Project Summary

As part of her MD, Ching is undertaking a translational research project looking at the bone health of children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes.  She spent a year in the Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology (IMCSB) under the supervision of Dr Stephen Yarwood, to study the effects of metformin on mesenchymal stem cell differentiation into bone and fat.  Her clinical study will explore the feasibility of MRI as a tool for assessing bone health in healthy children and the assessment of bone microarchitecture and marrow adiposity in children with established, as well as newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes mellitus.


Dr Huda Elsharkasi

Huda Elsharkasi graduated from Benghazi University, Libya in 2007.  After obtaining her MSc in 2012, Huda worked as a general paediatrician for four years in Benghazi.    Huda commenced her PhD Fellowship in 2016, supervised by Professor Syed Faisal Ahmed and Dr Christie McComb.   Her PhD project will focus on assessment of bone microarchitecture and marrow adiposity in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus from diagnosis and also healthy children.   Her study will utilise MRI, DXA and bone turnover markers to characterise changes in skeletal health in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus following diagnosis.  In addition, Huda will aim to create normal reference ranges for bone microarchitecture in healthy children using MRI.

Dr Gabriella Gazdagh

Dr Gabriella Gazdagh is a Specialist Trainee in Clinical Genetics with a special interest in disorders of sex development.  She is currently based at the West of Scotland Regional Genetics Service in Glasgow.  Gabriella graduated from the University of Szeged in Hungary and after pursuing training in Paediatrics in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery, joined the Clinical Genetics training in 2014.  Gabriella was awarded the Clinical Research Fellowship by the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity Research Fund in 2016.

Research Project Summary

In the research project "Deciphering Disorders of Sex Development", Gabriella aims to perform a retrospective review of DSD phenotypes and associations of clinical features recorded by the UK wide Deciphering Developmental Disorders (DDD) study, carrying out detailed variant analysis of the variant call format (vcf) files.   She hopes to evaluate the diagnostic yield of exome sequencing in the investigation of DSD, further defining the phenotype of known DSD-associated mutations and identifying new genetic associations with genes not previously linked to sex development.   Her supervisors are Professor Edward Tobias, Professor Syed Faisal Ahmed and Dr Ruth McGowan.

Dr Shuko Joseph

Dr Shuko Joseph is a senior trainee in Paediatric Neurodisability with a special interest in neuromuscular disorders.  She graduated from the University of Glasgow and undertook her paediatric training in Edinburgh and Glasgow, prior to commencing her post on a three year Clinical Research Fellowship, funded by the Chief Scientist Office, Muscular Dystrophy UK and Action Duchenne in 2015.   The PhD research study "ScOT-DMD Secondary Osteoporosis and its Therapy in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy" investigates the complex pathophysiology of secondary osteoporosis in Scottish boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy through a series of bone biomarkers and use of innovative imaging techniques.  She is also part of the Glasgow Neuromuscular Research Team and is involved in research activity with the Paediatric Neurosciences Research Group.   Shuko is a Steering Committee member of the Scottish Muscle Network and is involved in improving the bone surveillance programme and in increasing future capacity for collaborative translational research.

Dr Angela Lucas Herald

Dr Angela Lucas Herald graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2010 and since then, has been a paediatric academic trainee in the West of Scotland.  In 2014, Angela was appointed as Clinical Lecturer in Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Glasgow and later in 2016 will begin a Clinical Research Fellow post at the British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research Centre of Excellence in Glasgow.   She aims to pursue a career in Paediatric Endocrinology, with a specialist interest in the field of disorders of sex development.    Angela is heavily involved in research and medical education and regularly teaches and supervises undergraduate MBChB students.

Dr Avril Mason

Dr Avril Mason took up the post of Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist in 2013 after completing her clinical and research training in Glasgow.   Dr Mason's clinical focus includes Turner Syndrome and she is the clinical lead for the paediatric complex bone service in Glasgow and the lead clinical contact for children with primary osteoporosis.  Dr Mason is currently involved in clinical research in Turner Syndrome and also assessment of pubertal disorders/hypogonadism. 

Research Project Summary

  • Utility of urinary gonadotrophin for evaluation of pubertal disorders
  • Blood pressure management in Turner Syndrome

Mr Martin McMillan

Martin McMillan is the Developmental Endocrinology Research team manager and supports the team of clinical research fellows and postgraduate research students in a variety of technical and analytical roles.   Martin also supports the group with biochemical analysis by the demonstration of techniques and analysis of samples including ELISA assays for growth and bone markers, gonadotrophins, Luminex cytokine assays and sample storage.   Martin is a member of the DSD diagnostic service for disorders of sex development, a multidisciplinary team concerned with the molecular genetic and biochemical care of patients referred for sex development anomalies.   Other studies Martin supports are the Urinary gonadotrophin study which looks at patients referred for LHRH investigation or GNRH antagonist injections to investigate the relationship between urinalysis and blood sampling.   Martin also oversees the Scottish Audit of atypical genitalia, which is a screen of newborn infants referred for sex karyotyping due to atypical genitalia.     Martin is also part of the IDSD project management group, which meets monthly to discuss improvements, updates and implementation of their International DSD website.

Dr Martina Rodie

Martina Rodie is a Consultant Neonatologist in the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow and an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. She is currently the Clinical Lead for the Scottish Differences of Sex Development Managed Clinical Network.  She was awarded her PhD from the University of Glasgow in 2017.  Her research interests include differences of sex development, congenital anomalies and rare diseases.  She has been working with The Office for Rare Conditions since its inception in 2017.

Dr M Guftar Shaikh

Dr M Guftar Shaikh graduated from the University of Aberdeen. He started his specialist paediatric training and undertook his MD research at the Birmingham Children's Hospital, before moving to Manchester Children's Hospital to complete his paediatric endocrine/diabetes training.  He took up his current consultant post at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill in 2008.  He is the clinical lead for the endocrine service and is primarily involved in clinical services.   His research / clinical interests include late effects of childhood cancer, pathological obesity and Prader Willi syndrome, as well as transition of endocrine care from paediatrics to adult services.

Dr Sheila Shepherd

Dr Sheila Shepherd (PhD) has been employed within Greater Glasgow & Clyde National Health Service as the paediatric bone densitometrist for the past ten years.  During this time, she has gained extensive knowledge of primary and secondary osteoporosis in childhood and adolescence.   She has a special interest in how the impact of illness, especially during critical periods, can affect bone health.    Recent research interests include vertebral fracture assessment during childhood, bone health in adolescent eating disorders and the clinical application of peripheral quantitative tomography for assessing bone health during childhood.

Lewis Steell

Lewis Steell graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2015, before completing an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine at the University of Glasgow in 2016.   He subsequently completed some work as an honorary member of the UK Biobank research group at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow.   In 2017, Lewis was awarded the St Andrew's Society of New York PhD studentship from the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity Research Fund, to be conducted under the supervision of Dr Stuart Gray and Dr Jarod Wong.

Research Project Summary

This PhD will investigate the prevalence of abnormal bone microarchitecture, bone marrow adiposity, and muscle health in children and adults with childhood onset Crohn's disease, using novel methods of 3T microMRI.   Additionally, the project will qualitatively assess the acceptability and feasibility of conducting high impact exercise interventions in patients with childhood onset Crohn's disease; and will subsequently investigate if high impact exercise is beneficial for improving markers of bone metabolism, muscle health, and disease activity in these patients.

Dr Jarod Wong

Dr Jarod Wong was appointed to the position of Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Endocrinology in 2015.   He graduated from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and undertook most of his clinical and research training in Paediatric Endocrinology in Glasgow.  Dr Wong was a Fellow in Paediatric Endocrinology at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia from 2010 - 2013.  His ongoing clinical and translational research focuses on the theme of growth and skeletal development in childhood onset chronic disease, especially in groups of children with chronic inflammation such as inflammatory bowel disease and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.   Dr Wong is also co-ordinator of the Postgraduate Certificate in Child Health at the University of Glasgow.

Research Project Summary

  • Bone microarchitecture and marrow adiposity in adults with childhood onset Crohn's disease
  • Bone protective therapies in experimental models of chronic inflammation
  • Bisphosphonates therapy in children with chronic disease

Dr Claire Wood

Dr Claire Wood is a paediatric trainee with a special interest in endocrinology and in particular, bone and growth.   She graduated from the University of Edinburgh and after completing an Academic Clinical Fellowship in Newcastle Upon Tyne, was awarded an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship in conjunction with Muscular Dystrophy UK.

Research Project Summary

Claire is currently based at the Roslin Institute where she is undertaking a PhD project entitled, "Characterisation of skeletal development and the use of anabolic agents in murine models of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy".   Her supervisors are Professor Colin Farquharson (Roslin), Professor Faisal Ahmed (Glasgow), Dr Jarod Wong (Glasgow) and Professor Volker Straub (Newcastle).  During the PhD she hopes to characterise the bone and growth phenotype of three different muscular dystrophy mouse models and then using the most appropriate model, investigate the use of different anabolic agents to rescue the damage caused by glucocorticoids and the DMD disease process itself.