Dr Nicola Romano

My research interest looks at how the brain controls the production of hormones from the pituitary gland.

Dr Nicola Romano

Lecturer (Edinburgh-Zhejiang)

Hugh Robson Building

15 George Square

Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

 Work: +44 (0) 131 651 1711

 Email: nicola.romano@ed.ac.uk


Personal profile

  • 2016 – present: Edinburgh-Zhejiang lecturer, University of Edinburgh

  • 2014 - 2016: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Edinburgh
  • 2008 - 2014: Postdoctoral Fellow, CNRS, Montpellier, France
  • 2005 - 2008: PhD Student, Physiology, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • 2000 - 2005: MSc Student, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, University of Milan, Italy

Research Theme


From reproduction to growth, from stress to maternal care, the most basic processes in our body are governed by hormones. The pituitary gland is central for the production of hormones, and the precise pulsatile pattern of hormones it secretes strongly influences their final effect. The research of my laboratory looks at how the brain controls the production of hormones from the pituitary gland. How do cells decode and interpret signals from their environment to generate meaningful outputs?

A central interest of my research is studying the importance of functional heterogeneity in biological systems. Biological systems are inherently heterogeneous and no two cells are equal, even if they “do the same thing”.  This is crucial in hormonal systems, where cells behaving heterogeneously need to cooperate to generate coordinate outputs. 

We use neuroendocrine and other systems to study this question, and a combination of calcium and 3D imaging, electrophysiology, molecular biology, and bioinformatics; we are trying to understand the communication mechanisms that generate coordinate behaviors from single heterogeneous cells. One fascinating and unresolved question in this regard is how the 3D arrangement of cells in the pituitary (and other tissues) allows for the interpretation of external signals.

I am also deeply involved in teaching data science at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, ranging from "traditional" statistics to recent methods in data analysis, image analysis, and machine learning.


Selected publications

Romanò et al. - Dissection of the corticotroph transcriptome in a mouse model of glucocorticoid-induced suppression of the HPA axis, BiorXiv 2020

Fidanza et al. - Single cell analyses and machine learning define hematopoietic progenitor and HSC-like cells derived from human PSCs., Blood 2020

Romanò and Shipston - Anterior Pituitary and Pars Intermedia Space: Corticotrophs (ACTH) and Melanotrophs (α-MSH). In: Hormonal Signaling in Biology and Medicine. Litwack G, editor. 2019

Yip et al. - Elevated Prolactin during Pregnancy Drives a Phenotypic Switch in Mouse Hypothalamic Dopaminergic Neurons., Cell Rep. 2019

Amorim et al - Loss of eIF4E Phosphorylation Engenders Depression-like Behaviors via Selective mRNA Translation., J Neurosci. 2018

Romanò et al. - Heterogeneity of calcium responses to secretagogues in corticotrophs from male rats -Endocrinology 2017

Romanò et al. - Multiple-scale neuroendocrine signals connect brain and pituitary hormone rhythms - Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2017

Chauvet et al. - Complementary actions of dopamine D2 receptor agonist and anti-VEGF therapy on tumoral vessel normalization in a transgenic mouse model. - Int J Cancer 2017

Le Tissier et al. - An updated view of hypothalamic-vascular-pituitary unit function and plasticity - Nat Rev Endocrinol 2016

Chauvet et al. - Combining cadherin expression with molecular markers discriminates invasiveness in growth hormone and prolactin pituitary adenomas. – J Neuroendocrinol 2016

Guillou et al. - Assessment of lactotroph axis functionality in mice: longitudinal monitoring of PRL secretion by ultrasensitive-ELISA. - Endocrinology 2015

Osterstock et al.- Sustained Alterations of the tanycytes of the median eminence after traumatic brain injury - Endocrinology 2014

Romanò et al. - Plasticity of hypothalamic dopamine neurons during lactation results in dissociation of electrical activity and release. - J Neurosci 2013

Hodson et al. - Existence of long-lasting experience-dependent plasticity in endocrine cell networks. - Nat Commun 2012

Romanò et al. - Nonclassical estrogen modulation of presynaptic GABA terminals modulates calcium dynamics in gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons. - Endocrinology 2008

Information for students:

Willingness to discuss research projects with undergraduate and postgraduate students: YES - please click here