Dr Sander van den Driesche

My current research focuses on male reproductive health and disorders.

Dr Sander van den Driesche

Tenure Track Lecturer (Edinburgh | Zhejiang)

Hugh Robson Building

15 George Square

Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

 Work: +44 (0)131 650 3112

 Email: S.vandenDriesche@ed.ac.uk

Personal profile

  • 2016 - present: Tenure Track Lecturer (Edinburgh | Zhejiang)
  • 2011 - 2016: Senior Postdoctoral researcher, Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh
  • 2008 - 2011: Postdoctoral researcher, MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, Edinburgh
  • 2006 - 2008: Research technician, Centre for Reproductive Biology, University of Edinburgh
  • 2005: PhD, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • 2000: MSc in Biology, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Research Theme


My current research interests are:

  1. The fetal origins of the most common human male reproductive disorders of newborn and young adult males, which is also called 'Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome'. 
  2. A general and basic understanding of the development and function of the testis and male reproductive tract and how physiology, endocrinology, biochemistry and molecular biology play their parts in this development and how mis-development could result in male reproductive health disorders.
  3. Effects of environmental chemical exposures and lifestyle factors on the development of the testis, the reproductive tract and their functions, which affects spermatogenesis and fertility.
  4. Fetal programming of adult (male) diseases, focussing on male reproductive health and function.
  5. Male reproductive toxicology.
  6. miRNA signalling in testis development and the origins of male reproductive health disorders.


  • 2013: Society for Endocrinology Early Career Grant, £9,810: “Fetal testis function during masculinisation: investigating the role of microRNAs using next generation sequencing”
  • 2017: Cefic (European Chemical Industry Council), €165,000: “A systematic comparison of the effects of in utero DBP and DINP exposure on the male reproductive tract in fetal and adult Wistar rats”
  • 2017: Society for Reproduction and Fertility Early Career Researcher Scholarship £12,500: “Human masculinisation disorders: investigation of mechanistic origins using an animal model”


Selected publications

Lara NLM, van den Driesche S, Macpherson S, França LR and Sharpe RM. (2017). Dibutyl phthalate induced testicular dysgenesis originates after seminiferous cord formation in rats. Sci. Rep. 7, 2521.

Van den Driesche S*, Kilcoyne KR*, Wagner I, Rebourcet D, Boyle A, Mitchell R, McKinnell C, Macpherson S, Donat R, Shukla CJ, Jorgensen A, Rajpert-De Meyts E, Skakkebaek NE and Sharpe RM. (2017). Experimentally induced testicular dysgenesis syndrome originates in the masculinization programming window. JCI Insight 2, e91204. * authors contributed equally

Dean A*, van den Driesche S*, Wang Y, McKinnell C, Macpherson S, Eddie, SL, Kinnell H, Hurtado-Gonzalez P, Chambers TJ, Stevenson K, Wolfinger E, Hrabalkova L, Calarrao A, Bayne RAL, Hagen CP, Mitchell RT, Anderson AA and Sharpe RM. (2016). Analgesic exposure in pregnant rats affects fetal germ cell development with inter-generational reproductive consequences. Sci. Rep. 6, 19789. * authors contributed equally

Van den Driesche S*, Macdonald J*, Anderson RA, Johnston ZC, McKinnell C, Chetty T, Smith LB, McKinnell C, Dean A, Homer NZ, Jorgensen A, Camacho-Moll ME, Sharpe RM and Mitchell RT. (2015). Prolonged exposure to acetaminophen reduces testosterone production by the human fetal testis in a xenograft model. Science Trans. Med. 7: 288ra80. * authors contributed equally

Van den Driesche S, McKinnell C, Calarrão A, Kennedy L, Hutchison GR, Hrabalkova L, Jobling MS, Macpherson S, Anderson RA, Sharpe RM and Mitchell RT. (2015). Comparative Effects of Di(n-Butyl) Phthalate Exposure on Fetal Germ Cell Development in the Rat and in Human Fetal Testis Xenografts. Environ. Health Perspect. 123: 223-230.

Rose CM, van den Driesche S, Sharpe RM, Meehan RR and Drake AJ. (2014). Dynamic changes in DNA modification states during late gestation male germ line development in the rat. Epigenetics Chromatin 7: 19.

Van den Driesche S, Sharpe RM, Saunders PT and Mitchell RT. (2014). Regulation of the germ stem cell niche as the foundation for adult spermatogenesis: A role for miRNAs?. Semin. Cell. Dev. Biol. 29: 76-83.

Kilcoyne KR, Smith LB, Atanassova N, Macpherson S, McKinnell C, van den Driesche S, Jobling MS, Chambers TJG, De Gendt K, Verhoeven G, O’Hara L, Platts S, Renato de France L, Lara NLM, Anderson RA and Sharpe RM. (2014). Fetal programming of adult Leydig cell function via androgenic effects on stem/progenitor cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111: E1924-32.

Liu Z*, Lebrin F*, Maring JA*, van den Driesche S*, van der Brink S, van Dinther M, Thorikay M, Martin S, Kobayashi K, Hawinkels LJAC, van Meeteren LA, Pardali E, Korving J, Letarte M, Arthur HM, Theuer C, Goumans MJ, Mummery C and the Dijke P. (2014). ENDOGLIN Is Dispensable for Vasculogenesis, but Required for Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-Induced Angiogenesis. PLoS ONE 9: e86273. * authors contributed equally

Mitchell RT, Sharpe RM, Anderson AA, McKinnell C, Macpherson S, Smith LB, Wallace WHB, Kelnar CJH and van den Driesche S. (2013). Diethylstilboestrol exposure does not reduce testosterone production in human fetal testis xenografts. PLoS ONE 8: e61726.

Rose CM, van den Driesche S, Meehan RR and Drake AJ. (2013). Epigenetic reprogramming: preparing the epigenome for the next generation. Biochem. Soc. Trans. 41: 809-814.

Van den Driesche S, Walker M, McKinnell C, Scott HM, Eddie SL, Mitchell RT, Seckl JR, Drake AJ, Smith LB, Anderson RA and Sharpe RM. (2012). Proposed role for COUP-TFII in regulating fetal Leydig cell steroidogenesis, perturbation of which results in masculinization disorders in rodents. PLoS ONE 7: e37064.

Van den Driesche S, Kolovos P, Platts S, Drake AJ and Sharpe RM. (2012). Inter-relationship between testicular dysgenesis and Leydig cell function in the masculinization programming window in the rat. PLoS ONE 7: e30111.

Mitchell RT, Childs AJ, Anderson RA, van den Driesche S, Saunders PTK, McKinnell C, Wallace WHB, Kelnar CJH and Sharpe RM. (2012). Do phthalates affect steroidogenesis by the human fetal testis? Exposure of human fetal testis xenografts to di-n-butyl phthalate. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab 97: E341-E348.

Sharpe RM, Auharek S, Scott HM, de France LR, Drake AJ and van den Driesche S. (2011). Origin of Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome Disorders in the Masculinization Programming Window: Relevance to Final Testis Size (=Sperm Production). In: Bourguignon J-P, Jégou B, Kerdelhué B, Toppari J, Christen Y. Eds. Multi-System Endocrine Disruption. Pages 161-172. Springer.

Van den Driesche S, Scott HM, MacLeod DJ, Fisken M, Walker M and Sharpe RM. (2011). Relative importance of prenatal and postnatal androgen action in determining growth of the penis and anogenital distance (AGD) in the rat before, during and after puberty. Int. J. Androl. 34: e578-e586.

Jobling MS, Hutchison GR, van den Driesche S and Sharpe RM. (2011). Effects of di(n-butyl) phthalate exposure on foetal rat germ-cell number and differentiation: identification of age-specific windows of vulnerability. Int. J. Androl. 34: e386-e396.