Peter J Duncan

My research focuses on pituitary corticotroph cells and how they regulate the stress response.

Dr Peter J Duncan

Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences

Peter Duncan

Hugh Robson Building 

15 George Square

Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

 Work: +44 (0)131 650 3874


Personal Profile 

  • 2023-Present: Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh.
  • 2015-2023: Postdoctoral Fellow (Shipston lab), University of Edinburgh.
  • 2010-2014: PhD in Physiology (Shipston lab), University of Edinburgh.
  • 2006-2010: BSc (Hons) Pharmacology, University of Edinburgh.


Stress-related illness represents a major burden on health and society. The focus of my research interests is to dissect how the physiological response to stress is regulated at the level of the pituitary gland. The long-term goal is to identify cellular components which can be targeted pharmacologically for therapeutic intervention.

Corticotroph cells are an integral component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which governs the neuroendocrine response to stress. My research to date has focussed on how corticotroph physiology is modulated by chronic stress and subsequent recovery. Additionally, I am interested in sex differences in stress-related illness and how the pituitary corticotroph may play in important contribution.


Selected publications

Duncan PJ, Romanò N, Nair SV, Murray JF, Le Tissier P & Shipston MJ (2023). Sex differences in pituitary corticotroph excitability. Frontiers in Physiology 14, 1-18.

Duncan PJ, McClafferty H, Nolan O, Ding Q, Homer NZ, Le Tissier P, Walker BR, Shipston MJ, Romanò N & Chambers TJG (2022). Corticotroph isolation from Pomc-eGFP mice reveals sustained transcriptional dysregulation characterising a mouse model of glucocorticoid-induced suppression of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis.  Journal of Neuroendocrinology 34, 1-16.

Duncan PJ, Fazli M, Romanò N, Le Tissier P, Bertram R & Shipston MJ (2022). Chronic stress facilitates bursting electrical activity in pituitary corticotrophs. Journal of Physiology 600, 313-332.

Duncan PJ, Bi D, McClafferty H, Chen L, Tian L & Shipston MJ (2019). S-Acylation controls functional coupling of BK channel pore-forming α-subunits and β1-subunits. Journal of Biological Chemistry 294, 12066-12076.

Duncan PJ, Tabak J, Ruth P, Bertram R & Shipston MJ (2016). Glucocorticoids Inhibit CRH/AVP-Evoked Bursting Activity of Male Murine Anterior Pituitary Corticotrophs. Endocrinology 157, 3108-3121.

Duncan PJ & Shipston MJ (2016). BK Channels and the Control of the Pituitary. International Review of Neurobiology 128, 343-368.

Duncan PJ, Şengül S, Tabak J, Ruth P, Bertram R & Shipston MJ (2015). Large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels (BK) promote secretagogue induced transition from spiking to bursting in murine anterior pituitary corticotrophs. Journal of Physiology 593, 1197-1211.


Information for students

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