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The University of Southampton
(023) 8120 8663

Professor Rohan Lewis BSc (Hons), PhD

Professor of Placental and Integrative Physiology

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Rohan Lewis is Professor in Placental and Integrative Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Prof Lewis completed his PhD in University of Auckland, New Zealand, before undertaking postdoctoral work at the University of Cambridge and then the University of Southampton. In 2005 he was appointed to a lectureship in physiology at Southampton, in 2012 Reader in Physiology and in 2016 Professor in Placental and Integrative Physiology. 
Prof Lewis leads the Placental Research Laboratory in Southampton which is focused on understanding how placenta supports the growth of a healthy fetus and how placental dysfunction may impact on the health throughout the life course. The placental research group is taking systems biology approach to understanding placental function. This seeks to both understand the mechanisms underlying specific placental functions and how these mechanisms interact to form a functioning placenta and produce a healthy baby.


BSc in Biochemistry, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
BSc Hons. in Biochemistry, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand 
PhD, Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, New Zealand
PG Cert in Academic Practice (Education), University of Southampton, UK.

Appointments held

Research Associate, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Cambridge 1998-2000

Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Southampton 2000-2005

Research interests

Computational Modelling of Placental Function

In order to understand why some babies grow poorly in the womb, we need to understand how the different factors underlying placental function work together as a system. While we have a good understanding, in principle, of the mechanisms which transport nutrients across biological membranes this does not allow us to predict how these mechanisms work together to provide the fetus with nutrients. Dr Lewis is leading a BBSRC funded project based in Southampton (BB/I011315/1) and Manchester (BB/I011250/1) which is modelling placental amino acid transport and as part of an EU-funded project we are modelling placental fatty acid transport across the placenta. The placenta also transports drugs and toxins out of the fetus and Dr Lewis is leading a BBSRC funded project (BB/L020823/1) to better understand and model these transporters.

Mechanisms and Regulation of Placental Nutrient Transport

The first step in understanding how placental nutrient transfer regulates fetal growth is to determine the mechanisms underlying placental function. The Placental Research Group in Southampton has made significant progress in this area, in particularly in explaining how amino acids are transferred across the placenta. We are currently expanding our understanding of these mechanisms and investigating how those we have already identified are regulated at the cellular level.

Maternal Environment and Placental Function

Maternal environment may be an important determinant of placental function. This area is of particular interest as environmental factors may be able to be modified to improve placental function and fetal growth. Working with placentas collected from the Southampton Women’s Survey this research has suggested that maternal body composition and maternal pre-pregnancy smoking influence placental function.


2014-2017 BBSRC (BB/L020823/1) Coupling of organic anion transport to the glutamate gradient by OATs and OATPs
2011-2014 BBSRC (BB/I011315/1 and Amino acid transport through the placenta: an experimental and modelling investigation
2012-2017 European union (FP7-289346-EarlyNutrition) Long-term effects of early nutrition on later health


Human Development and Health

Affiliate Department(s)

Human Development and Physiology

Research project(s)

Mathematical modelling of fatty acid transport in the human placenta

Postgraduate student supervision

Simone Perazzolo (Joint with Engineering)
Mildrey Mosquera
Helen Palaiologou
Brogan Ashley 

2016: Nont Panitchob (Joint Engineering)
2014, Emma Lofthouse, PhD
2011, Priscilla Day, PhD

Other responsibilities

2010-2015 Editorial Board of the journal Placenta

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Book Chapters


Journal Special Issue


BM4: Delivers lectures and small group teaching across a broad range of physiology related topics. Coordinates BM4 physiology teaching and is year 2 assessment lead.
BM5: Delivers lectures and small group teaching in the renal and reproductive courses. Supervises 4th year research projects.
School of Life Sciences: Lectures on placental function and the developmental origins of health and disease to 3rd year students.

Personal Tutor for BM students.

Professor Rohan Lewis
Faculty of Medicine
University of Southampton
IDS Building
Mailpoint 887 Southampton General Hospital
Tremona Road
 Southampton SO16 6YD

Room Number: SGH/IDS/MP887

Telephone:(023) 8120 8663

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