Professor David de Kretser AC, FAA FTSE MBBS MD FRACP, Director Emeritus

Professor David de Kretser AC is a member of the Centre for Reproductive Health.


Professor de Kretser is a reproductive endocrinologist whose appointments at Monash have included Professor of Anatomy, the founding Director of the Monash Institute of Medical Research and the Associate Dean for Biotechnology Development.

Following completion of his medical degree, he undertook a research-based Doctorate of Medicine entitled ‘Studies on the structure and function of the human testis’. A NIH postdoctoral fellowship took him to the University of Washington in Seattle combining both chemical and research training in Endocrinology. He returned to a combined appointment in the Department of Medicine and Anatomy at Monash University and was appointed a full Professor in 1978. In 1991 he established the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development now known as Hudson Institute of Medical Research. For many years he participated in the WHO Special Program in Human Reproduction which utilised his teaching skills in many countries.

Following a term as the 28th Governor of Victoria from 2006 to 2011, he has returned to pursue research as a Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He has supervised many PhD students from both local and international institutions and has had many post-doctoral fellows from overseas.

He has published 501 papers in peer-reviewed journals and 163 written chapters in learned textbooks and proceedings of meetings. His reproductive research program encompasses genetic causes of male infertility, control systems involved in ovulatory mechanisms and exploring novel causes of developmental abnormalities of the genitalia. Together with his colleagues, their collective work led to the purification of inhibin, a feedback regulator of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland. Further, their studies also isolated follistatin, which binds and modulates activin A, a stimulator of FSH.

His work demonstrated that activin A is a key proinflammatory cytokine and stimulator of fibrosis. Thus follistatin is an anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic protein, properties that have led to its development as a therapeutic with great potential for treating many patients with diseases such as cystic fibrosis. He also has an interest in community and professional education in male reproductive health and founded Andrology Australia which provides the educational framework.

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