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

  • Distinguished Scientist, Hudson Institute
  • Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor, FAA, FTSE, Monash University
  • Emeritus Professor, Monash University
  • Role: Distinguished Scientist, Hudson Institute

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.

Selected publications

  • de Kretser DM (1969) Ultrastructural features of human spermiogenesis Z Zellforsch 98:477-505.

  • de Kretser DM, Catt KJ & Paulsen CA (1971) Studies on the in vitro testicular binding of iodinated luteinizing hormone in rats. Endocrinology 88:332-337.

  • Lee VWK, Keogh EJ, Burger EJ, Hudson B, de Kretser DM (1976) Studies on the relationship between FSH and germ cells: Evidence for selective suppression of FSH by testicular extracts. J Reprod Fert Suppl 24:1-15.

  • Holdsworth S, Atkins RC, de Kretser DM (1977) The pituitary-testicular axis in men with chronic renal failure. New Engl J Med 296:1245-1249.

  • Rich KA, Kerr JB,  de Kretser DM (1979) Evidence for Leydig cell dysfunction in rats with seminiferous tubule damage. Mol Cell Endocrinol 13:123-135.

  • Kerr JB, Rich KA,  de Kretser DM (1979) The effects of experimental cryptorchidism on the ultrastructure and function of the Sertoli cell and peritubular tissue in the rat testis. Biol Reprod 21:823-838.

  • Le Gac F, de Kretser DM (1982) Inhibin production by Sertoli cell cultures. Mol Cell Endocrinol 28:487-498.

  • Au CL, Robertson DM, de Kretser DM (1984) Relationship between testicular inhibin content and serum FSH concentrations in rats after bilateral efferent duct ligation. J Reprod Fert 72:351-356.

  • Robertson DM, Foulds LM, Leversha L, Morgan FJ, Hearn MTW, Burger HG, Wettenhall REH, de Kretser DM (1985) Isolation of inhibin from bovine follicular fluid. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 126:220-226.

  • Wilton LJ, Teichtahl H, Temple-Smith PD, de Kretser DM (1985) Structural heterogeneity of the axonemes of respiratory cilia and sperm flagella in normal men. J Clin Invest 75:825-831.

  • Forage RG, Ring JM, Brown RW, McInerney BV, Cobon GS, Gregson RP, Robertson DM, Morgan FJ, Hearn MTW, Findlay JK, Wettenhall REH, Burger HG & de Kretser DM (1986) Cloning and sequence analysis of cDNA species coding for the two subunits of inhibin from bovine follicular fluid. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 83:3091-3095.

  • Robertson DM, Klein R, de Vos F, McLachlan RI, Wettenhall R, Hearn MTW, de Kretser DM (1987) The isolation of polypeptides with FSH suppressing activity from bFF which are structurally different to inhibin. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 149:744-749.

  • de Kretser DM, McLachlan RI, Robertson DM & Burger HG (1989) Serum inhibin levels in normal men and men with testicular disorders. J Endocrinol 120:517-523.

  • Wilton LJ, Teichtahl H, Temple-Smith PD, Johnson WR, de Kretser DM (1990). Young’s syndrome (Obstructive azoospermia and chronic sinobronchial infection): A quantitative study of axonemal ultrastructure and function. Fert Steril 55:144-151.

  • Sun YT, Wreford NG, Robertson DM, de Kretser DM (1990) Quantitative cytological studies of spermatogenesis in intact and hypophysectomized rats: identification of androgen-dependent stages. Endocrinology 127:1215-1223.

  • Yohkaichiya T, Polson D, McLachlan V, Healy DL, de Kretser DM (1993) Serum immunoactive inhibin levels in early pregnancy following in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer: evidence for an ovarian source of inhibin and assessment of the value of inhibin measurements in predicting outcome of pregnancy. Fert Steril 5:1081-1089.

  • Wongprasartsuk S, Jenkin G, McFarlane JR, Goodman M,  de Kretser DM (1994) Inhibin and follistatin concentrations in foetal tissues and fluids during gestation in sheep: Evidence for activin in amniotic fluid. J Endocrinol 141:219-229.

  • de Kretser DM, Burger HG (1997) The Y Chromosome and Spermatogenesis. New England J of Med 336:576-578.

  • Holden CA, McLachlan RI, Pitts M, Cumming R, Wittert G, Agius P, Handelsman DJ, de Kretser DM. (2005) Men in Australia, Telephone Survey (MATeS) I: A national survey of the reproductive health and concerns of middle aged and older Australian men. The Lancet 366:218-224.

  • Jones KL, Mansell A, Patella S, Scott BJ, Hedger MP, de Kretser DM, Phillips DJ (2007) Activin A is a critical component of the inflammatory response and, its binding protein follistatin, reduces mortality in endotoxemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 104:16239-16244.

  • de Kretser DM (2010) Determinants of male health: the interaction of biological and social factors. Asian J Androl 12:291-297.

  • de Kretser DM, O’Hehir RE, Hardy CL, Hedger MP (2012) The roles of activin A and its binding protein, follistatin, in inflammation and tissue repair. Mol Cell Endocrinol 359:101-6.

  • de Kretser DM, Bensley JG, Pettila V, Linko R, Hedger MP, Hayward S, Allan CA, McLachlan RI, Ludlow H, Phillips DJ (2013) Serum activin A and B levels predict outcome in patients with acute respiratory failure: a prospective cohort study. Critical Care 17:R263.

  • O’Donnell L, Stanton PG, de Kretser DM (2017) Endocrinology of the male reproductive system and spermatogenesis. In: De Groot LJ, Chrousos G, Dungan K, Feingold KR, Grossman A, Hershman JM, Koch C, Korbonits M, McLachlan R, New M, Purnell J, Rebar R, Singer F, Vinik A, editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): Inc 2000-2016 Dec 18. Review.