Penny Whiley from the Testis Development and Male Germ Cell Biology Research Group at Hudson Institute

Penny Whiley


PhD student

Area of study:

Male reproduction, with a focus on activin and stem cells

Year of enrolment:


Why did you choose Hudson Institute and your research group?

Having worked at Hudson Institute as a Research Assistant for 4 years before starting my PhD, I knew what a great environment it was before I began. Hudson Institute has excellent facilities, fosters collaboration between research groups, and its scientists are passionate about being leaders in medical research.

What is your research about and what do you hope to achieve?

Male reproductive health has fallen over the past 4 decades, with decreased sperm counts and increased incidences of testicular cancer in young men. Life-long sperm production and male fertility requires ongoing multiplication and differentiation of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), processes reliant on appropriately timed exposure to growth factors. Disruptions, including damage, chemical insult or disease that result in inappropriately high levels of key signalling factors such as activin A, can result in spermatogenic failure and infertility. My research investigates how activin A contributes to the signalling between cells that establish and maintain SSCs in the developing and mature testis, with the goal of understanding how changes in activin A may lead to infertility and testicular germ cell tumours.

What is it like being a student at Hudson Institute?

Being a student at Hudson Institute has been an incredibly positive experience. The environment is both supportive of my thesis research and allows me to develop practical skills that are useful in my future career. The active student society (HISS) organises regular social events, which are a great opportunity to meet fellow students and build lifelong friendships.