Dr Annalucia Darbey

Dr Annalucia Darbey

Postdoctoral Research Associate

School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Career Summary



My first experience of research began at the University of Edinburgh where I undertook my degree in Masters in Research in Reproductive Sciences. During this time, I was afforded the opportunity to work under the supervision of Professor Lee Smith investigating the roles of Sertoli cells and using gene editing technologies such as Crispr/Cas9 for the study of Androgen Receptor.

I completed my PhD in 2018, continuing with Professor Lee Smith, as part of the Tissue Repair Programme at the University of Edinburgh. My PhD project was focussed upon the targeting and repair of adult testicular somatic cells through viral gene therapy. Following recruitment to The University of Newcastle as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in 2019, I now continue to investigate deliverable transgenics and their potential applications in the adult testis and wider endocrine systems. Development of this novel technology will permit the investigation of the genetics underpinning male fertility and androgen production and will lead to the development of novel bespoke therapeutics and contraceptives fulfilling a currently unmet need for millions of men worldwide.

Current Research Themes

My current research themes are focussed upon the development of novel technologies for both the investigation and the treatment of male reproductive disorders, including the investigation of alternative options for long lasting male contraceptives. To complement this, I am also investigating novel in vitro models of endocrine organs, which may prove vital for the investigation of new therapeutics in human cells. Therefore, I have a keen interest in deliverable transgenics, viral vectors, nanoparticle technology and 3D printing and biofabrication.

Common approaches: Deliverable Transgenics, Transgenic Mouse Models, "Gene Therapy", Biotechnology, 3D Printing & Biofabrication alongside usual Bio-Molecular Techniques.

Teaching Experience

Whilst at the University of Edinburgh, I was involved in the teaching and supervision of undergraduate students; in particular on the Rebroductive Biology undergraduate course. This included the direct demonstration of techniques in practical lab sessions as well as supervision of tutorial groups through group assignments. Since being appointed at the University of Newcastle, I have lectured on Reproductive Physiology and Development Modules (BIOL3020) and supervised Biotechnology students on 3rd year placement projects. 

If you are a prospective Honours or PhD student and interested in joining the lab, feel free to contact me via email: Annalucia.Darbey@Newcastle.edu.au


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh - Scotland


  • 3D Printing
  • Deliverable Transgenics
  • Gene Therapy
  • Male Reproductive Biology
  • Viral Vectors


  • English (Mother)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
070206 Animal Reproduction 50
110306 Endocrinology 25
100104 Genetically Modified Animals 25

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Chapter (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Rebourcet D, Darbey A, Curley M, O Shaughnessy P, Smith LB, 'Testicular cell selective ablation using diphtheria toxin receptor transgenic mice', Sertoli Cells: Methods and Protocols, Humana Press, New York, NY 203-228 (2018) [B1]
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-7698-0_15
Citations Scopus - 2
Co-authors Lee Smith, Diane Rebourcet

Journal article (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 Rebourcet D, Mackay R, Darbey A, Curley MK, Jørgensen A, Frederiksen H, et al., 'Ablation of the canonical testosterone production pathway via knockout of the steroidogenic enzyme HSD17B3, reveals a novel mechanism of testicular testosterone production', FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, (2020)

© 2020 The Authors. The FASEB Journal published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Male development, fertility, and l... [more]

© 2020 The Authors. The FASEB Journal published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Male development, fertility, and lifelong health are all androgen-dependent. Approximately 95% of circulating testosterone is synthesized by the testis and the final step in this canonical pathway is controlled by the activity of the hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase-17-beta-3 (HSD17B3). To determine the role of HSD17B3 in testosterone production and androgenization during male development and function we have characterized a mouse model lacking HSD17B3. The data reveal that developmental masculinization and fertility are normal in mutant males. Ablation of HSD17B3 inhibits hyperstimulation of testosterone production by hCG, although basal testosterone levels are maintained despite the absence of HSD17B3. Reintroduction of HSD17B3 via gene-delivery to Sertoli cells in adulthood partially rescues the adult phenotype, showing that, as in development, different cell-types in the testis are able to work together to produce testosterone. Together, these data show that HS17B3 acts as a rate-limiting-step for the maximum level of testosterone production by the testis but does not control basal testosterone production. Measurement of other enzymes able to convert androstenedione to testosterone identifies HSD17B12 as a candidate enzyme capable of driving basal testosterone production in the testis. Together, these findings expand our understanding of testosterone production in males.

DOI 10.1096/fj.202000361R
Co-authors Diane Rebourcet
2018 Darbey A, Smith LB, 'Deliverable transgenics & gene therapy possibilities for the testes', Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 468 81-94 (2018) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.mce.2017.11.023
Co-authors Lee Smith
2018 Curley M, Milne L, Smith S, Atanassova N, Rebourcet D, Darbey A, et al., 'Leukemia Inhibitory Factor-Receptor is Dispensable for Prenatal Testis Development but is Required in Sertoli cells for Normal Spermatogenesis in Mice', SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 8 (2018) [C1]
DOI 10.1038/s41598-018-30011-w
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 4
Co-authors Diane Rebourcet, Lee Smith
2017 Rebourcet D, Darbey A, Monteiro A, Soffientini U, Tsai YT, Handel I, et al., 'Sertoli Cell Number Defines and Predicts Germ and Leydig Cell Population Sizes in the Adult Mouse Testis', ENDOCRINOLOGY, 158 2955-2969 (2017) [C1]
DOI 10.1210/en.2017-00196
Citations Scopus - 33Web of Science - 28
Co-authors Lee Smith, Diane Rebourcet
2017 Patel SH, O'Hara L, Atanassova N, Smith SE, Curley MK, Rebourcet D, et al., 'Low-dose tamoxifen treatment in juvenile males has long-term adverse effects on the reproductive system: implications for inducible transgenics.', Scientific Reports, 7 (2017) [C1]
DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-09016-4
Citations Scopus - 11Web of Science - 11
Co-authors Annelouise Gannon, Lee Smith, Diane Rebourcet
Show 2 more journal articles

Dr Annalucia Darbey


Postdoctoral Research Associate
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science

Contact Details

Email annalucia.darbey@newcastle.edu.au