Dr Daniel Bird, BSc (Hons) PhD

Dr Daniel Bird received in PhD from Monash University in 2009, working with Associate Professor Tim Cole at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. During this time his work explored how glucocorticoid steroid hormone and cAMP molecular signalling function to mature the developing lungs in preparation for breathing air at birth. Using a conditional gene knockout approach in mice, he showed how glucocorticoid and cAMP protein receptors mediate this molecular signalling in specific cell layers of the lung, and thin the interstitial tissue to allow for efficient gas exchange between the air and the bloodstream. After gaining his PhD, Dr Bird continued his work at Monash University, expanding his focus to also investigate the role of novel steroid modifier enzymes in lung, brain and reproductive tissues.

In 2015, Dr Bird joined the laboratory of Professor Vincent Harley to study the role of Fibroblast Growth Factors (FGFs) in sexual fate choice within the developing gonads. His prior experience in developmental biology quickly translated into seminal work in the reproductive field, redefining how FGF9 signalling functions within the testicular-determining network.

His current interest now involves investigating a novel link between testicular and skeletal development. His most recent discovery indicates that human synostosis (premature bone fusions)-causing FGF9 gene mutations also impair testicular development when modelled in mice. These findings therefore have important reproductive implications for the clinical management of synostosis patients.

Together, his work in the developing testis underpins a clinical aim; to identify novel genes and molecular mechanisms which are dysregulated in individuals with ‘Disorders of Sex Development’ (DSDs). Ultimately, this will increase the rate of molecular diagnosis (as low as 40% for certain DSD subtypes) and in turn improve clinical management for DSD patients.

Dr Bird’s work is funded by an NHMRC project grant and an NHMRC Program Grant.


  • Steroid hormones
  • Mouse developmental biology
  • Tissue morphogenesis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Histology
  • Gene expression analysis

Selected publications

  • Bagheri-Fam S, Bird AD*, Zhao L, Ryan J, Yong M, Wilhelm D, Koopman P, Eswarakumar J, Harley V (2017) Testis determination requires a specific FGFR2 isoform to repress FOXL2. Endocrinology 158(11):3832-3843.
    This publication was selected as the feature article for the November 2017 issue of Endocrinology, warranted a separate “News & Views” commentary article, and was chosen for the “Best of 2017 special collection” within the Endocrine Society journals. Furthermore, I was invited to produce a 3-min video explaining the main findings of this study, which has been disseminated online via Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQNteR-LNxE).

  • Sreenivasan R, Ludbrook L, Fisher B, Declosmenil F, Knower K, Croft B, Bird AD, Bashamboo A, Sinclair A, Koopman P, McElreavey K, Poulat F, Harley V (2018) Mutant NR5A1/SF-1 in patients with disorders of sex development shows defective activation of the SOX9 TESCO enhancer. Human Mutation 39(12):1861-1874.

  • Bird AD*, Greatorex S*, Reser D, Lavery, G, Cole TJ (2017) Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase HSD1L is localised to the pituitary–gonadal axis of primates. Endocrine Connections 6(7):489-499.

  • Antony N, McDougall AR, Mantamadiotis T, Cole, TJ*, Bird AD* (2016) Creb1 regulates late stage mammalian lung development via respiratory epithelial and mesenchymal-independent mechanisms. Scientific Reports 6:25569

  • Bird AD, McDougall AR, Seow BK, Hooper SB, Cole TJ (2015) Minireview: Glucocorticoid Regulation of Lung Development: Lessons Learned From Conditional GR Knockout Mice. Mol Endocrinol 29(2):158-71

  • Bird AD*, Choo YL*, Hooper SB, McDougall AR, Cole TJ (2014) Mesenchymal Glucocorticoid Receptor Regulates Development of Multiple Cell Layers of the Mouse Lung. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 50(2):419-28.
    This publication was selected as winner of the Endocrine Society of Australia Servier Young Investigator Award, 2014.