Marilyn Renfree
Ian Potter Professor of Zoology
Reproduction, Conservation & Developmental Biology, especially of Marsupials
Research Group
Reproduction & Development
Room 108
Tel +61 3 83444376

ProfileResearchStudents & PostdocsTeachingAdministrationPublication



Marilyn graduated of the Australian National University and completed her PhD under the supervision of Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe. She subsequently held a Fulbright, postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tennessee, a Ford Foundation Fellowship at the ARC Institute of Animal Genetics, University of Edinburgh before becoming a foundation member of staff of Murdoch University.  She resigned her Associate Professor position to move to Monash  University  as a National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellow from 1982-1991. She was appointed to the Ian Potter Chair of Zoology and Head of Department at the University of Melbourne, a position she held from 1991-2003. She became a Laureate Professor of the University in 2002, and in 2003 was awarded a Federation Fellowship. She has received the Gottschalk Medal (Australian Academy of Science), the Mueller Medal (ANZAAS) and the Gold Conservation Medal for 2000 of the Zoological Society of San Diego. She received the Whitley Book award in 1987 with Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe for their textbook Reproductive Physiology of Marsupials. She was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1997, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Biology in 1998, was Chair of the Society for Reproductive Biology 1997-2000 and the Australian Antarctic Division’s Ethics Committee from1997-2003, and currently serves on the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes Committee.

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The central focus of research in my laboratory is to understand the control of reproduction and development in mammals. We study a wide range of mammals, from wallabies to women, but I have special interests in the Australian mammalian fauna, particularly marsupials and monotremes and the evolution of reproduction. Reproductive projects funded by the ARC we are currently conducting are on physiology and endocrinology of parturition, the uterine, hormonal and metabolic control of embryonic diapause, embryo culture, the lactational and seasonal control of breeding and biology of germ cells. We have a large NHMRC funded program on the developmental biology of sexual differentiation in marsupials and the genes and hormones that control male and female development. We also have an ARC and ARC SPIRT supported program on conservation and fertility control of macropodid marsupials.

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Students & Postdocs

Graduate students
Eleanor Ager,  Natalie Calatayud,Kenneth Chung, Yirmed Demeke, Jane Fenelon,Melissa Gamat, Yanqui Hu, Emily Hynes, ANdrew Greenfield, Brandon Menzies,
Richard Moyle, Nanette Schneider

Honours students

Fiona MacDonald, Lucien MacMahon 

Postdoctoral Fellows
Dr Andrew Pask
Dr Danielle Hickford
Dr Hongshi Yu
Dr Natasa Sankovic 

Research Officer
Sue Osborn

Research  and Technical Assistants

Helen Gehring

Kerry Martin 

Scott Brownlees 

Prof R.R. Behringer
Prof A. McLaren
Assoc Prof G Shaw
Dr TP Fletcher
Prof JM Graves
Prof DW Cooper
Prof R.V. Short
Prof P.D. Temple-Smith
Prof J.D. Wilson
Prof Fumi Ishino
Prof Asao Fujiyama 

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Field Biology/Biology of Marsupials and Monotremes
Developmental Biology
Bachelor of Biomedical Science Stream 5: Reproductive and Developmental Biology

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Member, Minister for the Environment’s Scientific Committee on the use of Wildlife
Chair, Australian Antarctic Division’s Animal Ethics Committee
Member, Council of the Australian Academy of Science
Member, Scholarships Committee
Member, PhD Committee School of Graduate Studies
Member, Academic Board
Member, Promotions Panel (Medicine & Veterinary Science)
Member, Promotions Panel (Science)
Member, Faculty of Science
Ex officio member, all Departmental committees

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Tyndale-Biscoe, C.H. & Renfree, M.B. (1987) Reproductive Physiology of Marsupials, Cambridge University Press. 476 pp.

Renfree, M.B. (1993) Ontogeny, genetic control and phylogeny of female reproduction in monotreme and therian mammals. In: Mammal Phylogeny Eds. F.S. Szalay, J.J. Novacek and M.C. McKenna, Springer-Verlag, New York. pp 4-20.

Renfree, M.B., Harry, J.L. & Shaw, G. (1995) The marsupial male: a role model for sexual development. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B. 350: 243-251.

Whitworth, D.J., Shaw, G. & Renfree, M.B. (1996) Gonadal sex reversal of the developing marsupial ovary in vivo and in vitro. Development 122: 4057-4063.

Gaeth A., Short, R.V. & Renfree, M.B. (1999) The developing renal, reproductive and respiratory systems of the African elephant suggest an aquatic ancestry. PNAS 96 (10):5555-5558.

Wilson, J.D., George, F.W., Shaw, G., & Renfree, M.B. (1999) Virilisation of the male pouch young of the tammar wallaby does not appear to be mediated by plasma androgens. Biol. Reprod. 61: 471-475

Renfree, M.B. & Shaw G. (2000) Diapause. Annual Review of Physiology 62:.353-375.

Renfree, M.B. & Blanden, D.R. (2000) Progesterone and oestrogen receptors in the female genital tract throughout pregnancy of the tammar wallaby. J. Reprod. Fert 119: 121-128

Shaw, G., Renfree, M.B., Leihy, M.W., Shackleton, C.H.L., Roitman, E. & Wilson, J.D. (2000) Prostate formation in a marsupial is mediated by the testicular androgen 5a-androstane-3a,17b-diol. PNAS 97: 12256-12259

Pask, A., Renfree, M.B. and Graves, J.A.M. (2000) The human sex reversing ATRX gene has a homologue on the marsupial Y chromosome; implications for the evolution of mammalian sex determination. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci 97:13198-13202

Renfree, M.B. & Shaw, G. (2000) Germ cells, gonads and sex reversal in marsupials. Int. J. Develop 45: 553-563

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Further Publications: PubMed Search

Last modified: 28 March 2007