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Prof Melissa Hines
Professor of Psychology, Director of Graduate Education, and Fellow at Churchill College
Research focus:
Hormonal influences on human neural and behavioural development across the lifespan, and interactions between hormones and experience in shaping behaviour. Specific questions being addressed in the lab include how hormone levels during foetal development influence children’s sex-typed toy, playmate and activity preferences; whether children’s cognitive understanding of gender mediates hormonal influences on behavior; how to optimise psychological well being in individuals exposed to atypical hormone environments prenatally, because they have disorders of sex development (DSD).

Dr Carlo Acerini
Senior Lecturer at Department of Paediatrics, and Honorary Consultant Paediatrician in Endocrinology & Diabetes at Addenbrooke's Hospital
Research focus:
The pathophysiology of diabetes and its complications, and the development of new treatment strategies for the management of childhood and adolescence type 1 diabetes; the genetic and environmental determinants of size at birth, post natal growth and risks for future cardio-metabolic disease; hormone-gene-environment interactions and their impact on human reproductive tract development, brain development and behaviour; and the treatment adherence paradigm - factors affecting adherence patterns and behaviours.

Dr Vickie Pasterski
Affiliated Lecturer
0207 467 8325
Research focus:
Pre/perinatal hormone influences on later gender-related behaviour and gender identity; surgical outcomes and psychosexual functioning in disorders of sex development; parental experience of receiving pre- versus post-natal diagnosis of a disorder of sex development; evolution of non-binary gender identities and overlap between autistic traits and gender-related dysphoria. 

Dr Debra Spencer
Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer
Research focus:
Current research interests include studying how individual and family factors, together with factors related to the wider social environment, influence the use of physically aggressive behaviour in children; developing effective research designs for studying how prenatal influences, e.g., gonadal hormones, interact with postnatal experience to shape brain development and behaviour; and optimizing psychological well being in individuals exposed prenatally to atypical hormone environments. I am also currently managing the Cambridge Brain and Behaviour Study (CamBABS), a five-year project designed to assess sex/gender differences in brain structure and behaviour.

Dr Rieko Tadokoro Cuccaro
Research assistant
Working in the Department of Paediatrics at CUH Addenbrooke's Hospital on the Cambridge Brain and Behaviour Study (CamBABS), assisting with patient recruitment.

Dr Miha Constantinescu
Teaching By-Fellow and Director of Studies for PBS at Churchill College, and Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Psychology
Research focus:
Cognitive development in early infancy and gender development. Currently, I am trying to understand why certain cognitive traits show sex differences early in life which then tend to remain stable despite changes in social attitudes. In my PhD and in recent published work, I examined some of the underlying causes of sex differences in mental rotation, focusing on hormonal and parental contributions to infants' mental rotation abilities.

Ellen Robertson
PhD candidate
Research focus:
In rural, northern Albania there remains a highly respected tradition whereby women can live as men. The original purpose of this custom was so that these “sworn virgins” could become the leader and inheritor of their family in the absence of male relatives, since strict traditional gender norms would not allow a typical woman to take on these roles. These sworn virgins adopt masculine dress, manner, roles, and status, while swearing to never marry or have children. Seeing as sworn virgins do not undergo any physical changes when they begin to live as men, their life experiences provide an opportunity to better understand the effects of socialisation and identity on gendered behaviour. In my research, I conduct interviews and surveys with these sworn virgins and other members of their community in order to investigate socio-cognitive aspects of gender. In this process I draw on perspectives such as social role theory, essentialist beliefs theory, and system justification theory.

Karly Drabot
PhD student
Marta Beneda
PhD candidate
Jac profile pic.jpg
Jac Davis
PhD student
Research focus:
Cross-cultural experimental psychology, mechanisms of gender development, complex and dynamic systems in child development, meta-analysis and research synthesis methods.

Rebecca Noorderhaven
PhD student
Research focus:
In my PhD research I look at the effect of early postnatal testosterone on mental rotation in infants at 3 and 5 months, and test how a training program might improve mental rotation ability. My study also explores whether there is a sex difference in Joint Attention in infants between 3-5 months, and I have created a new training method that might improve Joint Attention.

Tim Kung
PhD student
Research focus:
Organising effects of early androgen exposure on gender-related psychopathology; antecedents, correlates, and sequels of childhood gender typicality; well-being of sexual orientation minorities, transgender people, and individuals with intersex conditions; and gender similarities and differences.

Gu Li
PhD candidate
Research focus:
I am interested in the development of sexual orientation from childhood to adulthood. I use secondary data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to identify early predictors of later sexual orientation, and examine early manifestations of sexual orientation. I also conduct online surveys to retrospectively analyse the developmental trajectories of adults of all sexual orientations. My second research interest concerns the relation between sexual orientation and mental health. Emerging evidence suggests that not all sexual and gender minorities are at elevated risk, compared to heterosexual counterparts, for mental health problems; it is important to identify risk and resilience mechanisms underlying this variation. I am currently recruiting participants for the "Cambridge Sex & Love Study," which examines similarities and differences between sexual orientation and romantic orientation. For more information and to register your interest, see

Beth Stevens
Study Co-ordinator
Co-ordinating and scheduling participants for the CamBABS study - for more information and to register your interest, click here.

Rowan Haslam
Undergraduate research assistant
Assisting with an online survey investigating gender minority adults' social adjustment and psychological wellbeing.

Araminta Peters-Corbett
Undergraduate research assistant
Assisting with an online survey investigating gender minority adults' social adjustment and psychological wellbeing.

RSS Feed Latest news

Paper on infants' performance in mental rotation tasks published in Developmental Science

Nov 17, 2017

The GDRC's Dr Miha Constantinescu and Prof Melissa Hines have a paper published in Developmental Science showing a correlation between testosterone and infants' performance in mental rotation tasks.

Prof Hines and Dr Spencer present a talk at EASE meeting

Nov 09, 2017

The East Anglia Society for Endocrinology will meet on Tuesday November 14th at The Rosie Hospital, CUH.

Hormones & Child Behaviour Study update

Oct 24, 2017

The GDRC has produced a newsletter from Melissa Hines' Hormones & Child Behaviour Study, available to read here.

Researching sworn virgins in Albania

Jul 19, 2017

The GDRC's Ellen Robertson is in Albania for four months, studying the traditional practice of women taking a vow of chastity and living as men - becoming 'sworn virgins', or burrneshas.

Talk on analyzing the corpus callosum by Dr Eileen Luders, UCLA

Jul 18, 2017

Join us on Monday 24th July at 12pm for a talk by Dr Eileen Luders, Associate Professor at the Department of Neurology, UCLA, about analyzing the corpus callosum in the human brain.

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