Susan Wray

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Sue Wray

Sue Wray.jpg
Susan C. Wray
EducationChadderton Grammar School for Girls
Alma materUniversity College London (BSc, PhD)
AwardsJoan Mott Prize Lecture (2006)
Scientific career
FieldsSmooth muscle physiology
Cell signalling[1]
InstitutionsUniversity College London
University of Liverpool
ThesisFactors controlling involution of connective tissue in the uterus (1980)
Doctoral advisorRobert Harkness[citation needed]

Susan C. Wray FMedSci FRCOG MAE[2] is professor of cellular and molecular physiology at the University of Liverpool.[3][1] She also serves as the first vice president of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS)[4] and is president of the Federation of European Physiological Societies (FEPS).[5] She was the founding editor-in-chief of Physiological Reports.[6][7] and is the first editor-in-chief of Current Research in Physiology.[8] She serves as director of the centre of better births in Liverpool Women's Hospital which was opened in 2013 with funding of £2.5 million with the objective of basic scientists working together with clinicians on problems during pregnancy.[9] Along with Zarko Alfirevic [Wikidata], she leads the Harris wellbeing preterm birth centre.[10] Wray is the director of the University of Liverpool Athena SWAN and team leader for the institute of translational medicine.[11] Her primary research interests are in smooth muscle physiology, reproductive medicine and cell signalling.[1][12]


After attending Chadderton Grammar School for Girls, Wray received her Bachelor of Science degree in physiology and, in 1979, her PhD from University College London for research investigating gestational changes in the connective tissue of the uterus.[13]

Career and research[edit]

After postdoctoral research at UCL she moved to the University of Liverpool in 1990[14] where she was promoted to professor in 1996 and served as head of the department of physiology from 2004 to 2008. Wray's early research focused on changes of connective tissue in the uterus during and after pregnancy.[15] She then helped develop spectroscopic methods to characterize metabolism in human neonates.[16] Since moving to Liverpool, she has focused on the relationship between metabolism and function in smooth muscle. In particular, she has elucidated the effects of pH on contractility. In order to elucidate the underlying mechanisms, she performed some of the first measurements of intracellular calcium in smooth muscle. Subsequent work into the relationship between calcium and excitability led to new understanding of the origin of the refractory period in the ureter.[17] Her translational work has led to measurements of lactate to predict labour outcome[18] and to the use of bicarbonate to increase the pH of the mother and thereby increase the strength of uterine contractions, reducing the requirement for caesarean sections.[19] She has also shown that problems of labour experienced by obese mothers can be explained by impaired smooth muscle contractility.[20] In 2015, she demonstrated a novel mechanism whereby repetitive, transient episodes of hypoxia increase uterine contractions during labour.[21] Her work has also investigated the use of plant-derived cyclotides as well as modifications to the natural hormone oxytocin[22] to serve as templates for novel compounds to accelerate labor.[23] Some of her research can be seen in a video of one of her lectures.[24]

Women in Science[edit]

Wray has been engaged with gender equality and mentoring throughout her career. She is an academic champion for the Higher Education Foundation AURORA Women in Leadership Scheme.[25] She gave the inaugural Athena Swan Lecture at Edge Hill University in 2016.[26] She also worked on the SUSTAIN[27] initiative for women in science. With Tilli Tansey she co-edited the book Women physiologists: centenary celebrations and beyond for The Physiological Society which includes forewords by Julia Higgins and Susan Greenfield.[14][28] This book has been used as a source to encourage the writing of more Wikipedia articles about women physiologists. Wikipedia:Meetup/UK/University of Manchester Women in Physiology, October 2019

Awards and honours[edit]

Wray was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2002,[2][29] an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FRCOG) in 2006[30] and a member of the Academia Europaea (MAE) in 2008.[31] She was awarded the Joan Mott Prize Lecture by The Physiological Society in 2006 and elected as an honorary member of the Physiological Society in 2015.[32] In 2012 she was nominated a knowledge hero by the Liverpool Echo'.[33]


  1. ^ a b c Susan Wray publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b "Ordinary Fellows: Professor Susan Wray". The Academy of Medical Sciences.
  3. ^ Susan Wray publications from Europe PubMed Central
  4. ^ "IUPS executive committee".
  5. ^ "Executive Committee FEPS".
  6. ^ "Prof Susan Wray BSc, PhD, FRCOG, FMedSci". University of Liverpool.
  7. ^ "Editor-in-Chief and Deputy appointed for Physiological Reports". Physiology News (89): 8. 2012.
  8. ^ "Current Research in Physiology Editorial Board".
  9. ^ "New £2.5m research centre in Liverpool launched to save babies and improve births". 2013-04-26.
  10. ^ "Harris Programme Grant". 2015-02-16.
  11. ^ "Athena SWAN". 2015-01-18.
  12. ^ Delpy, D T; Cope, M; Zee, P van der; Arridge, S; Wray, S; Wyatt, J (1988). "Estimation of optical pathlength through tissue from direct time of flight measurement". Physics in Medicine and Biology. 33 (12): 1433–1442. Bibcode:1988PMB....33.1433D. doi:10.1088/0031-9155/33/12/008. ISSN 0031-9155. PMID 3237772.
  13. ^ Wray, Susan C. (1980). Factors controlling involution of connective tissue in the uterus. (PhD thesis). Copac 12996362.
  14. ^ a b Wray, Susan; Tansey, Elizabeth, eds. (2015). Women phsysiologists : centenary celebrations and beyond (PDF). London: The Physiological Society. ISBN 9780993341007. OCLC 922032986.
  15. ^ Wray, Susan (1982). "The role of mechanical and hormonal stimuli on uterine involution in the rat". The Journal of Physiology. 328: 1–9. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1982.sp014249. ISSN 0022-3751. PMC 1225643. PMID 7131308.
  16. ^ Wray, S.; Cope, M.; Delpy, D. T.; Wyatt, J. S.; Reynolds, E. O. (1988). "Characterization of the near infrared absorption spectra of cytochrome aa3 and haemoglobin for the non-invasive monitoring of cerebral oxygenation". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 933 (1): 184–192. doi:10.1016/0005-2728(88)90069-2. ISSN 0006-3002. PMID 2831976.
  17. ^ Burdyga, T.; Wray, Susan (2005). "Action potential refractory period in ureter smooth muscle is set by Ca sparks and BK channels". Nature. 436 (7050): 559–562. Bibcode:2005Natur.436..559B. doi:10.1038/nature03834. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 16049489. S2CID 4306942.
  18. ^ Wiberg-Itzel, Eva; Pembe, Andrea B.; Wray, Susan; Wihlbäck, Anna-Carin; Darj, Elisabeth; Hoesli, Irene; Åkerud, Helena (2014). "Level of lactate in amniotic fluid and its relation to the use of oxytocin and adverse neonatal outcome". Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. 93 (1): 80–85. doi:10.1111/aogs.12261. ISSN 1600-0412. PMID 24102442. S2CID 20153031.
  19. ^ Wiberg-Itzel, Eva; Wray, Susan; Åkerud, Helena (2017). "A randomized controlled trial of a new treatment for labor dystocia". The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 31 (17): 2237–2244. doi:10.1080/14767058.2017.1339268. ISSN 1476-4954. PMID 28587493. S2CID 205832304.
  20. ^ Zhang, J.; Bricker, L.; Wray, S.; Quenby, S. (2007). "Poor uterine contractility in obese women". BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 114 (3): 343–348. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2006.01233.x. ISSN 1470-0328. PMID 17261121.
  21. ^ Alotaibi, Mohammed; Arrowsmith, Sarah; Wray, Susan (2015). "Hypoxia-induced force increase (HIFI) is a novel mechanism underlying the strengthening of labor contractions, produced by hypoxic stresses". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112 (31): 9763–9768. Bibcode:2015PNAS..112.9763A. doi:10.1073/pnas.1503497112. ISSN 1091-6490. PMC 4534208. PMID 26195731.
  22. ^ Muttenthaler, Markus; Andersson, Åsa; Vetter, Irina; Menon, Rohit; Busnelli, Marta; Ragnarsson, Lotten; Bergmayr, Christian; Arrowsmith, Sarah; Deuis, Jennifer R. (2017). "Subtle modifications to oxytocin produce ligands that retain potency and improved selectivity across species". Science Signaling. 10 (508): eaan3398. doi:10.1126/scisignal.aan3398. ISSN 1937-9145. PMC 5892705. PMID 29208680.
  23. ^ Koehbach, Johannes; O'Brien, Margaret; Muttenthaler, Markus; Miazzo, Marion; Akcan, Muharrem; Elliott, Alysha G.; Daly, Norelle L.; Harvey, Peta J.; Arrowsmith, Sarah (2013). "Oxytocic plant cyclotides as templates for peptide G protein-coupled receptor ligand design". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110 (52): 21183–21188. Bibcode:2013PNAS..11021183K. doi:10.1073/pnas.1311183110. ISSN 1091-6490. PMC 3876230. PMID 24248349.
  24. ^ The Physiological Society (26 August 2016). "Keynote lecture: Susan Wray" – via YouTube.
  25. ^ "Leadership Foundation: Aurora". Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  26. ^ "Guest Lecture - Professor Susan Wray, University of Liverpool - Events". Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  27. ^ "SUSTAIN". Academy of Medical Sciences. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  28. ^ "Women in physiology".
  29. ^ "Demystifying the uterus for better births - The Academy of Medical Sciences".
  30. ^ "Fellows ad eundem". Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  31. ^ "Academy of Europe: Wray Susan".
  32. ^ "Honorary Members S-Z". The Physiological Society. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  33. ^ "Who is the Liverpool ECHO's Knowledge Hero? Professor Sue Wray from the University of Liverpool". 29 October 2012. Retrieved 2015-11-03.