What is your field of medical research?
My main research interests are in endometrial function and dysfunction and how the latter may contribute to endometrial pathologies, such as endometriosis.
Why is your research in Endometriosis needed?
Patients with endometriosis have really drawn the short straw. It takes a long time to get a diagnosis and even when they do, their treatment options are pretty limited and sometimes aren’t suitable for many patients. New treatments are drastically needed. But in order to develop new treatments, we need to have a better understanding of the disease itself.
Can you tell us about a project you’re working on at the moment?
I am working on two different projects that are trying to understand how different cell types may contribute to the disease. One of those projects is looking at endometrial stem cells and how they might contribute to the formation and survival of lesions in the peritoneal cavity. The other is looking at inflammation in the peritoneal cavity and in the lesions themselves and how we might be able to regulate the immune system to fight lesion growth.
It can be easy to get bogged down in the day to day comings and goings of your research and forget why you are actually doing it. Pre-pandemic I was at a personal development course and ended up chatting to a lady that was also a course participant. I mentioned to her that I was a researcher, researching endometriosis. Her eyes lit up and she told me that her and her daughter are endometriosis sufferers. She was so excited to hear about my research and she couldn’t wait to get home and tell her daughter that someone out there was trying to help her.
It was an incredible reminder of why we show up to work every day. Two years on I still use them as my motivation to drive my research forward. Every little win in the lab is another step closer to bringing them some relief.
What excites you about your research?
No two days are the same in research, which is one of the reasons I love being a scientist. I’ve always been a problem solver and medical research allows me to solve problems every day!
What brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always had a fascination with how the human body works. In my undergrad I took a reproductive biology module and I was hooked. I did my Honours and Masters projects in polycystic ovarian syndrome and I thought would keep doing ovary-based research but I was awarded a PhD scholarship in an endometrium-based lab and I’ve never looked back. It’s probably the most incredible tissue in the body (but I’m probably a little biased!)