Head of Department
Professor of Reproductive & Genomic Epidemiology, Co-Director Endometriosis CaRe Centre.
Nuffield Department of Women’s & Reproductive Health (NDWRH)
Tell us a bit about your role
I am the Head of the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health (NDWRH), which conducts research in four main areas: maternal and fetal health, reproductive medicine & genetics, cancer, and global health. I am also a genetic and reproductive epidemiologist and co-director of the Oxford Endometriosis CaRe centre. My own research interest is focused on understanding the causes of common, gynaecological conditions with a large public health burden, and development of better diagnostic and treatment options. Our work centres in particular on endometriosis - a hormone-dependent condition that can cause severe pelvic pain and infertility - and spans the breadth of basic, clinical, and translational research. We collaborate with many investigators across other MSD Departments and Institutes (as well as globally) and also work closely with our clinical colleagues at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
As a scientist, I am driven by investigating under-recognised conditions that impact large numbers of women globally. Endometriosis affects an estimated 195 million world-wide. I feel privileged to lead an amazing team that conducts research with the aim of improving the lives of so many. As the first female Head of NDWRH in its 80+ year history, I strive to promote an inclusive culture where staff and students thrive and become the best they can be. The team spirit and resourcefulness that people have shown during the Covid-19 pandemic have filled me with much pride, and confidence in the future of our Department as well as the University at large!
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
I am proud to have helped ‘put endometriosis on the map’ globally. Our team has led global collaborative discoveries in the genetic basis of endometriosis, an ongoing endeavour. The insights gained have shaped new avenues of research into the origin of the condition, and informed translational research into new drug targets. Our epidemiological studies across five continents have shown the truly global impact of endometriosis. I also hope that my work goes some way to inspire other women to take an interest or seek a career in science – including my 9-year old twin daughters - if they so wish!
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
I would like to see personalised medicine - currently a tantalising promise - truly come to fruition. I look forward to a time when most diseases can be diagnosed early and easily, and treatments are available that target disease subtypes and consider personal risk-factors. I also look forward to a time when there is true career equality, and we can expect similar numbers of Nobel Prizes to be awarded to women and men!