Using metabolomic mass spectrometry imaging to better characterise endometriosis

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Royal Women’s Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Sarah Holdsworth-Carson 0383453728 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Berin Boughton Personal web page

Summary This project aims to spatially image sections of endometriotic lesions to determine what kinds of metabolites are synthesised at the site of disease. This work will have advantageous outcomes for better understanding endometriosis disease mechanisms and for the identification of disease biomarkers.

Project Details

Endometriosis is a heterogenous disease where tissue that normally lines the uterus forms lesions within the pelvic cavity. Approximately 1 in 10 women have the condition. Women endure years of delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, repeated surgeries and a roller-coaster of trial and error for pharmacological control of symptoms because there are no reliable non-invasive diagnostic tests for endometriosis.

Pain is the predominant feature of endometriosis.  Women exhibit a variety of unspecified combinations of pain symptoms; menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) occurs in >90% of women and dyspareunia and non-menstrual chronic pelvic pain occur in 40-60% of women with endometriosis-associated pain. However, pelvic pain is not clinically diagnostic of endometriosis.  Invasive surgical visualisation of lesions by laparoscopy remains the standard for endometriosis diagnosis. However, women with endometriosis endure a diagnostic delay of 4-11 years from symptom onset to diagnosis, due to normalisation of symptoms, common or ambiguous symptoms, and inadequate diagnostic tools.

To identify non-invasive diagnostic biomarkers, more attention should be paid to the diagnostic feature of endometriosis - lesions.  Without lesions, there would be no disease and no associated reduction in the quality of life.  Using mass spectrometry imaging on clinically characterised samples, the spatial metabolomic profiles of lesions will be explored for lesion-specific biomarkers.  No one has applied mass spectrometry imaging to endometriotic lesions; this innovative approach will interrogate the site of disease at levels never explored before in endometriosis.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Women's Health

Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Research Node

Royal Women’s Hospital

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