The Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) offers travel and secondment grants to students and researchers who are working in PCOS addressing the CRE research priority areas of:
- PCOS diagnosis
- Biological origins, aetiology and pathology of PCOS
- The natural history of PCOS
- Fertility treatments in PCOS
- Lifestyle and pharmaceutical interventions in PCOS
- Emotional wellbeing in women with PCOS
- Transfer of PCOS research into health policy and practice
Here are final reports from a couple of our students outlining the ways in which the conference attendance, overseas visit or secondment enhanced their research activities.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the leading cause of an ovulatory infertility. Women with PCOS often turn to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) if they are unable to achieve a pregnancy with ovulation induction agents. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to compare treatment outcomes between women with and without PCOS undergoing ART treatments. We searched databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, CINAHL and NIH and ANZ Clinical Trials to identify studies of women receiving fertility treatments published in English until December 2016. We included studies if the population was undergoing an invasive ART procedure (e.g. IVF, ICSI) and outcomes were reported separately for women with clinically-verified PCOS and women without PCOS. We excluded studies if ovulation induction was the sole fertility treatment used. We included 88 studies that met the inclusion criteria. The review found that while women with PCOS have similar pregnancy and livebirth rates to other women having ART, they have increased risks of complications such as OHSS and miscarriage. Future studies are needed to clarify whether women with PCOS have any additional need for psychosocial support whilst undergoing ART treatment.
I received the CRE PCOS travel grant to attend the Joint Scientific Meeting of The Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS) and the Obesity Surgery Society of Australia and New Zealand (OSSANZ) in conjunction with Asia Oceania Association of Studies for Obesity (AOASO) that was held at the Adelaide Convention and Exhibition Centre from 4-6th October 2017. I presented a poster on metabolic syndrome in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and co-chaired a concurrent session on life course perspective in obesity research with Associate Professor Lisa Moran. My study reported on a three-fold increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome in women with PCOS, which was partly explained by adiposity and insulin resistance. It was incredibly useful for my clinical and research practice to receive the latest evidence on ‘old’ controversies such as very-low-energy diet or meal replacements, as well as some new arrivals on the scene, such as intermittent fasting, sleep and high intensity interval training. Evidence from the GUSTO trials reminded me that obesity interventions in women of reproductive age is interlinked with early childhood obesity. An excellent presentation by Associate Professor Alison Hayes showed through her validated models that obesity intervention on young adults (as opposed to older adult) would yield the greatest effect on obesity prevalence in Australia. Knowing the weight gain prevalence and trajectory in young women, this was hardly a surprise. Considering that most of current clinical and behavioural science in nutrition and weight loss is built on middle-age adults (who has the time to volunteer for clinical trials), I think it is high time we focus on younger adults, such as women of reproductive age, to slow the tide of obesity into future generations.
Attending the Society for Reproductive Biology (SRB) Annual Conference allowed me to learn about the many advances in the area of Reproductive Biology and specifically about the ongoing research in PCOS. I was also able to network with both junior and senior scientists and have interesting conversations that lead to exciting ideas for the progress of my research. Furthermore, addressing my research in front of peers lead me to improve my presentation skills and inform the audience about the importance of diet and how it can significantly ameliorate or aggravate various features of PCOS. In addition, the conference had organised a career development workshop which allowed me to learn about how to stay in Academia and the opportunities and challenges to continue on such career path. They also provided a professional development lecture for students that taught me how media, when used in the correct way, can further teach communities about science and its impact. Overall, attending SRB was a gratifying and knowledge enhancing experience that would not have been possible for me to attend without the support of the Centre for Research Excellence in PCOS.