Edinburgh Research Explorer

Erin Greaves

(Former employee or visitor)

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Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Leeds
Bachelor of Science, University of Bradford

Research Interests

Endometriosis is a chronic oestrogen-dependent inflammatory disease that affects 6-10% of women of reproductive age. It is associated with debilitating pelvic pain, painful periods, and pain during sexual intercourse. It has a significant impact on health-related quality of life and has been estimated to cost the UK £11.7 billion per year. Current treatment strategies for endometriosis are restricted to surgical excision of the lesions or suppression of ovarian function to mimic a premature menopause. In up to 75% of cases, symptoms recur after surgery, and long-term ovarian suppression is often ineffective, suppresses fertility and has unwelcome side effects. There is an unmet clinical need for new treatments for endometriosis.

Endometriosis is the growth of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) on areas outside the uterus, typically the lining of the pelvic cavity (peritoneum). The pain associated with endometriosis is believed to be a result of the growth of new small diameter nerve fibres into the ectopic tissue (endometriosis lesions). We hypothesise that macrophages play a critical role in promoting nerve fibre growth into lesions and activating these nerve fibres thus contributing to endometriosis-associated pain.

The main aims of the research group are:

  1. To characterise the origin and activation state of macrophages present within endometriosis lesions
  2. To determine how macrophages promote nerve growth into lesions and to understand how macrophages activate nerve fibres and contribute to endometriosis-associated pain
  3. To determine how macrophages contribute to central sensitisation and hyperalgesia in endometriosis
  4. To identify new therapeutic targets for endometriosis-associated pain

We hope to shed new light on disease processes that cause endometriosis-associated pain and to contribute to the development of new therapies that may help improve the quality of life for millions of women that suffer from this chronic condition.

Fig.1

Figure 1: The endometrial lining is refluxed through the fallopian tubes into the peritoneal cavity during a phenomenon known as ‘retrograde menstruation’. In 10% of women this material attaches to the lining of the peritoneum to form lesions that characterise the disorder endometriosis. Histological analysis of endometriosis lesions reveals glandular and stromal ‘hallmarks’ similar to the eutopic endometrium. Image provided by Gemma Rundell.

Teaching

Supervision of PhD students – 2 since 2012

Supervision of MSc Students – 5 since 2010 for 10 or 20 week projects including project planning, training, supervision of writing up. All students gained a distinction

Supervision of summer students – 2 in 2014

Undergraduate lectures, 4th Year Reproductive Biology Honours

Tutor, Problem based Learning, Medical Undergraduates

ID: 316399