Dr. Barbara Guinn is looking to find ways for a faster diagnosis of endometriosis. She tells us about the women who inspire her to pursue her work and why it’s so important.
My work is focused on endometriosis, a condition that affects 1 in 10 women causing significant physical and mental repercussions. Endometriosis is caused by the presence of the womb lining in places other than the womb, such as the outside of the ovaries, bowel and occasionally even the lungs. When women with endometriosis have their monthly bleed there is nowhere for the blood to go and this can cause a lot of pain, impacting fertility and normal life, including the ability to work.
Tests that enable earlier detection of endometriosis would significantly improve the quality of life of sufferers and save them, and the NHS, time and money. We are working to identify biomarkers that are both sensitive and specific for endometriosis to allow clinicians to identify it sooner.
Patients with endometriosis are my biggest inspiration. I have met a number of women who are sufferers, including those who have set up the Endometriosis Foundation. Despite their own struggles, they are kind and give advice about the many impacts endometriosis has on their lives and what has helped them. They work tirelessly to share information and support each other. It's a lovely community and seeing the terrible pain this disease causes, I would really like to try to make a difference.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?
A: Determination. A project can take a long time from start to finish, but along the way, we hope to gain a better understanding of the biology that underlies endometriosis, the immunology that could help us find new treatments.