We strongly believe that collaborative research is essential for scientific advances. Over the years we have very successfully engaged in many collaborations within the Department, the University of Oxford, nationally and internationally.
Together with colleagues from Harvard University and the World Endometriosis Research Foundation, we recently initiated a worldwide collaboration, the WERF EPHect project, aimed at the harmonisation and standardisation of phenotypic data and biological sample collection and processing in endometriosis research. This global effort involved 30+ research centres and 3 industrial partners. Combining existing evidence and expert opinions resulted in the publication of protocols that are now the standard and form the basis for endometriosis research internationally. These freely available protocols are regularly updated as new evidence arises.
Nationally we are part of the UK Endometriosis Network. Regular meetings involving groups interested in basic, translational and clinical endometriosis research take place bi-annually to foster exchange of scientific ideas and encourage further collaborations between centres. Currently, the Network involves centres in Oxford, London (UCLH), Aberdeen, Liverpool and Edinburgh, but is explicitly open to anyone within the UK interested in advancing endometriosis research.
We have also a strong record of collaborative links with pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies. For instance, Oxford University signed a collaborative agreement with Bayer HealthCare on a programme of work to discover new drug targets for endometriosis and uterine fibroids. We play a key role in providing expertise as well as clinical data and samples for the work, in which we collaborate closely with the Target Discovery Institute, the Botnar Research Centre and the Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB).
Together with investigators at the QIMR Berghofer Institute for Medical Research in Brisbane and Harvard University, we have founded the International Endogene Consortium (IEC), which aims to improve understanding of endometriosis through large-scale genetic studies. With the IEC, we have discovered 7 out of the 9 known genetic variants associated with endometriosis to date. These studies have cemented the role of genetics in the development and establishment of the disease, and are shedding new light on causal biological pathways and potential subtypes of disease – important information for drug target discovery. Over the years the IEC has been expanding, and we are actively looking for further research groups with genetic data on women with endometriosis.
Other international collaborations include groups at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA), Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, USA), the University of Tartu (Estonia), the University of Liverpool and the Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences (Puerto Rico).