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Meet the researchers

Dr Nicola Tempest, Centre for Women’s Health, Liverpool Women’s Hospital

Nicola TempestResearch Training Fellowship: £199,987 over three years

Dr Tempest’s project aims to discover the location of stem cells in the lining of the womb in order to develop preventative strategies and new treatments for diseases such as endometriosis and womb cancer.

She explains: “Stem cells are unspecialised biological cells that can generate new cells with highly specialised functions. We think that gynaecological disease results when stem cells in the womb function abnormally. We will be analysing tissue samples from women who have had hysterectomies to find out more about where these stem cells are found and how they work.”

Dr Alice Hurrell, Whipps Cross University Hospital, London

Alice HurrellEntry-level Scholarship: £19,998 over one year

Dr Hurrell is investigating the mother’s immune system and how it affects her blood vessels in order to develop new treatments for pre-eclampsia.

“Pre-eclampsia affects 5% of first-time pregnancies and a major cause of illness in mothers and babies worldwide,” says Dr Hurrell. “In pre-eclampsia, evidence suggests that the mother’s immune system is different from that of healthy pregnant women. And, surprisingly, pre-eclampsia is less common in women who smoke. Our project is examining the differences in the immune systems of healthy pregnant women, women at high risk of pre-eclampsia, women who smoke and women who are not pregnant, measuring levels of immune cells and differences in blood flow in the forearm. If the immune cell levels correlate with blood vessel responses, we will have identified a novel link between maternal immunity and the hypertension of pre-eclampsia. We can then more easily target the disease.”