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Tauhere UC Connect free public talk – Can we end endometriosis?

11 September 2023

A debilitating condition that affects about 10% of females in Aotearoa New Zealand, endometriosis remains virtually unknown or mysterious condition to most people. Can we engineer a solution to end endometriosis?


University of Canterbury Biomedical Engineering researchers (from left to right) Lecturer Dr Rachael Wood, student Katherine Ellis and Senior Lecturer Dr Deborah Munro bring an engineering approach to diagnosing and treating endometriosis. Dr Rachael Wood will discuss the research in a free public lecture on Wednesday night.

Because symptoms vary between sufferers, and because the chronic pain associated with the disease further sensitises patients to pain stimuli, it is often dismissed by clinicians. The only means of getting a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis is surgery, causing patients to suffer for years prior to diagnosis or treatment.

In this upcoming Tauhere UC Connect public talk on Wednesday 13 September, University of Canterbury Lecturer in Chemical & Process Engineering Dr Rachael Wood will discuss her research work into whether we can end endometriosis. Dr Wood is committed to the over-arching goal of “changing the face of medicine using Bioprocess Engineering principles”.

<img src="" alt="" style="    " class="img-responsive additional-image"> Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 - Good health and wellbeing

“We are developing engineering solutions to diagnose and/or treat endometriosis with simple, minimally invasive methods,” she says. “We are beginning our research by working with endometrial cell lines to understand how they behave under various conditions simulated in the lab.”

With UC Mechanical Engineering student Katie Ellis and UC Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Debbie Munro, Dr Wood is developing a new research focus on endometriosis.

“Our goal is to introduce an engineering approach to diagnosing and treating endometriosis,” Dr Wood says. “The number one emotion of endometriosis sufferers upon receiving their diagnosis was ‘relief’. This is surprising because they’ve been told they have a chronic, incurable disease, but they felt validated for the first time in their lives.

“We need to find ways to let patients know sooner, without surgery, that they have this condition so that they can get effective treatment sooner.”

About Endometriosis

Endometriosis is an inflammatory chronic pain condition caused by uterine tissue growing outside of the uterus that afflicts at least 11% of females worldwide, which results in a substantial burden to these people, and society at large. In addition to the extensive pain symptoms endometriosis patients can experience, people with endometriosis also have a high prevalence of infertility and sub-fertility. As many as half of endometriosis patients suffer from fertility issues. There are delays of approximately nine years for patients to receive a diagnosis of endometriosis, and this is almost always at the point of surgery, where the affected tissue is removed.

  • Tauhere UC Connect public lecture: Can we end endometriosis? presented by Lecturer Dr Rachael Wood, Chemical & Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Canterbury, from 7pm–8pm, Wednesday 13 September 2023, in C1, Central lecture theatres at the University of Canterbury, Ilam, Christchurch. Register to attend free at: Tauhere UC Connect talks are also livestreamed on the UC Facebook page, and made available to watch on YouTube.

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