A researcher with a patient

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s (MCRI) Dr Elena Tucker has received the Norman Beischer Early-Mid Career Scientific Research Fellowship.

The three-year, $660,000 fellowship supports clinically-based scientific research by both current and emerging leaders, with a focus on pregnancy, obstetrics, neonatology or gynaecology.

Dr Tucker will create a national network of clinicians and researchers to unlock answers about Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), a condition also known as premature menopause.

Researcher Dr Elena Tucker

Image: Dr Elena Tucker

Women and girls with POI experience a loss of ovarian function before the age of 40. The ovaries don't produce normal amounts of the hormone oestrogen or release eggs regularly, making it more difficult to fall pregnant.

Affected patients also have an increased risk of mental health disorders, heart disease, bone disease, diabetes and cancer.

Dr Tucker said while the genetic cause of POI is unknown for most cases, her research would bring together multi-disciplinary teams to fill the current knowledge gaps.

“This project will combine state-of-the-art genomic research with stem cell technology to gain a much broader understanding of what causes POI, ultimately helping people on their journey to parenthood,” she said.

Dr Tucker said she hoped her research would help to make genomic testing for POI more accurate and accessible and ultimately improve the fertility and health of affected women and girls.