MRC Centre for Reproductive Health
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Dr Lucy Whitaker

Research interests and grants.

Dr Lucy Whitaker

NES CSO Clinical lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

  • MRC Centre for Reproductive Sciences
  • Deanery of Clinical Sciences

Contact details

Research interests

A Clinical Lecturer in Obstetrics in Gynaecology, Dr Whitaker studies endometriosis, pelvic pain and heavy menstrual bleeding with the aim of improving treatments and increasing quality of life.

She is a senior trainee in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in South East Scotland. During this time she has completed an MSc in Surgical Sciences and then obtained an MRC-funded Clinical Research Fellow post, successfully defending a MD Doctoral thesis focusing upon the effects of Selective Progesterone Receptor Modulators on the female reproductive tract.

Her current research focuses on clinical trials to determine which treatments are the most effective for endometriosis associated pain, working with basic scientists to discover new treatments and repurpose existing medications to translate into effective, precision based therapeutic options. Her aim is to develop new, acceptable treatments for women with pelvic pain to minimise the need for fertility removing surgery.

In addition Dr Whitaker is undertaking training in Clinical Trial Methodology and delivery in the Edinburgh Clinical Trials Unit and is undertaking an MSc in Epidemiology.

Dr Whitaker works with support and mentorship from Professor Andrew Horne and Professor John Norrie.

Current Grants

  • NIHR HTA (£2,057,700) 2020-25 “ESPriT2: A multi-centre randomised controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of laparoscopic treatment of isolated superficial peritoneal endometriosis for the management of chronic pelvic pain in women” Horne AW (CI), Whitaker L (co-CI), Norrie J, Daniels J, Stephens J, Cooper K, Clark TJ, Becker C, Cheong Y, Thornton J, Maheshwari A, Vincent K, Jackson L, Cox, E, Hummelshoj L, King K
  • Chief Scientist Office (£30,000 + salary) 2019-2023 “Precision treatment and drug repurposing to reduce endometriosis-associated pain in women” Whitaker L

Selected publications from the last five years

  • Abokhrais IM, Denison FC, Whitaker LHR, Saunders PTK, Doust A, Williams LJ, Horne AW. A two-arm parallel double-blind randomised controlled pilot trial of the efficacy of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the treatment of women with endometriosis-associated pain (PurFECT1). PLoS One. 2020 Jan 17;15(1):e0227695.
  • Whitaker LHR, Byrne D, Hummelshoj L, Missmer SA, Saraswat L, Saridogan E, Tomassetti C, Horne AW. Proposal for a new ICD-11 coding classification system for endometriosis. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2019 241:134-135.
  • Seretny M, Murray SR, Whitaker L, Murnane J, Whalley H, Pernet C, Horne AW. The use of brain functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine the mechanism of action of gabapentin in managing chronic pelvic pain in women: a pilot study. BMJ Open. 2019 9(6):e026152.
  • C Holm Hansen, P Warner, A Walker, RA Parker, L Whitaker, HOD Critchley, CJ Weir. A practical guide to simulation work-up studies for Bayesian response-adaptive trial designs using SAS and WinBUGS. Pharmaceutical Statistics. 2018 17(6):854-65.
  • Whitaker LH, Murray AA, Matthews R, Shaw G, Williams AR, Saunders PT, Critchley HO. Selective progesterone receptor modulator (SPRM) ulipristal acetate (UPA) and its effects on the human endometrium. Human Reproduction. 2017 1;32(3):531-543.
  • Murji A, Whitaker L, T Chow, Sobel ML. CY952 Selective Progesterone Receptor Modulators (SPRMs) for uterine fibroids. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017 No: CD010770.
  • Whitaker LH, Reid J, Choa A, McFee S, Seretny M, Wilson J, Elton RA, Vincent K, Horne AW. An Exploratory Study into Objective and Reported Characteristics of Neuropathic Pain in Women with Chronic Pelvic Pain. PLoS One. 2016 5;11(4):e0151950.
  • Wagenfeld A, Saunders PT, Whitaker L, Critchley HO. Selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRMs): Progesterone receptor action, mode of action on the endometrium and treatment options in gynecological therapies. Expert Opinions on Therapeutic Targets 2016 20(9):1045-54.
  • Whitaker L, Critchley HO. Abnormal uterine bleeding. Best Practice and Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2016  34:54-65.

Staff/group members of the Horne/Whitaker group

  • Professor Andrew Horne
  • Mrs Ann Doust (Research Portfolio Manager)
  • Mrs Nicola Watson (Research Nurse)
  • Ms Priscilla Fernandez (Research Midwife)
  • Ms Lauren Sutherland (Research Assistant)
  • Ms Ashleigh Symington (Research Assistant)
  • Mr Jordan Doust (Research Administrator)
  • Dr Scott Mackenzie (Academic Foundation Year One doctor)

Principle Collaborators

  • Professor Philippa Saunders (CIR)
  • Professor Hilary Critchley (CRH)
  • Professor Krina Zondervan (University of Oxford)
  • Professor Katy Vincent (University of Oxford)
  • Professor Kevin Cooper (Aberdeen Royal Infirmary)
  • Dr Lucky Sara (Aberdeen Royal Infirmary)
  • Professor Justin Clark (Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Dr Jane Daniels (University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Stacey Missmer (Michigan State University)


Chief Investigator

ESPriT1: Co-Chief Investigator (with Professor Andrew Horne) [Chief Scientist Office (TCS/18/43)]

The Effectiveness of laparoscopic treatment of isolated Superficial Peritoneal endometriosis for managing chronic pelvic pain in women: a randomised controlled feasibility Trial (ESPriT).

ESPriT2: Co-Chief Investigator (with Professor Andrew Horne) (NIHR HTA 129801)


Principle Investigator

EPiC: Chief Investigator Professor Andrew Horne (MRC/CIC6/58). A phase II single-arm open label clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and side effects of Dichloroacetate (DCA) to treat Endometriosis-associated Pain (EPiC).

REGAL: Chief Investigator Dr Lucky Saraswat, University of Aberdeen (NIHR HTA 127280). Recurrence of Endometriosis: A randomised controlled trial of clinical and cost-effectiveness of Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone Analogues with add-back hormone replacement therapy versus repeat Laparoscopic surgery (REGAL)


Junior Board Member, World Society of Endometriosis

Communications Committee Member, Society for Endometriosis and Uterine Disorders,

Trainee Representative, RCOG Menstrual Disorders Clinical Studies Group

Academic Representative, South East Scotland Trainees Committee (O&G)