MRC Centre for Reproductive Health
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Queen’s Prize honours research to improve women’s health

The University of Edinburgh has received a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work to improve women’s health.

This article was first published on 1 December, 2017

The award recognises more than 40 years of research that has changed women’s lives around the world.

Research at the University has helped give millions of women access to safe and effective contraception. It has helped develop life-saving treatments for breast and ovarian cancer.

Studies led by Edinburgh have also helped to cut rates of still births and have led to better treatments for problems that arise during pregnancy, improving the health of pregnant women and the next generation.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are part of the honours system and are awarded every two years by The Queen on the Prime Minister’s advice.

Edinburgh is among 21 institutions to receive a prize in the latest round, which will be awarded at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in February 2018.

It is the third time in a row – and the fifth time ever – the University has received a Prize.

Professors Jane Norman and Hilary Critchley, at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, said: “We are extremely honoured to receive this Prize, which recognises decades of work from many people spanning multiple disciplines – from fundamental biology studies and drug development to clinical trials that have helped shape women’s healthcare.

“Along with our advocacy work, we believe that our excellence in women’s health research has indeed changed lives.”

Researchers at the University have led or contributed to work that has proven a type of emergency contraception is safe for ‘over the counter’ use. Their studies have widened access to the so-called ‘morning after pill’ and cut rates of unwanted pregnancies.

Teams have developed safe and effective non-surgical techniques to terminate unwanted pregnancies that have helped to cut maternal death rates around the world.

Experts have also pioneered strategies to preserve fertility in young women treated for cancer, - with 10,000 young women likely to benefit in the UK each year.

Researchers played a major role in the clinical development of a new therapy for relapsed ovarian cancer, which has enabled 13 times more women to survive for five years or more following treatment.

Studies at the University have helped to define biological causes of endometriosis, paving the way for therapies to treat the condition, which affects 1.5 million women in the UK. Experts have made major contributions to the development of new treatments for heavy periods, which will improve quality of life for women worldwide.

University research led to changes in medical guidelines that have helped to cut rates of stillbirths in the UK. Studies have identified the best approaches for preventing preterm births while sparing women from ineffective interventions.

Experts have also shown that specialist antenatal clinics can help cut rates of pregnancy complications for severely obese mums-to-be.

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