Centre for Reproductive Health

The 15th World Congress on Endometriosis

The World Congress on Endometriosis (WCE) took place at the EICC in Edinburgh from 3-6 May, 2023, hosting over 1,100 delegates from 53 countries, presenting nearly 600 original research papers.

The Congress is acknowledged as the biggest event where clinical and scientific progress in endometriosis is presented. It was organised by the Co-Directors of EXPPECT Edinburgh, Professor Andrew Horne (CRH) and Professor Philippa Saunders (CIR), who extend their thanks to all the organisers, sponsors and staff who contributed to the overwhelming success of the four-day long conference.

The prestigious event offered an incredible opportunity for researchers from all over the world to gather and share knowledge and research updates – many meeting in person for the first time.

Picture of Professor Andrew Horne welcoming delegates

Gynaecologists, surgeons, sonologists, discovery scientists, data scientists, pain experts, fertility experts, specialist nurses, allied health professionals and representatives from patient organisations gathered to share the latest developments on a disease associated with excruciating pain and infertility.

The WCE2023 programme was thoughtfully curated to push the audience to think about endometriosis from new and alternative perspectives, hosting speakers who are experts in adjacent fields.

The impressive selection of keynote speakers included:

  • Professor John Cryan on the relationship between the gut microbiome/gut-brain axis and visceral pain in endometriosis. (CRH student Francesca Hearn-Yeates was very excited to hear this talk, given her PhD focuses on this topic). 
Picture of John Cryan, Francesca Hearn-Yeates, Philippa Saunders and Andrew Horne (left to right)
  • W​​​​​​​omen’s Health social media aficionado, Dr Jennifer Gunter (often known as ‘Twitter’s resident gynaecologist’) was the second keynote speaker and she debated the pros and cons of social media in the endometriosis community
Picture of Dr Jennifer Gunter
  • Professor Daniel Clauw presented on ‘central sensitisation’ - the ability of the nervous system to learn and memorise pain experiences, leading to pain hypersensitivity. He also discussed the benefits of integrated non-pharmacological therapies to treat chronic pain.
  • To close the congress, there was a fascinating talk from Professor Lorimer Moseley on the long-term benefits of education to help those with chronic pain.
Picture of Professor Lorimer Moseley

EXPPECT/ CRH prize winners included: 

  • Scott Mackenzie, who is part of EXPPECT, won the Rodolph Maheux Award for his work which aims to build a personalised medicine future for chronic pelvic pain treatment. His winning abstract from an Early Career Clinician identified a SNP associated with gabapentin response in chronic pelvic pain.
  • Dr Lucy Whitaker (Lead for Clinical Studies at EXPPECT and PI in MRC Centre for Reproductive Health) was officially thanked for her service in the Early Career World Endometriosis Society Board.

Presentations from EXPPECT / CRH staff members included:

  • Dr Lucy Whitaker presented her exploratory open label study (EPIC1) of dichloroacetate (DCA) to treat endometriosis associated pain.
Picture of Dr Lucy Whitaker presenting
  • Co-Director of EXPPECT and CRH Associate Professor Philippa Saunders chaired the session on Digital Health in endometriosis and pelvic pain.
  • Professor Andrew Horne chaired the Joint SEUD/WES Precongress Course on Adenomyosis, the Chugai-sponsored symposium on the current progress of the imaging diagnosis in endometriosis, and the Theramex-sponsored Symposium on the promise of GnRH antagonists in the treatment of endometriosis and related uterine disorders.
  • CRH Associate and EXPPECT Lead for Discovery Science, Dr Doug Gibson, presented on the impact of the cholesterol metabolite 27-hydroxycholesterol on the pathogenesis of endometriosis.
  • Specialist Research Nurse Priscilla Fernandez presented on the important topic of the Nurse Specialist role in research in Endometriosis. Priscilla is a member of the EXPPECT multidisciplinary team which is critical to effective patient care and research efforts.
  • PhD student Francesca Hearn-Yeates presented a poster on the association between diet and symptom relief in endometriosis.
Picture of Francesca Hearn-Yeates with her poster
  • PhD student Katherine Edgley presented a poster on high adherence to using smartwatches in combination with daily self-reports in patients with endometriosis.
Picture of Katherine Edgley with her poster

National and international endometriosis advocates and patient groups, including Endo Warrior West Lothian members, were also well represented, highlighting the importance of ensuring that the lived experiences of patients continue to drive research priorities and clinical care.

The conference dinner and party took place in the beautiful National Museum of Scotland. It was a fun-filled evening for all and a great way to celebrate the resounding success of WCE2023.

Picture of the EXPPECT Edinburgh team

Coverage of WCE2023, which included summaries of the international speakers and updates on endometriosis research and treatment, can be read in this Herald news article:

Pain, infertility, endometriosis: what's really going on?

The next World Congress on Endometriosis will be in Sydney, from 21-15 May, 2025. Register your interest here.

Read more about EXPPECT’s work here