Dr Heidi Vanden Brink – Verity – The PCOS charity


Dr Heidi Vanden Brink, Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University specialises in research in the areas of adolescent and women’s health, and the intersection with PCOS, metabolism and nutrition.

In October 2023, Heidi presented her research paper, “Emergence of phenotypic differences in adolescents who develop PCOS in the early post-menarchal years” at professional conference, AE-PCOS.

Heidi’s research was the recipient of our first annual £250 award for early career researchers in PCOS. We will share more details about the research once it’s published, but in the interim we would like to kick off a new series highlighting PCOS researchers around the world by featuring Dr Heidi Vanden Brink. You can follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @1986ovum

Dr Heidi Vanden Brink, PhD, MS, RDMS

What is your research is looking at:

My research program intersects nutrition, metabolic health, and reproductive physiology and is guided by the overarching aim: to detect, understand, and prevent aberrant reproductive maturation during the adolescent reproductive transition.

The transition through puberty and the early post-menarcheal years, (termed the adolescent reproductive transition) represents a critical window of development which, when disrupted, can lead to conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). We are particularly interested in how PCOS develops during this window of development, and with that in mind, how (and in whom) we can prevent it.

We are also passionate about increasing representation in adolescent reproductive health research, so are developing tools to bring our studies and clinical research “outside the walls of the university!”

Why have you decided to specialise in women’s health research:

This is a good question! I would say that ever since my teen years, I was very interested in physiology (I asked for the Merck Manual of Medical Information for my 15thbirthday!). While working on my undergraduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Angela Baerwald gave the lectures on reproductive physiology and I found the lab courses absolutely fascinating.

I just fell in love the topic and started to realize just how little we knew about women’s health. Something “clicked” inside of me where I realized this is what I wanted to do – help answer the unasked, or unanswered, questions of women’s health. I did a volunteer research project in my 4th year (senior year) of my undergrad degree with Dr. Baerwald and ended up staying on to pursue my Master’s… and the rest is history! My passion and desire to focus on this overlooked window of adolescent health – the years around menarche – stem from Dr. Christopher McCartney and colleagues research in adolescence beginning in 2008-2009.


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