Dr Jillian Tay – Verity – The PCOS charity


The second interview in our Meet A PCOS Researcher is the phenomenal and equal parts lovely Dr Chau Thien Tay (Jillian). Dr Tay is an Endocrinologist and Research Fellow at Monash Centre For Health Research in Melbourne, Australia. She is a core member of the International PCOS Guidelined and has a PCOS research focus on the area of epidemiological investigations. Grab a cuppa and enjoy this interview, it’s a great read!!!

Dr Jillian Tay

What drew you to a career in research, and what initially attracted you to focus on PCOS? What excites and / or motivates you about research on this topic?

In the early stages of my medical career, I vividly recall diagnosing a patient with PCOS in an endocrine clinic. Following standard procedure, I consulted with the senior endocrinologist for guidance. While praised for identifying this complex condition, I was disheartened when advised to simply refer the patient back to their family doctor, as little could be done. This encounter left me unsettled and I couldn’t shake the feeling that more could and should be done for patients with PCOS. Driven by this experience, I embarked on a PhD focusing on PCOS after I completed my specialist training in endocrinology. I remembered a touching moment during my PhD convocation, a stranger approached me after the ceremony expressing her gratitude for dedicating my research efforts to PCOS She revealed herself as a mother of two daughters, both with PCOS. This served as a poignant reminder of the real-world impact of my work and reinforced my commitment to advancing both clinical practice and academic research in the field of PCOS.

PCOS is a complex condition with various symptoms. Could you highlight the key aspects of your research and how it addresses the multifaceted nature of PCOS? AND PCOS affects a diverse range of individuals. How does your research consider and address the different presentations and experiences of PCOS across various diverse groups?

My research is primarily focused on conducting epidemiological investigations, which are dedicated to gaining a comprehensive understanding of PCOS presentation and progression within large and diverse populations. Unlike clinical trials, which typically explore medical interventions for specific symptoms or outcomes, epidemiological research delves into the multifaceted dimensions of PCOS.


My research spans across various aspects of PCOS impact on reproductive, metabolic, and psychological health. Leveraging large-scale longitudinal cohort datasets, I explore the natural history of PCOS features across the lifespan. For instance, a notable study I conducted revealed that childhood weight gain occurring prior to the onset of menstruation precedes the full diagnosis and manifestation of PCOS. This finding underscores the potential efficacy of early-life interventions promoting a healthy lifestyle as a preventive measure against PCOS.

Furthermore, I made a significant contribution to the field by actively participating in the development of the 2023 International Evidence-Based PCOS Guideline. In this role, I coordinated and led all evidence synthesis efforts, ensuring that the latest research findings were incorporated into the guideline. By doing so, I helped inform international experts in formulating clinical practice recommendations for the care of individuals with PCOS.


How do you collaborate with other researchers or professionals in the field to enhance the impact of your work?

I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the dynamic team at the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation, where our team has expertise acrossvarious disciplines, including medicine, midwifery, dietetics, psychology, exercise physiology, and biostatistics. 

I’m also actively engaged in several special interest groups, such as the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society (AEPCOS) and the US Endocrine Society. These affiliations aren’t just about titles – they’re about connections. Attending conferences and regular member meetings isn’t just a box to tick; it’s where ideas are born, findings are shared, and networks for international collaboration are forged.

Yet, amidst the rigors of research and academia, I’ve found profound fulfillment in collaborating with patient advocacy groups. These interactions provide a vital link to the human side of our work. By connecting with individuals affected by PCOS, we ensure that our research resonates with real-life needs and experiences.


In your opinion, what role does early career research play in shaping the future of PCOS diagnosis, treatment, and overall management?

Early career researchers play a pivotal role in shaping the future landscape of PCOS research. As the next generation of researchers, we inherit a legacy of knowledge while also carry the torch forward, bringing fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to the table. Collaboration and knowledge exchange are key facets of our collective efforts. Furthermore, supporting one another in our research endeavours fosters a collaborative spirit that is essential for driving meaningful progress in PCOS research. Equally important is the role of early career researchers in inspiring and encouraging others to join the field of PCOS research. By sharing our passion and enthusiasm for unravelling the complexitiesof PCOS, we can inspire the next generation of researchers to embark on this important journey.

How do you envision the integration of your research findings into clinical practice, and what impact do you hope it will have on patients with PCOS?

Through my involvement in developing the PCOS Guideline, which is readily accessible for free download and currently undergoing translation into multiple languages, I envision an integration of research findings into evidence-based clinical practice. My aspiration is for this guideline to serve as a comprehensive resource, equipping clinicians with evidence-based tools to deliver optimal care for individuals with PCOS. By ensuring that clinicians have access to accurate and up-to-date information, we can reduce the spread of misinformation and empower healthcare providers to implement effective treatments that truly improve the health and well-being of patients with PCOS. 

However, beyond the clinical realm, my ultimate hope is to instil a sense of reassurance and support among women with PCOS. I want them to know that they are not alone in their struggles and that there are dedicated individuals actively working behind the scenes to improve their experiences and outcomes. While we may not have all the answers at present, our commitment to advancing PCOS research and care remains unwavering, driven by a genuine desire to make a positive impact in the lives of those affected by this condition.


What challenges do you face in PCOS research, and how do you navigate them?

Navigating the challenges of PCOS research often feels like embarking on a journey filled with obstacles with little support. 

One of the most prominent hurdles we face is the lack of widespread interest and recognition of PCOS. Unlike more widely acknowledged conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer, PCOS research struggles to capture attention in the same way as other health conditions that affect both men and women. It’s as if PCOS is the unsung hero of women’s health – neglected and undervalued. This lack of recognition by the general public, policy makers, pharmaceutical industries, and funders translates into fewer resources and opportunities for PCOS researchers, making it challenging to advance our work.

Moreover, the struggle to secure publication in high-impact journals compounds our challenges. PCOS research often is thought not important enough for consideration for prestigious journals and ended up published in less well-known journals with fewer readers and less reach. This disparity in attention is disheartening, especially considering the profound impact PCOS has on women’s health. Without the stamp of approval from prestigious publications, it becomes increasingly difficult to attract research grants – a frustrating reality for many in the field.

Yet, in the face of these obstacles, I am reminded of the driving force behind my work – my passion and commitment to advancing knowledge and improving outcomes for individuals affected by PCOS. While I may not have all the answers, I draw strength from my dedication to this cause. 


Do you think PCOS research and/or womens health research is underfunded? If so, why do you think this is and what is needed to change this? 

I firmly believe that PCOS and other women’s health research are indeed underfunded. While I can appreciate the pharmaceutical industry’s perspective, prioritizing conditions like diabetes and heart disease that affect both genders, I also recognize the urgent need for greater attention to be directed towards PCOS. It’s essential for government policymakers and funders to recognize the profound impact of PCOS throughout a woman’s lifespan and allocate resources accordingly.

We must raise awareness about PCOS and advocate for greater recognition of its significance within the broader healthcare landscape. This advocacy effort cannot be shouldered by clinicians and researchers alone; we need the active involvement of women and community members. Together, by amplifying our voices and collectively advocating, we can ensure that PCOS research receives the attention and resources it deserves. 


What advice do you have for individuals with PCOS who may be interested in participating in research studies or clinical trials?

Participating in research studies or clinical trials can feel intimidating, and it’s understandable to have concerns about being treated merely as a statistic. However, I want to reassure individuals with PCOS that their participation is invaluable and goes beyond being just a number. By actively engaging in research, individuals with PCOS play a crucial role in advancing our understanding of this complex condition. 

Your participation contributes to the accumulation of valuable data and insights that can ultimately lead to improved treatments and outcomes for individuals living with PCOS. Furthermore, your involvement in research helps to raise awareness about PCOS and highlights the importance of prioritizing research efforts in this area. 

So, if you’re considering participating in a research study or clinical trial, know that your contribution is deeply valued and appreciated. Your willingness to share your experiences and insights has the potential to make a significant impact in shaping the future of PCOS research and care.


How can the broader community, including PCOS charities and advocacy groups, support and contribute to advancements in PCOS research?

1. Fundraising events and research grant programs: Organize fundraising events such as walks, runs, or galas to raise funds specifically designated for PCOS research. This events not only help to provide funding for PCOS research, but importantly help raise awareness of PCOS in the community.

2. Awareness campaigns: Launch public awareness campaigns to educate the broader community about PCOS. Increased awareness leads to earlier diagnosis, improved understanding, reduced stigma, and greater support for individuals affected by PCOS. It also helps generate public interest and support for PCOS research initiatives.

3. Patient support networks: Create online or in-person support networks for individuals affected by PCOS, providing a platform for sharing experiences, resources, and information. Support networks offer emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of community for individuals with PCOS, enhancing their overall well-being and empowering them to actively participate in research studies and advocacy efforts.

4. Advocacy efforts and collaborative partnerships: Forge partnerships with academic institutions, healthcare organizations, and research centers to support collaborative research initiatives focused on PCOS. Advocate for increased government funding and support for PCOS research at the local, national, and international levels.

5. Research symposia and conferences: Host and participate in research symposia and conferences dedicated to PCOS, providing a platform for researchers to present their findings, exchange ideas, and collaborate on future studies.

6. Research advocacy training: Offer training programs and resources for individuals interested in becoming advocates for PCOS research, empowering them to effectively communicate with policymakers, healthcare professionals, and the public about the importance of supporting PCOS research initiatives.

Finally, for those interested in keeping up with your work and PCOS research in general, where can they find more information or updates on you and your work?

While I may not be the best at promoting my own work, you can find updates on my research through my X account, @TayJillian.

Additionally, for broader updates on PCOS research and related initiatives, I recommend following our research center, @MCHRImonash. If you’re interested in accessing my published work in journals, you can search for my official name, Chau Thien Tay.

Thank you for your interest in staying updated on PCOS research!


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