Eka Melson – Verity – The PCOS charity


The next interview in our Meet A PCOS Researcher is the amazing Eka Melson. He is a clinical academic in diabetes and endocrinology and leads the multi-centre DAISy-PCOS study, identifying different PCOS phenotypes and associated risk factors. Eka has been awarded a Chain-Florey Fellowship to join LMS MRC and Imperial College London to further study PCOS during his PhD. You won’t want to miss this one!

Details at the bottom on how you can contact Daisy PCOS if you would like to participate in this groundbreaking research (which is still recruiting!) taking place right here in the UK.


Can you provide a brief overview of your current research focus in PCOS and how it contributes to our understanding of the condition?

We know that having PCOS increases the risks of metabolic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver, diabetes and heart diseases. However, how PCOS increases these risks is unanswered. Answering this question will enable us to further research targeted intervention and these motivate me to look into this topic.  

Eka Melson

My research, supervised by Professor Wiebke Arlt from The MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences and Imperial College London, aims to identify women with PCOS who are at the highest risk of metabolic conditions. The DAISy-PCOS phenome study started in 2019 (and is still ongoing), has identified that there is a cluster of women with PCOS that has the highest risk of metabolic condition showing that it is possible to predict these risks with blood tests and machine learning. This could be an exciting first step towards developing tailored and individualised treatments to prevent the development of metabolic conditions in women with 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?

Apart from looking into the metabolic risks, the DAISy-PCOS study collected data on other aspects including fertility, sleep issues, mental health and quality of life. The aim is to acknowledge PCOS as a complex condition with symptoms that may be interrelated, and this will pave the way for further studies in the future.

Are there any recent breakthroughs or findings in PCOS research that you find particularly exciting or promising?

The newer and more effective medications for weight loss seems promising and this is not specific but related to PCOS. We know that almost half of women with PCOS have either overweight or obesity (which makes symptoms of PCOS worse) hence newer weight loss therapies should hopefully help address some aspects of PCOS. For women with PCOSwithout overweight and obesity, there are some other therapies that are currently undergoing clinical trialsspecifically to PCOS hence there will be lots of exciting outputs from PCOS research in the next few years!


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

Our DAISy-PCOS study is a multicentre study with tencentres across the UK & Ireland. This enables us to learn from each other and widely disseminate our research findings. Moreover, I plan to do a PhD to further study the condition, collaborating with professionals in other fields to create a novel way of studying PCOS.


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

As PCOS is a complex condition affecting different systems, it can be challenging to integrate all the facets when designing the research. It is therefore important to involve researchers and experts looking at PCOS from different angles to address this challenge.


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?

I agree that PCOS affects people differently and women with PCOS often have various needs resulting to visits to different medical specialities. In our DAISy-PCOS study, we get referrals from different specialists, including general practice, endocrinologist and gynaecologist, alongside our own advertisements, making the participants more representative of the PCOS population. Moreover, we have also recruited a large proportion of women from the ethnic minority background (which is currently underrepresented) hence the output from our study should cover both the heterogeneity of presentations and also experiences of women living with PCOS.


Are there any misconceptions about PCOS that your research aims to debunk or clarify?

We aim to clarify that PCOS is a multisystem problem rather than a gynaecological condition with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Traditionally, PCOS has been perceived as a gynaecological condition with women being told to ‘lose weight and come back when they are seeking fertility’. This is obviously wrong as evidence has shown PCOS to be a lifelong metabolic condition, having an impact on fertility and increase risks of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

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?

Being able to predict women who is at the highest metabolic risks (from the different clusters we found) will enable us to stratify patients based on the metabolic risk. This is very important in multiple aspects. Firstly, we will be able to give women newly diagnosed with PCOS more information on their personalised risks of metabolic conditions from their blood tests. More importantly, this will pave the ways for more research studies to see if different clusters will respond differently to certain interventions allowing for more precise and specific treatment options and moving away from the current ‘one size fits all’ approach.


Are there any emerging technologies or methodologies that you believe hold great potential for advancing PCOS research in the near future?

I believe that the combination of advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and genomics in research will enable us to study PCOS more precisely allowing us to come up with treatments that are more specific and individualised for women with PCOS.


As an early career researcher, what milestones or goals do you hope to achieve in the field of PCOS research in the coming years?

With the team, I would like to maximise the potential and impact of the DAISy-PCOS study as the study was designed to create a cohort of women with PCOS to help with further detailed research studies. This will help enhance collaborations across the UK & internationally to improve our knowledge of PCOS and related conditions. I also aim to do a PhD and learn more about different research methodologies that will develop my future career as a clinical academic with an interest in PCOS.


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?

For updates on our research, you can visit our website at https://daisypcos.com/. We also regularly tweet about any new advances relating to PCOS! You can follow me at @eka_melson and our DAISy-PCOS twitter at @DaisyPcos


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