Obstetrics & Gynaecology
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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Research Group


Our aim is to improve the diagnosis, risk stratification and treatment of women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).



Research issues

PCOS is the commonest cause of anovulatory infertility in women. Women may also suffer from cancer of the womb, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hirsutism. It affects 5-18% of women in the population and the current estimated annual costs of diagnosing and treating infertility secondary to PCOS in the UK range from £16 million to £22 million.

The health economic impact of PCOS in the USA has been estimated as ranging from $93 million to $1.77 billion. Although significant progress has been made in our understanding of PCOS, there are still challenges in unravelling its complexity. The diagnosis of PCOS is based on a combination of clinical, ultrasound and biochemical features, none of which on its own is diagnostic.

A single unifying mechanism has yet to be found which explains PCOS, and accurate prediction of response to treatment for obesity, infertility and hirsutism (which women with PCOS often present to the clinician with) remains a challenge.

New experimental approaches are therefore required in women with PCOS to help address some of these scientific and clinical challenges. Recent advances in the area of molecular systems biology which allow high throughput investigations of genetic, protein and metabolite expression in human tissue however, offer significant promise in the identification of new pathways and targets for previously incompletely understood diseases such as PCOS.

What we are doing about...

1. Diagnosis and risk stratification of PCOS

Our research group is undertaking clinical studies to identify new genomic, proteomic and metabolomic biomarkers and pathways to improve the diagnosis and risk stratification of women with PCOS.

2. Investigating the molecular links between PCOS and endometrial (womb) cancer including the insulin pathway and metabolomics

Studies are ongoing investigating the insulin pathway, fatty acid metabolism and meabolomics biomarkers in women with PCOS and endometrial cancer.

Current projects

  1. Nasir Shafiee-PhD, Nottingham. (University of Malaysia Scholarship). Investigating the molecular links between PCOS and endometrial cancer.
  2. Gulshafana Khan- MD, Nottingham Biochemical and ultrasound studies into the aetiology and characterization of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.


  • Novel biomarkers have been identified and are being validated.
  • Patents have also been filed.
  • A novel database of the identities, function and pathways of the in-house and external proteomic biomarkers identified in the literature in women with PCOS has been developed to provide a framework for scientists globally to facilitate a systems approach to profiling future biomarkers in PCOS.

Key publications

  1. Z. Haoula, S. Ravipati, D. Stekel, C. Hodgman, C. Daykin, D. Barrett, N. Raine-Fenning, W. Atiomo. Mass Spectrometry Based Plasma Metabolomics Identifies A Unique Profile of Small Molecule Plasma Biomarkers in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). XX FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics 2012. Congress Abstracts.
  2. Shafiee MN, Chapman C, Barrett D, Abu J, Atiomo W. Reviewing the molecular mechanisms which increase endometrial cancer (EC) risk in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): time for paradigm shift? Gynecol Oncol. 2013 Jun 30. doi:pii: S0090-8258(13)00865-2. 10.1016/j.ygyno.2013.06.032. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23822891.
  3. Galazis N, Pang YL, Galazi M, Haoula Z, Layfield R, Atiomo W. Proteomic biomarkers of endometrial cancer risk in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and biomarker database integration. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2013 Jul;29(7):638
  4. Atiomo W, Daykin CA. Metabolomic biomarkers in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study. Mol Hum Reprod. 2012 Nov;18(11):546-53.
  5. Atiomo WU, Khalid S, Ziauddin A, Tooth D, Layfield R. Framework for a systems approach to proteomic biomarker profiling in polycystic ovary syndrome. Expert Rev Proteomics. 2009 Oct;6(5):469-99.
  6. Atiomo W, Khalid S, Parameshweran S, Houda M, Layfield R. Proteomic biomarkers for the diagnosis and risk stratification of polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review. BJOG. 2009 Jan;116(2):137-43. 
  7. C Hughes, R Layfield and W Atiomo (Inventors). University Of Nottingham (Applicant). Biomarkers for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: GB06204671.1. Priority Date 16/10/06



Androgen Excess and PCOS Society 


Email William Atiomo



PhD opportunity

  • Clarifying the molecular mechanisms linking PCOS with endometrial cancer using a systems based approach.

Please see the above contact for more details.





Obstetrics & Gynaecology

School of Medicine
The University of Nottingham
Queen's Medical Centre, D Floor, East Block
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

telephone: +44 (0) 115 823 1000