Personal profile

Biography

Dr Amy Winship is a Rebecca Cooper Foundation Al & Val Rosenstrauss Fellow and Group Leader in reproductive biology at Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

She obtained her PhD in 2016 at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, focused on defining the role of cytokines in the reproductive tract (PNAS 2015, Scientific Reports 2015) and reproductive cancer (Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2016). 

Her recent research has been at the forefront of the fertility preservation field in identifying ovarian toxicity profiles of new-line cancer therapies, including immunotherapies and PARP inhibitors. Immunotherapies, in particular, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have revolutionised cancer therapy – harnessing the patient’s own immune cells to mount an anti-tumour response. Using preclinical models, Dr Winship made the ground-breaking discovery that ICIs cause irreversible ovarian damage, raising concerns that people treated with these agents may be at increased risk of infertility and comorbidities related to early menopause (Nature Cancer 2022).

Dr Winship’s current research proposes that uterine protection is the missing link to effective fertility preservation for healthy pregnancy for cancer survivors. Her teams’ analysis of clinical pregnancy outcomes shows survivors experience increased rates of infertility and obstetric complications after cancer therapy, even after using currently available fertility preservation methods, including embryo transfers from cryopreserved or donor oocytes (eggs), unexposed to cancer therapies (Human Reproduction Update 2020). This research has overturned dogma that because of its’ cyclical and regenerative nature, the endometrium – the inner lining of the uterus – does not sustain permanent damage. By designing unique preclinical models (RFD 2022) and using primary human tissues, we showed the first empirical evidence that radiotherapy causes direct, lasting uterine damage (JCI Insight 2023), leading to new clinical guidelines for patients and clinicians (Human Reproduction Open 2020).

Her other recent research has examined the essential role of DNA repair capacity in regulating quality control of the ovarian germline (Human Reproduction Update 2018). She recently revealed the first evidence for a key role of intrinsic DNA break repair in response to endogenous DNA damage (i.e. resulting from normal cellular processes) to safeguard primordial follicle oocyte number, genetic integrity and reproductive capacity (Human Reproduction 2020).

This discovery research is highly relevant to population health in Australia in context of fertility of cancer survivors and maternal ageing.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Research area keywords

  • Reproduction
  • Fertility Preservation
  • Ovary
  • Oocytes
  • Uterus
  • Endometrium
  • Pregnancy
  • DNA repair
  • Immune system
  • Infertility

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or