Lesley Regan graduated from the Royal Free Hospital London in 1980 having been inspired to take up Obstetrics & Gynaecology by one of her teachers. She moved to Cambridge in 1984, to take up her first registrar post in O&G at Addenbrookes Hospital. At an early stage in her clinical training she was struck by how little was understood about the causes of miscarriage – the commonest complication of pregnancy. During her time in Cambridge she was introduced to the excitement of clinical and laboratory research and was awarded her MD thesis entitled “Epidemiology and mechanisms of sporadic and recurrent miscarriage” in 1989 following a secondment to the MRC Embryo & Gamete Research Group. In 1985 she was invited to become a teaching fellow at Girton College and a year later was appointed Director of Medical Studies, a post that she continued to hold until she moved back to London.
In 1990 she was appointed Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at St Mary’s Hospital, London and in 1996 took up her current post as Chair and Head of Department there. Professor Regan is Director of the Recurrent Miscarriage Service at St Mary’s, a multidisciplinary team that she has developed to provide comprehensive investigations and treatment for couples with a history of recurrent early and late miscarriages. This service is now recognised internationally, receiving some 800 new referrals per year and continuing to provide antenatal care for many thousands more couples during their subsequent high risk pregnancies. By encouraging close collaborative links between the clinic and the laboratory, her research team have been instrumental in furthering our understanding and treatment of a variety of causes of pregnancy loss, but in particular the contribution that the Antiphospholipid Syndrome and other thrombophilic disorders make to reproductive failure. In 2005, she received a “Woman of Achievement Award” in recognition of her services to Reproductive Medicine.
Professor Regan has also developed a collaborative clinical research and treatment programme with radiological colleagues pioneering the use of fertility sparing minimally invasive thermoablation techniques such as magnetic resonance guided focussed ultrasound (MRgFUS) for uterine fibroids. MRgFUS is now recognised to be a safe, cost effective alternative to conventional open pelvic surgery. It can be undertaken as an outpatient procedure without the need for anaesthesia, thereby reducing hospital admissions and convalescent time and offers potential NHS healthcare savings.
In collaboration with Professor Gudrun Moore at University College London she has recently started the Baby Bio Bank, a research project which is collecting a unique pregnancy tissue archive of thousands of trio samples (from mother, father, and fetus/baby) in order to identify candidate genes for the 4 major complications of pregnancy – recurrent miscarriage, preterm birth, fetal growth restriction and pre-eclampsia. It will take 5 years to complete the sample collection which will then be made available to other researchers in the UK to facilitate their studies into these pregnancy complications.
Professor Regan is a member of the RCOG Council and International Executive Board and chairs their Advocacy Committee and the FIGO Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights Committee. She is President of the UK Association of Early Pregnancy Units, advisor to the NICE interventions committee, professional member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Research Licence Committee. She is a Trustee of Wellbeing of Women (WOW), the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD), the Genesis Trust and CHARM - the charity for Research into Miscarriage.
In her spare time she enjoys writing and broadcasting about reproductive issues and promoting Women’s Health. She has published two successful books on miscarriage and pregnancy for the lay public and presented a series of 6 BBC Horizon documentaries.
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et al., 2016, A new biological and clinical resource for research into pregnancy complications: The Baby Bio Bank, Placenta, Vol:46, ISSN:0143-4004, Pages:31-37