AN ‘outstanding’ chemist poisoned herself with cyanide after telling her family and friends she was transgender.

Erin Shepherd took her own life despite being apparently pleased with her transition from man to woman, Oxford Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old was found dead in her flat in Magdalen Road, East Oxford, after sending a suicide note via email to her parents and two sisters.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter described her suicide on January 20 as a ‘tragic case’, adding: “This was a great shock.

“Those closest to her did not foresee this. Things seemed to be going in the right direction. Very sadly, something caused her to decide to take her own life.”

The Oxford University researcher was found by firefighters who forced their way into her flat, after shutting down the whole street alongside police and paramedics.

She was discovered with a container of white powder sat nearby, which was confirmed as cyanide.

Mr Salter read evidence from Miss Shepherd’s Oxford doctor, Richard Baskerville, who said she registered in 2015 under her former name, David Shepherd.

Mr Baskerville's statement added: "She had recently come out as transgender. She had an extensive circle of friends and was pleased with her progress in transitioning. [Her death] was a sudden and tragic event."

Miss Shepherd had completed her DPhil in chemistry at Corpus Christi College and had just started as a paid academic in the chemistry department.

She had changed her name and was taking speech therapy to adopt a new identity.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Parsons, of Oxford CID, said Miss Shepherd accessed the university labs at 6am on the day she died; likely to be when she took the cyanide.

Speaking at the inquest, he said: "She had struggled with her gender identity for most of her life.

"She was doing well and showing no signs of unhappiness."

He told the court how Miss Shepherd was unable to attend school as a teenager after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, but worked hard to achieve.

Police were called to Miss Shepherd's home by her sister Sophie Shepherd, after she received an email entitled 'I am so sorry'.

The court heard she rang her sister urging her to flush the cyanide down the toilet, to no avail.

The university released a statement yesterday that said Miss Shepherd was 'an outstanding chemist' whose death 'greatly saddened' her friends.

Mr Salter concluded Miss Shepherd, whose registered address is in Peterborough where she was born, died of suicide.