Musculoskeletal Research

We are leaders in the discovery, development and delivery of breakthroughs to ease the burden of bone and joint disease. Our research aims to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health and identify modifiable risk factors for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.

Through our discovery, translational and implementation programs, we are ensuring that the research evidence about new interventions and treatments is put into practice. Our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for those suffering with painful and disabling musculoskeletal conditions.

Areas of strength

A3BC MSK Biobank

A3BC MSK Biobank

The A3BC is a national biobanking and information network to improve the health of men, women and children living with arthritis and autoimmune conditions.

The network includes more than 70 rheumatology clinicians and researchers, and over 60 recruitment sites, biobanks and research laboratories.

It collects a broad range of linked biological information (such as genetics, microbiome), patient-reported details (via the ARAD Registry) and medical data. The information is then integrated and examined using large-scale data analytics.

It is a comprehensive, national resource to support Australian researchers and doctors to deliver the best diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for those with arthritis and autoimmune conditions… and hopefully find a cure.

The Australian Arthritis and Autoimmune Biobank Collaborative is part of the Kolling’s Institute of Bone and Joint Research and linked to the Sutton Arthritis Research Laboratory.

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Ageing & Pharmacology.

Researchers within the Laboratory of Ageing and Pharmacology are working to improve healthy ageing in older people.Our focus is on prevention and better management of the geriatric syndromes, including frailty, falls and confusion.

We are part of the Penney Ageing Research Unit and our research aims to improve the safety and effectiveness of medicines for older adults. We use laboratory, clinical and population based studies to understand the risks and benefits of medicines in older people, particularly with those with multiple chronic medical conditions. Our research aims to inform drug choices, doses and formulations of medicines for older people. This will help older people benefit from medicines and minimise adverse effects.

We have developed a pharmacological risk assessment tool, the Drug Burden Index, to assess the impact of an older person’s medicines on their physical function. We have demonstrated that higher Drug Burden Index is linked to loss of independence, more falls, frailty, longer stays in hospital and a greater mortality.

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Allied Health

Research within the Kolling Institute focuses on the role of allied health professionals in patient care, from assessment and diagnosis to the management of patients.

Across the Northern Sydney Local Health District, there are more than 1,300 allied health professionals, representing 11 per cent of the workforce. These teams not only provide vital support in hospitals and specialist clinics, but in community settings as well.

The Northern Sydney Local Health District Allied Health Research team undertakes activities which encourage the participation of allied health clinicians in research activities. We are working collaboratively to build a culture of research which will ultimately inform best-practice care for patients.

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Back Pain Research

We are a highly collaborative research team, engaging with researchers across a wide variety of disciplines. Working closely with multidisciplinary teams, including the Osteoarthritis Research Team, we are committed to designing and testing innovative, accessible, technology-based interventions that could speed recovery and decrease the burden of musculoskeletal pain globally. Our vision is to promote health and quality of life for the millions of people who experience back pain.

Our research focuses on evaluating common treatments for back pain, and developing innovative interventions including the use of digital health technology to improve management for the condition.

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Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Laboratory

The Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Laboratory is a biomedical engineering-based research group which studies the links between joint injury and diseases such as osteoarthritis and tendinopathy.

We study how injuries affect the mechanical function of joints, how changes in mechanical function drive disease, and how these injuries can be prevented.

We perform independent research, while also collaborating with orthopaedic surgeons and the biotechnology industry.

Our research focuses on the prevention and repair of ligament and tendon injuries - and improving orthopaedic devices and surgical techniques.

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Institute of Bone and Joint Research

The Institute of Bone and Joint Research was established in 1999, providing a dedicated institute to advance our understanding of musculoskeletal disorders and diseases, their diagnosis and treatments.

The organisation joined the Kolling Institute in 2006 to improve collaboration between researchers from different disciplines, and to advance bone and joint disease research on the campus. The Institute of Bone and Joint Research is a leader in the discovery, development and delivery of medical and surgical breakthroughs to ease the burden of bone and joint disease. Our epidemiological research aims to raise awareness of the impact of the disease and identify modifiable risk factors for prevention.

The research laboratories on the Royal North Shore Hospital campus are located in the state-of-the-art Kolling Building. Through our laboratory research, we are striving to find the cause and the cure for arthritis and other musculoskeletal and autoimmune conditions. The clinical and other research units are located, not only on the Royal North Shore and Northern Clinical School campus, but also at other teaching hospitals of the University of Sydney.

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Dermatology

At the Royal North Shore Hospital Department of Dermatology Clinical and Translational Medicine Laboratory, we focus on three key areas including clinical trials, clinical projects and translational studies.

It can take more than 30 years from the discovery of a new medicine in the laboratory to the approved use of that compound with a patient in a clinic. It can then be another decade before that medicine is widely adopted by the medical community.

Our research team accelerates this entire process in three important ways. Firstly, by being actively involved in clinical trials, we can offer our patients immediate access to the latest and most advanced medicines.

Secondly, we conduct clinical studies to improve our understanding of the use of existing and new medicines, alongside projects to improve the early diagnosis and recognition of diseases.

And lastly, we perform laboratory experiments, with a focus on clinical observation and human tissues to better understand the causes of these conditions.

Ultimately, this means we are able to contribute to the discovery of new and targeted therapies for all dermatological conditions.

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Raymond Purves Bone & Joint Research Laboratory

The Raymond Purves Bone and Joint Research Laboratory leads Australia in research into some of the key musculoskeletal diseases affecting our population. This includes osteoarthritis, tendon injury and intervertebral disc degeneration.

There is currently no cure for these common, chronic disabling conditions and long-term management options are limited. It is only through a better understanding of the disease and tissue breakdown, that we will be able to develop therapies to modify the conditions.

The Raymond Purves Bone and Joint Research Laboratory team is well placed to improve the health of patients with musculoskeletal disease. We are located alongside Royal North Shore Hospital and have developed close relationships with orthopaedic surgeons at the hospital. This means our latest research developments can be efficiently incorporated into future clinical care.

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Pain

At the Pain Management Research Institute, our vision is to be a global leader in comprehensive pain management solutions. We strive to achieve this by undertaking cutting-edge research and delivering education and training to clinicians caring for people with chronic pain.

Since our inception in 1991, we have focused on patient advocacy and integrating our research and training with clinical services. Through this process, the latest research can inform future care.

The Pain Management Research Institute is part of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health. It has academic and lab space within the Kolling Institute building, as well as facilities in the Douglas building at Royal North Shore Hospital.

From here, our clinical research is undertaken alongside the nationally and internationally-recognised pain education program. Patients with acute pain, cancer pain and chronic non-cancer pain receive treatment in collaboration with the Michael J Cousins’ Pain Management & Research Centre.

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Allied Health

Research within the Kolling Institute focuses on the role of allied health professionals in patient care, from assessment and diagnosis to the management of patients.

Across the Northern Sydney Local Health District, there are more than 1,300 allied health professionals, representing 11 per cent of the workforce. These teams not only provide vital support in hospitals and specialist clinics, but in community settings as well.

The Northern Sydney Local Health District Allied Health Research team undertakes activities which encourage the participation of allied health clinicians in research activities. We are working collaboratively to build a culture of research which will ultimately inform best-practice care for patients.

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Neuroscience

Our group investigates the way neurogenetic disorders develop.

We focus on Mitochondrial diseases and movement disorders. We also provide diagnostic support for our large clinic for patients with mitochondrial diseases and movement disorders.

Our focus is to develop accurate methods of diagnosis and advance understanding of how genetic mutations cause neurological disease. Ultimately, we aim to translate the results of our research into improved clinical care for our patients with neurological disorders.

Defining an individual’s disease-causing mutations provides clinicians and patients with information for appropriate treatment and genetic counselling. We use next-generation sequencing methods to discover and identify new gene mutations in individuals who may have unusual disease symptoms.

Our specific goal is to identify key molecular pathways involved in the development of neurological diseases, with a particular focus on mitochondrial function. To understand an individual’s genetic mutation, we use various methods including molecular biological techniques, mitochondrial function assays, biomarker measurement and patient derived stem cells to create in vitro models of neurological disease.

Our clinical studies are aimed at determining the history of mitochondrial diseases, identifying factors that can predict disease progression and severity, and developing tools to monitor disease progression to enhance the performance of clinical trials.

Funding sources include the Mito Foundation, the National Health and Medical Research Council, HSP Research Foundation, Parkinson’s NSW, the Hughie Foundation and the Rebecca Cooper Medical Research Foundation.

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Neuroscience

Nursing & Midwifery

The Northern Sydney Local Health District Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre located within the Kolling Institute provides support, training and consultation to enable nurses and midwives to conduct research, undertake practice development and innovate within our health care systems. Our work in the centre focuses on supporting our colleagues to provide the highest possible quality care and treatment through inquiry, analysis and implementation of the best available evidence.

Comprising a large proportion of the health workforce, nurses and midwives have a key role in the care and treatment of patients and women in Northern Sydney Local Health District. Their research and innovation in all specialities and services is diverse and impactful.

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Orthopaedic Surgery

The Orthopaedic Surgery Department brings together surgeons from different specialties with a common interest in improving the diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries.

We are currently conducting research into hip and knee replacement, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tendon disease, acute spinal injuries, musculoskeletal trauma and hand tendon dysfunction and repair.

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Osteoarthritis Research

The Osteoarthritis Research Team is a large and highly collaborative team which focuses on all aspects of clinical and translational research in osteoarthritis.

We work closely with multidisciplinary teams, including the Back Pain Research Team and are committed to designing and testing innovative, accessible, technology-based interventions that could accelerate recovery and decrease the burden of musculoskeletal pain globally.

Our research focuses on numerous aspects of osteoarthritis including the epidemiology of osteoarthritis, imaging in osteoarthritis, clinical trials, novel therapies in disease management and health services research for chronic disease management.

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Rehabilitation

The John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research focuses on research and education in rehabilitation and injury-related disability.

Our centre is part of the University of Sydney and the Kolling Institute, and our team has broad experience across a range of disciplines.

Our primary goals are to:

  • Generate new knowledge to improve health outcomes for people with injury related disability
  • Promote links with the research community, partner organisations, patient advocacy groups and non-government organisations, to support the effective transfer of research outcomes into health policy
  • Improve clinical care for people with injury-related disability and translate research outcomes into clinical practice.

The centre, which was formerly the Rehabilitation Studies Unit, receives major financial support from the NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority and NSW icare Lifetime Care.

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Rehabilitation

Sutton Arthritis Research Laboratory

The Sutton Arthritis Research Laboratory focuses on solving health issues related to inflammatory arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis. Our ultimate aim is to find a cure.

We also investigate other inflammatory forms of arthritis, including psoriatic arthritis, as well as inflammatory skin conditions.

Our research is both laboratory-based basic science and patient focused. This combination allows our research findings to be directly incorporated into clinical practice.

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Department of Rheumatology

The Rheumatology Department brings together scientific researchers and medical clinicians with a common interest in improving outcomes for those with musculoskeletal disorders.

We are currently conducting research into the causes, impact and treatment of a wide range of disorders.

While some of our key areas of research are focusing on osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and low back pain, our clinicians and researchers are also investigating osteonecrosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

Our researchers are members of national and international advisory committees that raise awareness and promote care and research for musculoskeletal conditions.

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Leadership Group:

Chairs:

Dr Elizabeth ClarkeAssociate Professor Elizabeth Clarke, PhD, BE (Mechanical Biomedical), BSc

Director, Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Laboratory
Kolling Institute
Northern Clinical School
Faculty of Medicine and Health

Professor Manuela Ferreira

Professor Medicine, Institute of Bone and Joint Research

Leadership Group members:

Professor Ian Cameron Professor Ian Cameron

Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Senior Staff Specialist Northern Sydney Local Health District

Professor Jim Elliott Professor James Elliott, PhD, PT, FAPTA

Professor of Allied Health NSLHD (Conjoint)
Director – Neuromuscular Imaging Research Laboratory

Professor David Hunter

Florance and Cope Chair of Rheumatology
Professor of Medicine, University of Sydney

Professor Christopher Little Professor Christopher Little

Director Raymond Purves Bone and Joint Research Labs
Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Northern Clinical School
Kolling Institute
Institute of Bone & Joint Research
Member of the Charles Perkins Centre

Professor Lyn March AM (1) Professor Lyn March AM

Liggins Professor of Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology Medicine, Northern Clinical School
Senior Staff Specialist and Head of the Department of Rheumatology at Royal North Shore Hospital

team-Professor-Michael-Nicholas Professor Michael Nicholas

Psychologist
Director, Pain Education Unit

Professor Bill Walter Professor Bill Walter

Professor of Orthopaedics and Traumatic
Chair of Institute of Bone and Joint Research
Surgery, The University of Sydney & Northern Sydney Local Health District (Royal North Shore Hospital)

 A/Professor Meilang Xue

Medicine, Northern Clinical School
Sutton Arthritis Research Laboratory

Dr Jillian Eyles

Research Fellow
Sydney Medical School/Northern Clinical School

Events, News and Seminars

Researchers join celebrations for national award

Researchers join celebrations for national award

Kolling Institute researchers have been recognised with a prestigious award for an initiative to sup..... Read more

Category: Awards, Research Excellence

International knee transplant study to inform future care

International knee transplant study to inform future care

New funding announced by the Federal Government will see researchers from the Kolling Institute and ..... Read more

Category: Funding support, Musculoskeletal Research

Kolling researchers join global effort to reduce heart disease in women

Kolling researchers join global effort to reduce heart disease in women

Two leading cardiovascular experts have been appointed to a prestigious world expert panel to reduce..... Read more

Category: Cardiovascular and Renal Research