My Research

I have spent most of my almost 30-year career at the Garvan Institute working on the epidemiology and genetics of osteoporosis, a field of research that I have made substantive contributions. The primary focus of my research program is on the discovery and translation of etiological and genetic factors that determine an individual’s risk of fracture and adverse outcomes. I pursue both epidemiological and genetic research, often combining the two, to address important issues that lead to better treatment and control of osteoporosis.

I consider that osteoporosis can be treated more effectively by improving the way we identify at-risk people early. Over the past 25 years, I have made cutting-edge contributions to those aspects of osteoporosis. I have extended the knowledge of my core discipline through using innovative methodologies to give new insights into etiology of bone mass, fracture risk assessment, and genetics of osteoporosis. Some of my work may be highlighted as follows:

  • uncovered and defined the effects of etiological factors, including postural sway, muscle weakness and bone loss, that contribute to fracture susceptibility, its adverse outcomes and mortality;
  • advanced the concept of individual risk assessment; translated our epidemiologic findings into the Garvan Fracture Risk Calculator (2007) that has been used by doctors and patients worldwide;
  • identified a set of genetic variants that are associated with bone mineral density and fracture, and from which created an Osteogenomic Profile for predicting fracture risk;
  • first documented the epidemiology of fragility fractures in men;
  • defined the pattern of bone loss in men and women, and demonstrated that excessive bone loss was associated with fracture risk;
  • demonstrated that all major fractures were associated with increased risk of mortality;
  • developed predictive models for determining the time to repeat bone mineral density.

Research Projects

A large component of my research has been based on two major research projects:

I am a principal investigator of the Dubbo Osteoporosis Study which is commonly referred to as “DOES“. The Study was initiated in 1989, and I joined the research group in 1990. Since its inception, DOES has made important and substantial contributions to the field of osteoporosis internationally. More than 100 papers have been published in international peer–reviewed literature, with more than 10,000 citations.

I have established the Bone and Muscle Research Laboratory at Ton Duc Thang University (Vietnam). The lab is equipped with a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (Hologic Horizon, USA), a peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT, Stratec, Germany), a system of balance and muscle testing, and a system of digital X-ray for imaging analyses. The lab is also a training ground for doctors and scientists who are interested in (as the name implies) bone and muscle research. I am looking for scientists and doctors who have a good track record of bone research to join the lab.

In 2015, with a support from the University, Dr. Lan Ho-Pham and I initiated the Vietnam Osteoporosis Study (VOS) considered to be one of the largest studies of its kind in Asia. VOS will make substantial contributions to osteoporosis research nationally and internationally.