This theme captures the long-standing research strength of the school in musculoskeletal pain, injury and health.

The theme is notable for hosting two NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence (CCRE in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health; CRE in Translational Research in Musculoskeletal Pain) and the only physiotherapy-led NHMRC Program Grant. The focus of activity of the staff and students engaged in this theme is musculoskeletal conditions that are highlighted in the Global Burden of Diseases data as the leading international causes of disability, such as low back pain and osteoarthritis. The emphasis is on conservative (non-surgical/non-drug) treatments as these are the cornerstone of management. The vision of this theme is for a model of care along a continuum from early identification of risk factors and disease to enable judicious strategies to mitigate risk, slow progression, and prevent transition from acute to chronic; through to more intensive treatment for those who enter care later or those who progress, with individualised care targeted to their phenotype to slow disease progression, ameliorate symptoms and reduce disability; to later stage management with aims such as appropriate referral for drug/surgical treatment (if supported by evidence) and strategies to reduce disability. The work in this theme simultaneously addresses different steps along this continuum, proactively targeting elements where we can most rapidly achieve change.


  • Key focus on knowledge translation to all consumers, including healthcare practitioners and the broader community
  • Investigation of clinically meaningful research questions, through internal and external partnerships (e.g. health care services, advocacy organisations)
  • Large portfolio of clinical trials to test novel interventions
  • Cohort studies to identify risk factors for development and progression of musculoskeletal disease
  • Generate new understanding of physiological, biomechanical and inflammatory mechanisms underlying musculoskeletal conditions
  • Specific expertise in qualitative research methods to gain in depth understanding of individual experiences with musculoskeletal pain, injury and health
  • Mentoring and training for early career academics and students

Staff overview

Chair: Bill Vicenzino, Chair of Sports Physiotherapy

Chair: Paul Hodges, Professor and NHMRC SPRF

Deputy: Natalie Collins, Lecturer

Academic and Research Staff

Yaheli Bet-OR, Lecturer

Sandy Brauer, Acting Head of School

Andrew Claus, Lecturer

Roma Forbes, Lecturer

Elise Gane, Conjoint Research Fellow

Sjaan Gomersall, Senior Lecturer

Hannah Gullo, Lecturer

Anna Hatton, Senior Lecturer

Venerina Johnston, Associate Professor

Asad Khan, Associate Professor  

Liam Maclachlan, Research Fellow

Rebecca Mellor, Senior Academic Research Officer

Shaun O’Leary, Senior Research Fellow

Trevor Russell, Head of Physiotherapy

Sauro Salomoni, Research Fellow

Dion Scott, Principal Scientific Officer

Jenny Setchell, NHMRC Research Fellow

Melinda Smith, UQ Development Fellow

Michelle Smith, Senior Lecturer

Esther Smits, Research Fellow

Lucy Thomas, Lecturer

Julia Treleaven, Lecturer/Senior Researcher

Wolbert van den Hoorn, Research Fellow


Clinic Staff

Amy Fagan, Clinical Operations Manager

Karen Groves, Clinical Educator

Research projects

Project Title

Funding body


Efficacy of a personalised pelvic floor Muscle Training program on Urinary incontinence after radical Prostatectomy (MaTchUP)


Paul Hodges, Ryan Stafford, Geoff Coughlin, Jessica Kasza, James Ashton-Miller,  Anne Cameron, Luke Connelly, Leanne Hall

MyBackPain: Evaluation of an innovative consumer-focused website for low back pain

Medibank Better Health Fund Grant

Leanne Hall, Manuela Ferreira, Jenny Setchell, Simon French, Jessica Kasza, Kim Bennell, David Hunter, Bill Vicenzino, Chris Dickson, Paul Hodges

Musculoskeletal pain and disability: improving outcomes through conservative interventions

NHMRC Program Grant

Paul Hodges, Kim Bennell, David Hunter, Bill Vicenzino

Centre of Research Excellence in Translation of Research into Improved Outcomes in Musculoskeletal Pain & Health (CRE TRIUMPH)


Kim Bennell , David Hunter, Paul Hodges, Rachelle Buchbinder, Marie Pirotta, Rana Hinman, Anthony Harris, Nadine Foster, Susie Michie, Bill Vicenzino

The role of neuroimmune response on sensorimotor function in people with chronic low back pain


International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine

Hugo Massé-Alarie, Paul Hodges, Marco Loggia , Michael Farrell, P Cumming

HAPPI knees! A feasibility trial of shoe inserts for adolescents with patellofemoral pain

Molly Saint Grant, Arthritis Australia

Natalie Collins, Steven Kamper, Marienke van Middelkoop, Kay Crossley

Patellofemoral osteoarthritis: progression and prevention in young to middle-aged adults with chronic patellofemoral pain

Arthritis Queensland Fellowship; Arthritis Australia

Natalie Collins

Can shoe inserts reduce the burden of kneecap osteoarthritis?

NHMRC Project Grant


Kay Crossley, Hylton Menz, Trevor Russell, Anne Smith, Natalie Collins,

Implementation of GLA:D in Queensland public health services: towards a standardized non-surgical management approach for hip and knee osteoarthritis

Research Grant; RBWH Foundation

Maree Raymer, Shaun O'Leary, Michelle Cottrell, Natalie Collins, Michelle Smith, Liam Maclachlan, Bill Vicenzino, Tracy Comans, Joanne Kemp, Christian Barton, Kay Crossley

Painful mid-foot osteoarthritis - peering inside the foot to understand the structural and functional consequences of a common, but poorly understood disease

HaBS Research Collaboration Grant; The University of Queensland

Luke Kelly, Natalie Collins, Michelle Smith, Melinda Smith, Andrew Cresswell

The biomechanical profile and effectiveness of foot orthoses in ankle osteoarthritis

HaBS-Medicine Grant; The University of Queensland

Michelle Smith,  Taylor Dick, Kylie Tucker, Natalie Collins, Francois Hug, Bill Vicenzino

Intrinsic foot muscle activity during standing balance tasks in adults with hallux valgus compared to controls.

Australian Podiatry Education and Research Foundation Research Grant

Sheree Hurn, Aaron Wholohan, Melinda Smith, Karen Mickle

Redefining exercise prescription for plantar heel pain: an evaluation of intrinsic foot muscle deficits and targeted muscle training

Early Career Researcher Grant; The University of Queensland

Melinda Smith

Identifying optimal sit-stand recommendations for office workers with low back pain

Office Ergonomics Research Committee, US


Charlotte Brakenridge, Venerina Johnston, Michelle Smith, Sjaan Gomersall

Improving low back pain healthcare delivery: Enhancing the biopsychosocial model.

NHMRC Early Career Fellowship

Jenny Setchell

Translating low back pain research: Identifying potential harms in health messaging

Arthritis Australia Grant in Aid


Jenny Setchell, Paul Hodges, Merrill Turpin

Improving low back pain healthcare delivery: Enhancing the biopsychosocial model


UQ Early Career Researcher Grant Scheme


Jenny Setchell

HRD students





Zohre Abedi


A/Prof Venerina Johnston, Dr Elise Gane

Development and validation of a simple screening tool to be used by case managers to identify those at risk of non-recovery after a road traffic crash

Abby Adalja


A/Prof Venerina Johnston, Prof Michele Sterling

Identifying barriers for return to work after a road traffic crash

Kazi  Ahmed


A/Prof Asad Khan

A School-based Intervention to Promote Physical Activity among High School Students in Bangladesh

Sultan Alanazi


Dr Michelle Smith, Prof Bill Vicenzino

The management of ankle osteoathritis

Ameer Alhusuny


A/Prof Venerina Johnson, Dr Margaret Cook, Dr Akram Khalil

Neck/Shoulder and Vision Problems in Surgeons Performing Minimally Invasive Surgeries

Mansour Alshehri


Prof Paul Hodges, Dr David Klyne, Dr Wolbert van den Hoorn

Relationship between motor control of the trunk and recurrence/persistence of low back pain

Yousef Alyousef


Dr Michelle Smith, Dr Venerina Johnston

The use of standing work stations in relation to low back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions in office workers

Manuela Besomi


Prof Paul Hodges, Prof Bill Vicenzino 

Running for health: predictors of injuries that limit uptake of running to optimise health

Nathalia Costa


Prof Paul Hodges, A/Prof Manuela Ferreira, Dr Jenny Setchell

Flare up in chronic low back pain patients: developing an understanding of the pattern and triggers of flare-ups in low back pain

David Cowley


Prof Paul Hodges, Dr Ryan Stafford

Efficacy of a personalised pelvic floor Muscle Training program on Urinary incontinence after radical Prostatectomy: A randomised clinical trial with embedded physiological studies

Michael Donovan


A/Prof Venerina Johnston, A/Prof Asad Khan

Addressing work-related musculoskeletal disorders -- experience from a poultry meat processing plant

Matthew Freke


Dr Adam Semciw, A/Prof Kay Crossley, Kevin Sims, Prof Trevor Russell

The role of hip extension in people with hip pathology

Lori Forner


Dr Michelle Smith, Dr Emma Beckman, Prof Paul Hodges

Towards better understanding and management of pelvic floor disorders in women engaged in high intensity exercise: The effects of strenuous exercise and vaginal pessaries on pelvic organ descent in females

Olivia Galea


Dr Shaun O’Leary, Dr Juila Treleavan

Do impairments exist beyond expected recovery time following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and what is their relationship with self-reported symptoms?

Jonathan Hill


Dr Natalie Collins, Prof Kay Crossley, A/Prof Edwin Oei

Animal assisted occupational therapy invterventions and in-session engagement of children on the autism spectrum

Andrew Hislop


Dr Natalie Collins, Dr Adam Semciw, Dr Kylie Tucker

Muscle activity and morphology in hip related pain

Peter Lawrenson


Dr Adam Semciw, Prof Kay Crossley, Prof Bill Vicenzino, Prof Paul Hodges

Muscle activity and morphology in hip related pain

Zhiqi Liang


 Dr Julia Treleavan, Dr Lucy Thomas, EmPr Gwendolen Jull

Sensorimotor and somatosensory differences amongst patients with different headache forms and neck pain

Isobel O’Sullivan


Dr Natalie Collins, Prof Bill Vicenzino, Dr Melinda Smith

Exploring foot characteristics and treatments in adolescents with patellofemoral pain

Melanie Plinsinga


Prof Bill Vicenzino, Dr Brooke Coombes

Neurological and psychosocial profiles in people with Achilles- and patellar tendinopathy

Megan Ross


Dr Michelle Smith, Prof Bill Vicenzino, Prof Paul Hodges

Understanding the impact and progression of adult acquired flat foot disorder

Muath Shraim


Prof Paul Hodges, Dr Hugo Massé-Alarie

Understanding chronic pain mechanisms: differentiating pain types

Louise Tier


Prof Paul Hodges, Dr Sauro Salomoni

Sequential activation of the deep core stabilisers in treating lower back pain. Do fascial connections play a significant role?

Viana Vuvan


Prof Bill Vicenzino, Prof Paul Hodges, A/Prof Michael Farrell

The role of the brain in chronic lateral epicondylalgia and its management

Yanfei Xie


A/Prof Venerina Johnston, Dr Lucy Thomas, Dr Brooke Coombes

Characterization of muscle, sensory, and psychosocial features of idiopathic neck pain among sonographers

Haroun Zerguine


A/Prof Venerina Johnston, A/Prof Genevieve Healy

The importance of sit-stand workstations to facilitate a change in sedentary behaviour and impact musculoskeletal discomfort in sedentary office workers

Featured publications

Name of publication


ISSLS PRIZE IN BASIC SCIENCE 2019: Physical activity attenuates fibrotic alterations to the multifidus muscle associated with intervertebral disc degeneration. European Spine Journal, 28(5) 893-904. (2019)

Greg James, David Klyne, M Millecamp, L Stone, Paul Hodges

Hybrid approach to treatment tailoring for low back pain: A proposed model of care. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 49(6) 453-463. (2019)

Paul Hodges

A definition of flare in low back pain (LBP): A multiphase process involving perspectives of individuals with LBP and expert consensus. Journal of Pain. (2019)

Nathalia Costa, Manuela Ferreira, Jenny Setchell, Joanna Makovey, Tanya Dekoo, Aron Downie, Ashish Diwan, Bart Koes, Bard Natvig, Bill Vicenzino, David Hunter, Eric Roseen, Eva Rasmussen-Barr, Francis Guillemin, Jan Hartvigsen, Kim Bennell, Leonardo Costa, Luciana Macedo, Paul Hodges

Location specific responses to nociceptive input support the purposeful nature of motor adaptation to pain. Pain, 159(11) 2192-2200. (2018)

Alessio Gallina, Sauro Salomoni, Leanne Hall, Kylie Tucker, S. Garland, Paul Hodges

ISSLS PRIZE IN CLINICAL SCIENCE 2018: longitudinal analysis of inflammatory, psychological, and sleep-related factors following an acute low back pain episode-the good, the bad, and the ugly. European Spine Journal, 27(4) 763-77. (2018)

David Klyne, Mary Barbe, Wolbert Van den Hoorn, Paul Hodges

Prevalence of radiographic and MRI features of patellofemoral osteoarthritis in young and middle-aged adults with persistent patellofemoral pain. Arthritis Care & Research. (2018)

Natalie Collins, Edwin Oei, Jenneke de Kanter, Bill Vicenzino, Kay Crossley

Education plus exercise versus corticosteroid injection use versus a wait and see approach on global outcome and pain from gluteal tendinopathy: prospective, single blinded, randomised clinical trial. British Medical Journal, 361:k1662. (2018)

Rebecca Mellor, Kim Bennell, Alison Grimaldi, Philippa Nicolson, Jessica Kasza, Paul Hodges, Henry Wajswelner, Bill Vicenzino

The impact of workplace ergonomics and neck-specific exercise versus ergonomics and health promotion interventions on office worker productivity: A cluster-randomized trial. Scand J Work Environ Health 45 (1) 42-52. 2018)

Michelle Pereira Tracy Comans, Gisela Sjogaard, Leon Straker, Markus Melloh, Shaun O’Leary, Xiaoqi Chen, Venerina Johnston  

Individuals' explanations for their persistent or recurrent low back pain: A cross-sectional surveyBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 18 (1) 466 (2017)

Jenny Setchell, Nathalia Costa, Manuel Ferreira, Joanna Makovey, Mandy Nielsen, Paul Hodges

The psychological features of patellofemoral pain: a cross-sectional study. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 18 (2)261-271. (2018)

Liam Maclachlan, Mark Matthews, Paul Hodges, Natalie CollinsBill Vicenzino


Physiotherapy Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital


  • 2019 - The ISSLS Prize for Lumbar Spine Research (Basic Science) - Foremost international award for back pain research, awarded by the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine – Greg James, David Klyne and Paul Hodges,
  • 2018 - The ISSLS Prize for Lumbar Spine Research (Clinical Science) – David Klyne, Wolbert van den Hoorn and Paul Hodges
  • 2019 - Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science – Paul Hodges
  • 2019 - Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts & Sciences – Paul Hodges
  • 2019 - Fulbright Fellowship – David Klyne

See our research in action


For all general current HDR student queries and enquiries related to applications contact the HDR Liaison Officer: or +61 7 3365 7123

For all enquiries related to research in the School, contact the Senior Administration Officer (Research): or +61 7 3365 2074

  • Dr Natalie Collins

    Lecturer in Physiotherapy
    School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Professor Paul Hodges

    Chair, Research and Postgraduate Studies Committee
    Prof&NHMRC Snr Principal Res Fel
    School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Professor Bill Vicenzino

    Professor in Physiotherapy
    School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences