Monash PhD students recognised at the Australia New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society’s annual meeting



2017 ANZBMS

School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health PhD students Alexander Rodriguez and Dr Jasna Aleksova received prestigious awards from the Australia New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society (ANZBMS) in Brisbane last week.

Alexander received the 2017 Christine & T. Jack Martin Research Travel Grant, an award in memory of Christine Martin that also honours the outstanding and major scientific contributions of Professor T. Jack Martin to bone and mineral research.

Alexander will use the $15,000 grant to travel to Odense, Denmark to work with Professor Bo Abrahamsen from the University of Southern Denmark.

“My current research investigates how bone and muscle loss can effect cardiovascular risk in old age, and I plan to collaborate with Professor Abrahamsen to examine how anti-osteoporosis therapies, which we think are helping us by making our bones healthier, may actually have harmful cardiovascular side-effects,” Alexander said.

“I hope that this research will enable us to identify who is at least cardiovascular risk from these medications and thus avoid potential adverse events whilst still remaining on osteoporosis treatment.”

Alexander’s supervisor and Head, Department of Medicine Professor Peter Ebeling AO said this research comes at a critical time, as two anti-osteoporosis drugs, strontium ranelate and odanacatib, have recently been withdrawn from the market because of cardiovascular safety concerns.

“Alexander’s research will help us understand who may be better suited to the many different treatment options available and by targeting therapy to increase benefit and to reduce potential harm,” Professor Ebeling said.

Fellow PhD student in the Bone and Muscle Research Group and Monash Health Endocrinologist, Dr Jasna Aleksova, won the Professor Philip Sambrook Young Investigator Travel Award which is awarded to an outstanding early career scientist or clinical researcher.

Dr Aleksova’s research evaluates novel risk factors associated with fractures in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and those with kidney transplants.

“These patients have a high burden of fractures and associated mortality, however, the current diagnostic tools used to evaluate patients with osteoporosis are less useful in patients with CKD,” Dr Aleksova said.

“CKD now affects one in ten Australians so urgent strategies are needed to identify and treat those at highest risk of fracture.”

“My research focuses on the role of hypogonadism in CKD and post-transplantation and the validation of novel imaging techniques, including the trabecular bone score and structural hip analyses, to better predict patients who are at the greatest risk of fracture,” she said.

Dr. Aleksova will use this grant to present some of her work at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research annual meeting in Denver later this year where she will also be meeting with potential collaborators from Columbia University.

Senior Research Fellow Dr David Scott also from the Bone and Muscle Research Group had his abstract ‘Sarcopenic obesity is associated with lower tibial cortical area and thickness and poor physical function in community-dwelling older adults’ selected for an oral presentation at the ANZBMS scientific meeting last week.

Dr Scott said his study demonstrates that important indicators of bone quality, which are usually improved in obese individuals, may be compromised if muscle quality is also poor.

“The findings highlight the need for specific assessments and interventions to target bone health in obese older adults,” Dr Scott said.