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Geelong-based researcher Miss Haslinda Gould has won international recognition by being awarded one of eight International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Young Investigator Awards.
Haslinda received her award at the recent joint annual scientific meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society (ANZBMS), Japanese Society of Bone and Mineral Research (JSBMR) and the IOF held on the Gold Coast.
Her award winning work entitled Normative ultrasound data for population-based Australian men and women: the Geelong Osteoporosis Study.
“It is important that both the quantity and quality of bone be monitored over time, especially in older people,” said Haslinda, a PhD student working in the Barwon Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit at Geelong Hospital, a partnership between Barwon Health and Deakin University’s School of Medicine.
Her work also involves the University of Melbourne’s NorthWest Academic Centre, Department of Medicine.
“Currently the gold standard technique for the clinical assessment of bone mass is dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) which measures the quantity of bone in terms of bone mineral density (BMD). However, there is limited access to DXA in some populations," she said.
“Ultrasound performed at the heel has been suggested as an alternative or adjunct to DXA; it measures bone quality and it is safer, cheaper, faster and more portable than DXA.
“Often an individual’s BMD is used to inform the clinical decision to prescribe preventative treatment for fracture. Comparing an individual’s bone quality, measured using ultrasound at the heel, to a young adult reference standard, may improve fracture risk assessment; the development of appropriate reference or normative data will make this comparison possible.
“To the best of our knowledge, this study provides the first heel ultrasound reference ranges for the Australian population.
“It is important that the investigation into more effective and equitable ways to assess fracture risk continues.”
Haslina gained her honours degree in Science at the University of Melbourne before beginning her PhD in Geelong.
She works under the supervision of Deakin University’s Associate Professor Julie Pasco at Barwon Health, with the Barwon Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit in Kitchener House. At the heart of the unit lies the Geelong Osteoporosis Study (GOS), an umbrella term for a program of research involving large case-control and prospective population-based studies in both men and women.
The primary focus of the GOS is to describe the burden of osteoporosis in the general population and to identify risk factors for fracture. The study was initiated in 1993; since then 1700 women and 1500 men, randomly-selected from the electoral rolls, return to the study centre at Barwon Health every few years to have their health monitored.
The scope of the GOS has expanded over time to study the causes of other disorders including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, coeliac disease, wheat atopy and psychiatric illness. More recently, Haslinda has helped to develop a research program which examines risk factors for the assessment of elderly Australians for aged care services.