The Body In Mind Research teams are divided between two sites – Neuroscience Research Australia, fondly called NeuRA, is located in Sydney and The Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of South Australia is located in Adelaide. Here are the team:
We reckon that an all too common problem with ‘science’ is that it is only ever broadcast to ‘scientists’. Even then, it is often in journals that are read by a tiny proportion of the community. So, we sat down and thought ‘how can we better disseminate what we do – that is, how do we get the message out there, be a credible and interesting source of commentary on things to do with our research?’ How can we facilitate all those lovely ideas out there into research? Our answer: Heidi. Heidi has set up, run, bugged us all about contributing to this website. She reckons it will serve the aim of the group – to disseminate and facilitate research into the brain and mind in chronic pain disorders. We reckon she is right. Here she is, in person, talking about what she does at BodyInMind.
Valeria obtained her degree in Cognitive and Neuro Psychology at the University of Pavia, in Italy. She worked for one and a half year as a psychologist at Niguarda Hospital in Milan, with children and adults affected with Focal Epilepsy and Parkinson Disease. She is now a final-year PhD student at the University of Milano – Bicocca currently working with Dr. Alberto Gallace as supervisor and spending the last part of her PhD as part of the BiM Adelaide group. Valeria’s work investigates the processing of tactile and painful stimuli in the context of multisensory integration and body representation. In particular, Valeria uses the Mirage box to perform bodily illusions in order to investigate self-localisation as in some painful conditions the organisation of peripersonal space has been found to be extremely relevant.
Valeria used to practice track and field, running the 400 metres. Her next aim is to run a marathon. As Helen (Gilpin) can confirm she has a special ability to open containers and key rings. What she misses most about Italy is having breakfast with biscuits but is enjoying learning the Aussie lingo and developing quite an Aussie twang!
Carolyn has been teaching with the Noisters (Neuro Orthopaedic Institute) for the last 10 years and finally got herself into research via a very competitive post-graduate scholarship. Not that she has every stopped studying – she already has a masters in physiotherapy and in pain science – good luck fitting PhD onto the business card! What is Carolyn researching for her PhD? Based at the University of South Australia in Adelaide Carolyn is looking at neurophysiological profiles between chronic pain and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) during working memory tasks.
What does Carolyn do day to day? Apart from rearranging the flowers on her desk and making room for Russian caravan tea from Abby, she’s onto the design of three studies that aim to investigate cognitive function in a group of people that pay a great deal of attention to their internal state (hypervigilant). That means lots of reading and a good deal time submitting ethics proposals. She is also an associate editor for BiM. Time away from the office is spent on an island 100km south of Adelaide, sailing, cooking and dreaming of the next holiday! Here is Carolyn talking more about the research she is doing.
Eva is an Austrian physiotherapist with a Masters degree in Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy – just like Daniel Harvie! She has started her divisional honours degree and is looking at how illusions can change pain. She also works in a private practice in Adelaide with a focus on patients with chronic pain.
Eva enjoys high intensity interval training – or at least she enjoys it after she finishes a session! She compensates for this with red wine and chocolate. Eva also has an ability to adapt her accent to whoever she speaks to.
Jane has an addiction to Vegemite, loves ice-cream, and tuna (but only dolphin-free!), and has just started her PhD at BiM. After finishing her Physiotherapy degree with Honours and working clinically for a year, Jane is now back into pain. Researching, not inflicting, that is. She is interested in pelvic pain, but the rest of her PhD story is yet to unfold.
Mark Catley is a PhD candidate in the Body in Mind Research Group (at University of South Australia) in Adelaide. When he is not busy researching, Mark works as a physiotherapist in a rehabilitation hospital. He is interested in the brain’s involvement in the transition from acute pain to chronic pain, and is currently investigating the relationship between cognitive variables, mood and sensory function in people with back pain.
He also has a very particular approach to cooking rice. For perfectly cooked rice: 2/3 cup rice, double that in COLD water, and then 8mins in microwave uncovered. Actually, he has a particular approach to many things – including windows. He is the only BiM team member you should ever get to clean a window.
Danny has over 16 years’ experience working in the area of sleep disorders, both as a researcher and in their clinical assessment at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. His research on both children and adults has identified compliance issues related to the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) and on excessive daytime sleepiness associated with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a complex genetic disorder. He completed his PhD on the effects of childhood eczema on sleep quality and subsequent secondary deficits in neurocognitive functioning and daytime behaviour. He has recently undertaken a Research Fellowship with the Body in Mind Group to investigate Chronic Pain through EEG methodologies. Danny is married to Yoko and they have an eight year old daughter, Niko. Together, they enjoy martial arts, particularly Iaido, camping, movies, furniture restoration, good food and their garden.
Flavia Di Pietro
Flavia Di Pietro completed her PhD with the Body in Mind Sydney group early in 2014. Her project used functional MRI to investigate the brain’s patterns of activity in people with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) of the upper limb. She now works as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Sydney with Associate Professor Luke Henderson. They are researching the electrical and chemical function of the brain in people with chronic orofacial pain.
Here is a link to Flavia’s published research.
Helen worked and completed her MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging at the University of Nottingham, before continuing her research as part of the Body In Mind team. She has a specific interest in the mechanisms underlying body representation and multisensory integration, with a particular focus on the relationship between body representation disturbances and chronic pain.
Helen is now looking to pursue a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology back in the UK with a view to specialising in chronic pain management.
Luzia obtained a postdoctoral research fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation and then joined the Body in Mind group in Adelaide. She completed her Masters degree in Neuropsychology at the University of Zurich, started her PhD at the University of Lausanne – by the beautiful lake of Geneva – and finished at the University of Bern. Her PhD was all about the tiny but mighty vestibular system and its implications on cognitive tasks like mental imagery.
In an effort to combine her previous research interests with the clinical manifestations of pain, she is now looking at the influence of vestibular stimulation on pain. In particular, she is interested in assessing the underlying changes in body representation that can be altered in people with chronic pain.
Luzia has relocated with her family (husband and two very smiley daughters) from the mountainous cold that is Switzerland to the big flat dry land that is Australia. She is embracing the opportunity to live close to the sea and go riding along the beach.
Daniel is a PhD candidate in the Body in Mind Research Group at UniSA. He has a clinical physiotherapy background and is a graduate of the Master of Musculoskeletal and Sports degree at The University of South Australia. His research uses a classical conditioning (associative learning) paradigm to look at the transference of injury related responses to previously meaningless stimuli.
He is currently in Belgium undertaking research with the likes of Ann Meulders and Johan Vlaeyen (best known for their fear-avoidance related research). He enjoys writing and recording music and has a bionic knee.
Markus Hübscher is a research officer at Neuroscience Research Australia and a member of the pain research group headed by Lorimer Moseley. Before coming to Australia in 2011 to do his postdoc in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Sydney University, he worked for several years as a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Sports Medicine, University of Frankfurt, Germany, where he received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Sports Science.
The overarching focus of his research is the prevention and management of musculoskeletal conditions such as spinal pain and sports injuries. He is especially interested in the relationship between pain, biomechanics and sensory-motor control. The role of physical activity and exercise to enhance, maintain or restore performance and musculoskeletal health is another important area of his research.
Tracy has been with the BiM team since the beginning and is our go-to person. Responsible for all admin matters, including things such as: publications, finance, travel, event management and grant applications. Tracy holds a key role in the organisation of PainAdelaide. Her previous roles have included PA to Head of School, Finance Office and Program Support. She loves camping, travelling, spending time of the glorious Murray River. Overall she is our go-to person for herding cats!
Hopin has joined us from the land of the long white clouds (New Zealand) to conduct his PhD through Neuroscience Research Australia and UNSW. Before moving to Sydney, Hopin completed his Research Masters degree at the University of Otago whilst working part-time as a Physiotherapist at an acute sports injury clinic. He is particularly interested in fresh acute injuries and how we can best manage them during the early stages to prevent long term consequences. For his PhD, he will apply some fancy statistical models to tease out the psychological mechanisms that may play a role in the early management of low back pain. Hopin also does some research on social media and its use in healthcare and the dissemination of research findings.
In his spare time, Hopin plays football (the one where you’re not allowed to use your hands) and mindfully regulates his OCD towards music CDs and records
Tory arrived from South Africa to start her PhD at BiM. She is a physiotherapist who worked clinically before turning her focus toward research. She is interested in pretty much anything related to pain and neuroscience, thanks to some particularly inspirational teaching by Romy Parker during her undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town.
Tory’s research looks at classical conditioning and pain. She is also an associate editor for BiM. She tries to spend much of her spare time exercising to compensate for the vast quantity of chocolate that lives in her bottom desk drawer. Luckily, she loves trail running as much as she does food.
James is a senior researcher at the BiM research group at NeuRA. James came to BiM with a excellent pedigree having worked at with Back Pain Research Group at Sydney University and the George Institute. His research interests are in back pain and clinical pain.
James is possibly the most interesting research in the world – former club promoter, bar/restaurant and night club operator, underground house music connoisseur, psuedo-vegetarian (for the most interesting of reasons), moped rider and psychologist (yes – that does make him interesting). James has a PhD from Brunel Uni, UK on cultural influences in back pain.
In 2004 he moved to Australia to the Universty of Sydney and George Institute, helping to set up and run these research groups. His research is in identifying and treating risk factors for chronic back pain and developing approaches to improve management of chronic low back pain. Recently he has become interested in novel strategies for managing clinical pain in the real world. Link to James’ published research here.
Luke Parkitny completed his PhD at Neuroscience Research Australia looking at the role of inflammation in recovery from a fracture and the development of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
Luke joined the Body in Mind team with a background of clinical practice but is now firmly sold on a career involving asking questions, trying to answer them, and somehow getting funding to pay for it all (i.e. research). Luke is still “chuffed to bits” (to borrow a phrase from Lorimer) at having been selected by the IASP to continue his work as a postdoctorate research fellow at Stanford University in the USA in 2014. There, Luke is working on neuroimmunomodulatory pharmacotherapy of pain with Dr. Jarred Younger and Prof Mark Davis. Here are links to Luke’s published research.
Em joined the BiM group when she started her honours degree in nociceptive spatial summation, while studying Physiotherapy. Em has just finished her degree and is currently working as a research assistant at BiM after being sucked into the pain world, and the antics of the BiM group. She is not yet sure what her future holds, but she knows she loves learning and loves working with people, so both further study, and clinical work is likely. When Em isn’t worrying about her future, you can find her baking BiM-approved allergen-free treats, climbing lofty, cycling the summit, kicking boxing bags, attempting to translate basketball into netball, or collapsing in a heap on the couch!
Cassie obtained her degrees in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Psychology at the University of Colorado Denver. She is now pursuing a Masters of Health Psychology at the University of Sydney. Before joining NeuRA as research assistant, Cassie was a clinical research assistant at the Haemophilia and Thrombosis Centre at the University of Colorado.
Cassie also enjoys rock climbing, bush walking, and anything outdoors!
Leslie is on sabbatical from teaching physical therapy at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, where temperatures can get down to -30C in the winter. She got her PhD in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins, in the US, before going into physical therapy and getting a clinical doctorate from Simmons University in Boston. Her clinical expertise is with patients who have chronic pain due to fibromyalgia, headaches or hypermobility syndrome. Her research background includes kinesiophobia and balance dysfunction in people with fibromyalgia, and sources of pain in people with hypermobility syndrome. She has taught continuing education courses on headaches and hypermobility, and has written about chronic pain. She has a black belt in Aikido, a non-violent martial art, and expects to miss her Great Dane, Bandit, terribly while she is here.
Based at Neuroscience Research Australia Ian is the newest member working on the very popular Prevent low back pain trial. Ian originally completed a Bachelor of Management in Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Technology Sydney. This provided the perfect backdrop to pursue one of Ian’s other interests in coaching rugby. The west was calling though and Ian headed to Notre Dame in Perth, Western Australia to train as a Physiotherapist. Ian soon became infatuated with the biopsychosocial model spawning what is quickly becoming an ongoing fascination with the complexity of pain. Frustrated at the treatment options for chronic back pain Ian has begun is PhD investigating attentional bias and cortical changes in low back pain patients. Ian is very excited for the day that chronic pain is easily treated, or even prevented before it becomes an issue, and he can enjoy his days drinking cocktails by a beach in the Caribbean.
Tasha Stanton is a postdoctoral research fellow working with the Body in Mind Research Group in Adelaide at University of South Australia as well as in Sydney (at Neuroscience Research Australia). Tash has done a bit of hopping around in her career, from studying physio in her undergrad, to spinal biomechanics in her Master’s, to clinical epidemiology in her PhD, and now to clinical neuroscience in her postdocs. Amazingly, there has been a common thread through all this hopping and that common thread is pain. What is pain? Why do we have it? And why doesn’t it go away?
Tasha got herself one of the very competitive NHMRC early career fellowships and is well on the way to establishing her own line of very interesting investigations. Her research interests lie in understanding the neuroscience behind pain and its clinical implications. She also really likes nifty experiments that may have no clinical value yet, but whose coolness factor tops the charts. Last, Tash is a bit mad about running, enjoying a good red with friends and organizing theme parties. Tasha, aka Stanton Deliver, was the all round best performer at the Inaugural BiM Table Tennis Comp. Here is a link to Tasha’s published research.
Abby has a very posh English accent, and clearly doesn’t like granola bars. What brought Abby out to Oz? Abby first got an inkling for what pain really was after listening to Mick Thacker during her undergraduate degree at King’s College London. It was his inspiration, along with a certain Moseley style Explain Pain experience that led her to the other side of the world to delve deeper into the world of pain.
She finally agreed to return to the UK, on one condition, that they would let her come back to the land down under to do part of her PhD. Still in the early days of research she is nurturing a nice little coffee habit and asking a lot about how philosophy can fit into our understanding of pain. Here is Abby talking more about what she does.
Adrian is doing his PhD through Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney looking at a new treatment for low back pain. His background is in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, where he found himself coming back to the same (currently) unanswerable questions: “Why do some treatments work brilliantly for one person and not for the next?”; “What are our treatments for spinal pain actually doing?”. He has a sneaking suspicion that the more we find out about the nervous system, the closer we will come to some answers.
Outside of back pain research, Adrian loves fried chicken, good country songs and animals with flat faces. He doesn’t like highway driving, Nickelback or confrontation.
Sarah is working on her PhD at BiM Adelaide. Her interest is in defensive bodily space. She is also working part-time as a physic and is an associate editor for BiM. Sarah finished an Honours thesis in normative left/right neck rotation judgments in 2010 and also worked as a part-time research assistant here at BiM in 2012. Now she has started her PhD it seems that Sarah just can’t get enough of this place! She absolutely loves anything outdoorsy, from rock climbing to kayaking, and cops a lot from her fellow BiMers about her outdoor gear and habits.
She completed her undergraduate degree in New Zealand and her Masters of Science in Applied Biomechanics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Scotland. Her inspiration to do more research in the area of pain has been from her work with chronic pain patients particularly at INPUT, pain management unit in London. Following her last stint there, Audrey recently relocated to the warmer climes of Sydney, Australia, with her family to work on her PhD looking at recovery of CRPS post wrist fracture among other things.
Di has had a long career as a physiotherapist, dividing her time between clinical work in private practice and lecturing at the University of South Australia. In the private practice setting, she has worked with chronic pain patients and has been involved in the delivery of a CBT program for compensable chronic pain patients.
The complexity and science of chronic pain has intrigued her and she completed an Honours degree on the Language of Pain a few years ago. Delving into the pain literature ignited an interest that won’t go away and so she has embarked on a PhD in the later stages of her career! At this early stage of her research, she hopes to investigate the group effect in pain management programs.
Dianne’s life is centred around physiotherapy and family (she is also married to a physiotherapist and their children are the focus of any spare time they share). Dianne also has a love of music – all types (except Country and Western), reading, dancing and walking. Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island is a favourite retreat.