I am incredibly honored and humbled to be appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). It came with a total surprise. But it also came at a very special time to me, because 40 years ago on this day (26/1/1982) I came to Australia as a ‘boat people’.
The citation for my honor reads : “For significant service to medical research, particularly in the field of osteoporosis and fracture prevention, and to tertiary education.”
I am absolutely delighted that the importance of medical research is acknowledged through this honor. I am also happy that my continued efforts to improve health outcomes for people affected by osteoporosis have been recognized in this way.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words on osteoporosis, medical research, and higher education.
Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that affects one-third of women and one-tenth of men aged 50 years and older. Osteoporosis causes bone fractures, and fracture increases the risk of premature mortality and hence reduced life expectancy. My overall goal is to improve life expectancy for people affected by osteoporosis. My research focuses on precision risk assessment to empower people to take preventive actions to reduce their own risk of osteoporosis.
During my 40 yr in Australia, I have spent 30 yr at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and 6 yr at UTS. My affiliation with the Institute began with a fortunate interview with Professor John Eisman who subsequently became my mentor and dear friend. In the interview, John convinced me that working in medical research could help millions of people. At the time (1991) the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study had just commenced, and John needed an epidemiologist and a biostatistician to work on the project. He found out that I could do both jobs, so he employed only me. I did my PhD from this study. After a stint in the US, I returned to Garvan in 2000 to lead the Genetics and Epidemiology of Osteoporosis Lab.
For over 30 yr, I would like to think that we have made many substantive contributions to the field. We advanced the concept of individualized risk assessment. We have developed and implemented tools for individualized risk assessment that…