Invited Speakers

To view recordings of select presentations click here

Professor Sallie Lamb

Professor Sallie Lamb will deliver the Inaugural Back and Neck Pain Forum Oration

“Professor Lamb is the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Medicine and Health and the Mireille Gillings Professor for Health Innovation at the University of Exeter. She is also an Honorary Departmental Professor at the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. Previously Professor Lamb was Director for Centre for Statistics in Medicine, Foundation Director at the Oxford Clinical Trials Research Unit and Centre for Rehabilitation Research, University of Oxford. She has a long-standing interest in clinical trials, medical statistics and, rehabilitation of musculoskeletal and chronic conditions in older people. She works with clinicians to develop pragmatic clinical trial designs to capture the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a variety of health interventions. She is the Chief Investigator for a number of trials of rehabilitation interventions. Professor Lamb has served as Board Chair for the National Institute of Health Research Health Technology Programme.  Professor Lamb is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Statistical Society, and Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and has served as a member of the American Geriatric Society/ British Geriatric Society Fall Guideline Panel and the NICE guideline panel of hip fracture management.”

The Back and Neck Pain Oration

Interventions for Back and Neck Pain

Professor Steven George

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University

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Psychologically Informed Therapy

Professor Ian Harris

UNSW Medicine

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Surgery for spinal pain: what is the evidence?

Associate Professor Jill Hayden

Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Exercise treatment for chronic low back pain: what we know, and where we need to go

Professor Paul Jarle Mork

Department of Public Health and Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

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Dr Jonathan Hill

Director for Research for the School of Allied Health Professionals, Keele University, England

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Professor Paul Hodges

Paul W. Hodges DSc MedDr PhD BPhty(Hons) FAA FACP APAM(Hon) is an National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow, Professor and Director of the NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health at The University of Queensland (UQ)

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Professor Julie Fritz

Associate Dean for Research College of Health
Adjunct Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery
Distinguished Professor, Physical Therapy & Athletic Training
Adjunct Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery Operations
University of Utah

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Topical Session: Digital interventions for low back pain: what have we learnt to date?

Dr Hopin Lee

NHMRC Postdoctorate Research Fellow, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford


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Causal inference for understanding and managing low back pain – opportunities, limits, and expectations

Professor Christine Lin

Professor at the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney.

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Dr. Christina Abdel-Shaheed

Dr Abdel Shaheed is a pharmacist and researcher whose work is largely informed by her clinical practice, discussions with patients and networks with consumer advocacy groups.

Dr Abdel Shaheed has carried out highly influential work around the use of common drugs such as opioids, paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for painful conditions. Her research has challenged conventional thinking around the use of opioids for chronic back pain, and the use of paracetamol (acetaminophen) for most pain conditions. Dr Abdel Shaheed is committed to exploring solutions to some of the most pertinent public health issues, and curbing the overuse of high-risk medicines for the conditions where they are not very effective.

Professor Andrew McLachlan

Andrew McLachlan is a pharmacist, academic and researcher with experience in clinical pharmacology and research into the quality use of medicines. He is the Head of School and Dean of Pharmacy in the Sydney Pharmacy School at the University of Sydney and former Program Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Medicines and Ageing. Andrew is actively involved in collaborative clinical trials and evidence evaluation for the optimal management of musculoskeletal pain. He serves on expert committees related to ethics, medicines regulation, policy and medication safety (and antidoping).

Medications and back pain:
This session will set out what the evidence base regarding medications for back pain is telling us and describe how evidence feeds into public policy.

Hosted by Prof Andrew McLachlan. Christine Lin will discuss ‘‘Current evidence, controversies and the future’, while Christina Abdel-Shaheed will speak on ‘Applying evidence in the wider context’.

Professor Sallie Pearson

Professor Sallie Pearson is a medicines policy expert, pharmacoepidemiologist and leading authority in the conduct of population-based research using routinely collected health data. She currently heads the Medicines Policy Research Unit, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, UNSW Sydney. She is also the Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Medicines Intelligence that is accelerating real-world evidence development for medicines policy decision makers. Sallie has built a successful research program generating much needed evidence about the use and impact of prescribed medicines outside clinical trial conditions. Her research also explores the intended and unintended consequences of pharmaceutical policy decisions, demonstrates the value of large-scale linked data in conducting population and health services research, and advances pharmacoepidemiology research methods using routine data. Sallie is actively engaged in in a range of medicines policy and health data governance committees and advisory groups including the Drug Utilisation Sub-Committee of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (2011-), Australian Commission for Safety and Quality and Health Care Medication Oversight Committee (2018-), the National Data Advisory Council (2019-) and the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce (Co-Chair Observational Data Working Group, 2020-).

Understanding opioid use and harms using big data

Patients and the public

Professor Peter O’Sullivan

Professor of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy, Curtin University

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Communicating with people suffering from back pain – opportunities and obstacles

Associate Professor Beth Darnall

Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine (adult pain) & by courtesy, of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (General Psychiatry & Psychology (adult)), Stanford University

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Voluntary Patient-Centered Opioid Tapering: Methods that work

Joletta Belton

Joletta is a former firefighter paramedic who became a pain patient advocate after her experiences living with ongoing pain. She is Co-chair of IASP’s Global Alliance of Partners for Pain Advocacy, which brings together people living with pain, pain advocates, scientists, and clinicians to advocate for and facilitate the integration of lived experience into the study, research, and treatment of pain. She is also the first Patient & Public Partnerships Editor for the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. She lives in Colorado and loves to spend time out in nature with her rescue mutt, Coco

What do we gain by integrating the lived experience of pain into research and practice

Dr Natalia Pasternak

PhD in Microbiology, president of Instituto Questão de Ciência (IQC / Question of Science Institute) and Visiting Scholar at Columbia University

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Communicating science for the public and policy

Professor Anne MacFarlane

Professor of Primary Healthcare Research at the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, Ireland

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Optimising Health Equity and community involvement in primary care

Dr Mary O’Keeffe

Mary O’Keeffe BSc Physio, PhD, is a physiotherapist, postdoctoral researcher at The Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, The University of Sydney, and a trainee journalist. Her main research interest is the communication of medical advice (particularly regarding low back pain) to public and patients via the media and health awareness campaigns.

Liam Mannix

Liam Mannix is the national science reporter for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. He won the 2020 Walkley Award for Short Feature Writing, the 2019 Eureka Prize for Science Journalism, the Barry Williams Award for Skeptical Journalism,  and has twice won the Walkley Young Journalist of the Year (Innovation) award.

Topical Session: Media coverage of health and medicine: Opportunities and Obstacles to progress

Dr Jonathan Hill

Director for Research for the School of Allied Health Professionals, Keele University, England

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What does the research about risk stratification tell us?

Professor Thomas Graven-Nielsen

Professor, Department of Health Science and Technology
Professor, The Faculty of Medicine
Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction
Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain

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Facilitated pain mechanisms and cortical excitability changes in low back pain

Jacqui Browne

Jacqui is Chairperson of DESSA, the national Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency and was recently appointed as a member of the Disability Advisory Committee to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission regarding the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. She is a board member of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Irish Thalidomide Association. also actively involved as a patient advocate in IPPOSI – the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry and is a EUPATI Fellow – European Patient Advocacy Training Initiative. She has over 30 years of experience working at local, national, European and International levels as a disability equality activist and consultant.

Stacey Grealis

Stacey is a member of the Mayo branch of Arthritis Ireland and patient representative. She is active with several patient engagement groups, including involvement with OMERACT and European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) and has taken part in Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science & Industry (IPPOSI) Patient Education events.

Dr Clodagh Toomey

Clodagh is a recipient of a Health Research Board Emerging Investigator Award and Research Fellow at the School of Allied Health, University of Limerick (UL). She is the primary investigator on the IMPlementation of osteoArthritis Clinical guidelines Together (IMPACT) project and member of the UL Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Research Unit and Health Research Institute. She has an adjunct assistant professorship at the University of Calgary, Canada. She is a physiotherapist who specializes in research on prevention and management of osteoarthritis.

Effective patient engagement and participatory approaches in musculoskeletal research


Back and Neck Pain Progress of Opportunities in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Professor Babita Ghai

Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PIGMER), Chandigarh, India

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Back pain in India and South Asia

Dr Emma Godfrey

Education Lead for the Department of Psychology, King’s College, London


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Dr Chinonso Igwesi-Chidobe

University of Nigeria
Dr Chinonso Igwesi-Chidobe BPT, MPH, MCSP, CCBT, CMI, PhD is a senior lecturer in Community Physiotherapy/Rehabilitation and Global Health at the University of Nigeria. She is an alumnus of the University of Lagos, University of Nigeria and King’s College London where she graduated with several distinctions. She completed several certification courses from Harvard Medical School, University College London, Keele University United Kingdom, and the National Health Service United Kingdom. She is a Chartered physiotherapist in the United Kingdom, a member of Chartered Physiotherapists in Global Health, and a member of the International Society of Global Health. She has practised as a community physiotherapist in Nigeria, United Kingdom and Switzerland. She interned in Community-Based Rehabilitation at the World Health Organisation Headquarters office, Geneva-Switzerland. She developed the first biopsychosocial intervention for the primary care management of non-specific chronic low back pain in rural Africa, which won the Schlumberger faculty for the future fellowship award (The Netherlands). She did her postdoctoral research in the field of primary care physiotherapy at the research institute for primary care and health sciences, Keele University, United Kingdom. She was one of eight candidates, and the only physiotherapist and African (to date) to be shortlisted for the Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact, for which she was a Runner-up in November 2020.


Back pain in Nigeria and the African region

Professor Leonardo Costa

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Back and neck pain in Brazil and South America