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HomeResearchResearch domains​Musculoskeletal Health, Integumentary and Trauma Network
​Musculoskeletal Health, Integumentary and Trauma Network


 ​Musculoskeletal Health

Clinicians and researchers at NSLHD and the Kolling Institute are contributing to a world-leading program of research on musculoskeletal (MSK) health that is improving outcomes for patients with common conditions such as osteoarthritis and low back pain.

The Osteoarthritis and Back Pain Clinical Research Groups at NSLHD are interdisciplinary teams in which clinicians and researchers in fields ranging from orthopaedic surgery to physiotherapy, rheumatology and neurosurgery work closely together to address real-world problems and to translate research into practice. 

NSLHD will form an integral part of University of Sydney’s new Flagship Centre for research on musculoskeletal health and wellbeing, further cementing its role as a leader in the field.

In close collaboration with the University of Sydney and other research institutions in Australia and internationally, the MSK research group leads and participates in a broad range of basic, clinical and implementation science research studies.  This has seen it drive significant changes in management of musculoskeletal conditions. 

For example, External LinkProfessor David Hunter’s work has contributed to a paradigm shift in the management of osteoarthritis, and External LinkProfessor Ma​nuela Ferreira’s research program has led to significant changes in the way low back pain is managed globally.​

The MSK research group has also been instrumental in developing new models of care, including a state-wide model of care for osteoporotic refracture prevention developed by Professor Lyn March in partnership with the Agency for Clinical Innovation, and Professor Hunter’s OA Chronic Care Program, which has been adopted for use in every NSW local health district due to its health and economic benefits.​​

 Hand Surgery

​The Department of Hand Surgery and Peripheral Nerve Surgery is involved in numerous research projects.  Research includes surgical outcome reviews, surgical technique developments (animal models), multi-centre international trials and publishing of case reports.
The department receives Australian and international fellows each year and each actively pursues a research project during their term. In addition, Hand surgery registrars from the Australian Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery training schemes join the department each year and are encouraged to undertake research, as are resident medical officers and medical students.
Anatomical, mechanical and clinical studies completed within the department offer guidance on the best surgical options and outcomes for patients and regularly influence the practices of surgeons and hand therapists at NSLHD, but also at state, national and international levels.  As an example, a recent study on the care of spasticity patients after comprehensive one-stage upper limb surgery demonstrated a significant improvement through multi-disciplinary care, which is now delivered in our multi-disciplinary spasticity clinic. 
Our research is often run in collaboration with our important partners, including the Children's Hospital Westmead, RNSH Department of Orthopaedics, Tetraplegia unit, multi-disciplinary Spasticity Clinic, and the Department of Physiotherapy; The Kolling Institute's Maxwell Murray Biomechanics Research Laboratory and Sutton Laboratories; The University of Sydney; International hospitals and universities (e.g. ERASMUS Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Loma Linda University, California, USA); and Pharmaceutical companies and external groups with a hand surgery interest.

Selected publications in 2019/2020​
    • Mende K, Suurmeijer JA, Tonkin MA. Surgical techniques for reconstruction of the hypoplastic thumb. J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2019; 44(1):15-24. doi: 10.1177/1753193418793579.
    • Smith NC, Sivakumar B, Bellity JP, Tremblay DM, Lawson RD. Interosseous membrane reconstruction utilizing flexor digitorum superficialis autograft. Tech Hand Up Extrem Surg. 2019; 23(3):122-127. doi: 10.1097/BTH.0000000000000237.
    • Graham DJ, Clitherow HDS, Singh HP, Smith BJ, Clarke EC, Tonkin MA. The effect of extensor tendon adhesions on finger motion. J Hand Surg Am. 2019; 44(10):903.e1-903.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2018.12.011.
    • Gschwind CR, Yeomans JL, Smith BJ.  Upper limb surgery for severe spasticity after acquired brain injury improves ease of care. J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2019; 44(9):898-904. doi: 10.1177/1753193419866595.
    • Ledgard JP, Gschwind CR.  New developments in reconstructive upper limb surgery for tetraplegia: evidence for their efficacy. J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2020;45(1):43‐50. doi:10.1177/1753193419886443
    • Vanhees M, Cardillo ND, Hile MS. The effect of knot position in Adelaide flexor tendon repair. J Hand Surg Eur Vol. J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2020;45(3):303‐304. doi:10.1177/1753193419889297
    • Mende K, Watson A, Stewart DA.  Surgical treatment and outcomes of syndactyly: A systematic review. J Hand Surg Asian Pac Vol. 2020;25(1):1‐12. doi:10.1142/S2424835520300017
    • Haines M, Baba M, Stewart DA. Iatrogenic femur fracture following medial femoral condyle flap harvest. J Hand Surg Am. 2020;S0363-5023(19)31532-1. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2019.12.001 [published online ahead of print, 2020 Feb 20]​


​ The Dermatology Service includes research in inflammatory skin disease, including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, and hidradenitis suppurativa.  By participating in research, we are able to offer our patients immediate access to the latest and most advanced medicines providing relief for patients suffering with adult and paediatric psoriaris, adult and paediatric atopic dermatitis, and hidradenitis suppurativa. 


Key staff members include

  • Professor Gayle Fischer OAM – Head of Dermatology Department
  • A/Professor Stephen Shumak OAM – Consultant Dermatologist
  • Erin Mewton – Dermatology Clinical Nurse Consultant
  • Melissa Franklin – Dermatology Clinical Trials Coordinator
  • Dr Ashod Kherlopian – Dermatology Research Fellow

Selected current studies

    • Consensus statement on vulval lichen sclerosus severity and management
    • Exploring attitudes underlying poor compliance to treatment in adolescent vulval lichen sclerosus using focus groups
    • Effect of targeted immunomodulatory therapy on vulvar quality of life index (VQLI) in vulval lichen planus
    • M16-047 – a phase III clinical trial investigating efficacy of Upadacitinib in combination with topical corticosteroids in adolescent and adult subjects with moderate to severe Atopic Dermatitis (PI – Professor Gayle Fischer)
    • PROTOSTAR – a phase III clinical trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of Guselkumab for chronic plaque psoriasis in paediatric patients (PI – Professor Gayle Fischer)
    • HS0004 – a phase III clinical trials testing the efficacy of Bimekizumab in adult subjects with moderate to severe hidradenitis suppurativa (PI – Professor Gayle Fischer)
    • B7451050 – a phase III clinical trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of abrocitinib and dupilumab in adult subjects with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis (PI – Professor Gayle Fischer)
    • LAAVA-2 – a phase I investigator-led clinical trial investigating the efficacy of fractional ablative CO2 laser for genitourinary symptoms of menopause (collaboration between Dr Antonia Pearson and Professor Gayle Fischer)​

Selected publications​

    • Smith, S, Baker, C, Gebauer. K,  Rubel, D,  Frankum, B, Soyer HP, Weightman, W,  Sladden, M, Rawlin, M,  Headley, AP,  Somerville, C,  Beuth, J,  Logan, N,  Mewton, E & Foley, P 2020, 'Atopic dermatitis in adults: An Australian management consensus', Australasian Journal of Dermatology, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 23-32. Available at: <>. 
    • Charlton, OA, Harris, V, Phan, K, Mewton, E, Jackson, C & Cooper, A 2020, 'Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis and Steven–Johnson Syndrome: A Comprehensive Review', Advances in Wound Care, ahead of print. Available at: <>.
    • Kherlopian, A., Fischer, G. (2020). Diffuse petechial rash in an unwell febrile patient. Medicine Today, 21(4), 59-60.
    • Kherlopian, A., Fischer, G. (2020). Persistent pruritic purple papules. Medicine Today, 21(3), 53-54.
    • Kherlopian, A., Fischer, G. (2020). Recurrent painful intertriginous nodules. Medicine Today, 21(5), 59-61.​
    • Saunderson, R., Harris, V., Yeh, R., Mallitt, K., Fischer, G. (2020). Vulvar quality of life index (VQLI) - A simple tool to measure quality of life in patients with vulvar disease. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 61(2), 152-157. [More Information]
    • Dickison, P., Fischer, G. (2019). A 6-month-old boy with a vesicular rash. Medicine Today, 20(1), 42-43.
    • Lee, G., Fischer, G. (2019). A 6-month-old boy with an oedematous and purpuric eruption. Medicine Today, 20(10), 55-56.
    • Dickison, P., Fischer, G. (2019). A man with erythematous and swollen hands. Medicine Today, 20(2), 61-67.
    • Kherlopian, A., Fischer, G. (2019). A rapidly progressing, blistering eruption in a febrile patient. Medicine Today, 20(11), 41-42.
    • Forward, E., Dickison, P., Harris, V., Scurry, J., Fischer, G. (2019). Recurrent orogenital erythema multiforme and vulval neutrophilic dermatosis. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 60(1), e74-e75. [More Information]
    • Forward, E., Reid, N., Fischer, G. (2019). Vulval Crohn disease: A case series of 26 patients. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 60(3), 228-230. [More Information]
    • Fischer, G. (2019). Vulval lichen sclerosus diagnosis and treatment. Medicine Today, 20(1), 21-29.​
    • Dubey, R., Fischer, G. (2019). Vulvo-vaginal lichen planus: A focussed review for the clinician. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 60(1), 7-11. [More Information]​​