Improving musculoskeletal health and reducing persistent pain are some of the research areas of Professor Michel Coppieters, the newly appointed Menzies Foundation Professor of Allied Health Research at Griffith University.

Professor Coppieters has a special interest in neuropathic pain, which is pain that originates from the peripheral or central nervous system. His research aims to increase understanding of the mechanisms of neuropathic pain, how it evolves, improving the way it is diagnosed and the potential for non-surgical and non-pharmacological management.

“Neuropathic pain is common, but typically difficult to treat,” he says.

“For example, following breast cancer treatment, a significant proportion of women develop neuropathic pain in their arm, and some may experience significant functional limitations.”

“Considering the increased survival rates and longer life expectancy, prevention and successful management of these side effects is important as they can have a significant impact on people’s lives,” he says. “Similarly, neuropathies are increasingly common in people with diabetes.

Better clinical diagnoses and management strategies

The research by Professor Coppieters and his team aims to better understand conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, in order to develop better clinical diagnoses and management strategies.

“It is also important to be able to identify in advance which patients are likely to respond well to a certain intervention (and which patients will not), and we also like to understand how that treatment works.

“For example, which patients with back pain or neck pain respond well to physiotherapy and exercise, why do they get better and which pathological mechanism has changed?”

The Menzies Health Institute Queensland positions Griffith University as a leader in world-class research, and wasofficially launched by the Governor-General and Patron of the Menzies Foundation, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), on Thursday 9 April 2015.

This significant development is enhancingGriffith’s health research excellence through collaboration and resource sharing, as well as support of greater engagement between academic researchers and healthcare professionals nationally and internationally.

A key part of increasing health outcomes will entail MHIQ continuing to work closely with the Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH). “Working very closely with GCUH is something that is built into our research strategy as a way of facing the clinical challenges that our health system is currently seeing.”

Professor Coppieters received prestigious awards for his research, including The University of Queensland Foundation Research Excellence Award.

He has been the Chief investigator on competitive grants to the value of $2.3 million in both Australia and Europe over thepast 10 years, and has delivered many keynote presentations at international conferences.

He has previously held academic positions at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands), University of Leuven (Belgium) and The University of Queensland.