April Hartley

What motivated you to come to Bristol and do this programme?

The research area and the reputation of the school of Social and Community Medicine motivated me to apply for this course. Also the structure of the course with the opportunity to work on three mini projects in different areas before specializing on my main project.

What is the key research question of your PhD research project and what have you found out so far?

The main focus of my research is the progression of osteoarthritis. I will study a unique cohort of people with unusually high bone mineral density to investigate the relationship between bone density and osteoarthritis progression. People with a higher bone density are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the hip and knee and I will investigate whether the disease is more likely to progress in these people. I aim to identify genetic and metabolic risk factors for osteoarthritis progression in people with high bone density and examine whether these risk factors predict joint deterioration in the general population. This will help us to understand what biological pathways are involved in the advancement of this disease.

Where do you think your research could lead and what are your future career plans now?

Identifying biological pathways involved in osteoarthritis progression could identify potential new drug targets for osteoarthritis, a disease which currently has no preventative therapies. Identified risk factors for osteoarthritis progression could also be used in a clinical context to determine prognosis.

After my PhD I hope to continue working in musculoskeletal research, hopefully contributing to the improvement of treatment for people with chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis.

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