Julia Kuliwaba

Dr Julia Kuliwaba

Research Fellow

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr Julia Kuliwaba is a Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Bone and Joint Research Group in the Centre for Orthopaedic and Trauma Research, Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide. Dr Kuliwaba has over 20 years research experience in the musculoskeletal field, with her research focus on understanding the pathobiology of Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, and other musculoskeletal conditions. She is actively involved with supervision of PhD and Honours research students and undergraduate teaching and research project supervision in the Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide.

Bone and Joint Research Group, Centre for Orthopaedic and Trauma Research

The Bone and Joint Research Group focus on understanding the pathobiology of Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, and other musculoskeletal conditions. The laboratory is internationally recognised for human tissue-level analyses, utilising a well-established human musculoskeletal tissue bank. The research involves a multidisciplinary approach utilising numerous tissue-level techniques: ranging from molecular to microstructural to clinical imaging.

Lead researcher: Dr Julia Kuliwaba

Email: julia.kuliwaba@adelaide.edu.au

 

Research Project 1

Title: TGF-beta as a critical factor in human osteoarthritis

Project description: The aetiology of the painful degenerative joint disease osteoarthritis (OA) has so far been elusive, blocking the development of disease modifying treatments. Exciting recent research in mice has found that TGF-beta over-expression in the subchondral bone (beneath the cartilage) has a critical causal role in OA pathogenesis. The OA bone changes seen in mice closely resemble what we find in human OA bone in zones that display the most severe changes, which correspond to ‘bone marrow lesions’ identified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This research project area will investigate the link between TGF-beta expression with structural, chemical compositional, cellular and molecular changes in human subchondral bone marrow lesions. The research involves the analysis of human knee and/or hip OA tissue specimens. This project will investigate TGF-beta as a candidate driver of human OA, which is an essential precursor to testing pharmacologic alteration of TGF-beta activity as a therapeutic strategy. 

Projects available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters

Location: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building (AHMS)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2

 

Research Project 2

Title: Clinical imaging and tissue-level phenotyping of human hip osteoarthritis

Project description: In Australia, 1 in 4 individuals is at risk of developing symptomatic hip osteoarthritis (OA) in their lifetime. People with hip OA have significant pain and disability, which affects their quality of life. Clinical diagnosis of hip OA involves symptomatic and imaging findings; imaging characteristics include joint space narrowing, presence of osteophytes, subchondral bone cysts and bone marrow lesions (BMLs). A more painful and progressive subtype of hip OA is thought to be related to the formation of subchondral bone cysts, which may develop from BMLs that are often seen in pre-OA populations. The future development of preventive therapy and therapeutic approaches for OA depends on early prediction, detection and prognosis. Thus, it is essential to understand the relationship between subchondral bone cysts and BMLs in hip OA. This project will investigate the frequency and location of subchondral bone cysts and BMLs in hip OA patients using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The presence of these MRI features will be associated with OA progression, evaluated by cartilage volume loss, radiographic KL score and histopathological OARSI cartilage grade. Bone tissue changes will also be assessed in relation to cysts and BMLs by analysis of bone microarchitecture, bone remodelling and microdamage accumulation.

Projects available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters

Location: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building (AHMS)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2

 

Research Project 3

Title: Compositional mapping of the cartilage-bone unit in human knee osteoarthritis: insight into disease pathobiology

Project description: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common painful degenerative disease of the joints, which constitutes a major and growing health problem for the ageing Australian population, and for which there are no effective therapies. Our recent research in human OA has shown the involvement of the bone under the cartilage, i.e. subchondral bone, in the development of OA. There is limited quantitative understanding of the tissue matrix composition of the cartilage-bone unit in human OA. This project will utilise Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopic imaging to map region-specific changes in bone and cartilage matrix composition, eg. collagen organisation, proteoglycan and mineral distribution, for human tissue specimens. This project will use an available cohort of OA and non-OA tibial plateau specimens that has been characterised by MRI-imaging for the presence/absence of bone marrow lesions (BMLs) in the subchondral bone. BMLs are of clinical importance as they are associated with pain, predict disease progression, and may be useful as outcome measures for intervention strategies. This project will deliver new knowledge of the cartilage-bone matrix composition for human knee OA patients with and without subchondral BMLs and provide insight into the pathobiology of OA disease progression. 

Projects available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters

Location: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building (AHMS)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2

National Health and Medical Research Council, 2018-2020, Project Grant, AUD $634,359, Transforming Growth Factor Beta as a causal factor in human osteoarthritis. CIs: Findlay DM, Cao X, Kuliwaba JS, Gill T, Solomon LB.

Arthritis Australia, 2016-2017, Project Grant, AUD $30,000, Molecular profiling of bone marrow lesions in osteoarthritis. CIs: Kuliwaba JS, Findlay DM, Hoffmann P.

National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013-2016, Project Grant, AUD $451,683, Targeting bone marrow lesions to find interventions in the progression of osteoarthritis. CIs: Findlay DM, Wluka AE, Kuliwaba JS, Taylor DJ.

National Health and Medical Research Council, 2008-2010, Project Grant, AUD $434,498, Vertebral body strength: contribution of bone mass, bone structure and material properties. CIs: Fazzalari NL, Kuliwaba JS, Parkinson IH, Sutton-Smith P.

National Health and Medical Research Council, 2006-2008, Project Grant, AUD $438,125, Intrinsic bone qualities in fragility fracture patients: mass, microarchitecture, mineralization and damage accumulation. CIs: Fazzalari NL, Kuliwaba JS.

National Health and Medical Research Council, 2006-2008, Project Grant, AUD $399,750, Influence of anti-inflammatory treatments on healing of stress fractures. CIs: Forwood MR, Fazzalari NL, Kuliwaba JS.

  • Position: Research Fellow
  • Phone: 83132855
  • Email: julia.kuliwaba@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor 7
  • Room: WS7062.17
  • Org Unit: Surgical Specialties

Connect With Me
External Profiles