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Spine biomechanic research arrives at Memorial

By Virginia Middleton | Dec. 21, 2015

A leading researcher in spine biomechanics has joined the Memorial University research community as the inaugural Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation Professor in Spine Biomechanics.

Dr. Diana De Carvalho joins the Faculty of Medicine as an assistant professor, with a cross-appointment in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation.

“It’s exciting to be joining the Memorial University research community,” said Dr. De Carvalho. “Through this professorship, we will be able to propel research in the area of the early diagnosis, prevention and intervention strategies for low back pain.”

The professorship was made possible by a generous donation of $500,000 from the Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation (CCRF), originally received during Memorial’s successful Dare To fundraising campaign.

The CCRF supports clinical research, biomedical research, health services research and population health studies. The new professorship will open more opportunities for collaborative research.

“Dr. De Carvalho’s research in spine biomechanics will help to positively impact the health of all Canadians,” said Dr. Drew Potter, chair, CCRF. “Her work highlights the detrimental effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyle and the need to support high-level research through the CCRF.”

Dr. James Rourke, dean, Faculty of Medicine, says that while Memorial University is dedicated to creativity, innovation and excellence in research, scholarship and teaching, “we cannot do this alone.”

“It is through partnerships with the CCRF that allows us to work with leading experts like Dr. De Carvalho so that together we can help patient-focused research grow,” he said.

Lab space for Dr. De Carvalho will be available in the Faculty of Medicine. She will also work closely with researchers in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation as they aim to answer questions related to low back pain and other spine-related issues.

“Dr. De Carvalho’s research program on the topic of spine biomechanics while seated will influence the conversation she has already begun through her impactful papers and presentations,” said Dr. Heather Carnahan, dean, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation. “Prolonged sitting can now be added to the list of health risks such as smoking. I look forward to seeing her work shed a light on this new area of research for Memorial with the potential for widespread clinical application.”

Dean Rourke added that personalized medicine is something that is more important than ever in our communities. Patients often have very specific needs related to back pain. Through research at Memorial, chiropractors and physicians will be able to help more patients in need.

“The research conducted by Dr. De Carvalho will have a worldwide impact benefiting the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond.”