Bone Research Society

BRS Annual Meeting 2021

28 - 30 June 2021


Meet the speakers


Professor Tamara Alliston (San Francisco, USA)

Tamara Alliston, PhD,is a Professor in the UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery where she directs the UCSF Musculoskeletal Center.  With a focus on TGFβ signaling, her laboratory investigates the interaction between physical and biochemical signals in the control of skeletal cell differentiation and the role of these pathways in skeletal development and disease. Supported by the NIH, NSF, and DOD, her group employs approaches from molecular and cell biology, materials science, and engineering to identify mechanisms of skeletal disease in order to advance the development of new therapeutic strategies. 

She is Director of the NIH-P30-supported UCSF Core Center for Musculoskeletal Biology and Medicine and is an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and Bone. She recently served as a standing member of the NIH Skeletal Biology Structure and Regeneration (SBSR) study section and as the Translational Co-Chair for the 2020 ASBMR Annual Meeting Program meeting. Through her service on the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) Board of Directors as the inaugural Professional Development Council Chair, she led programming for new investigators, industry-based researchers, women, and individuals underrepresented in science. She has mentored over 25 graduate and post-graduate scholars, many of whom now hold faculty and leadership roles in academia and industry.  She has successfully organized a number of research conferences, such as the AAOS/ORS Workshop on Joint Crosstalk.  She is the Chair of the 2022 Gordon Research Conference on Musculoskeletal Biology and Bioengineering. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Dr. Alliston's honors include a Hulda Irene Duggan Arthritis Investigator Award, the ASBMR Harold M. Frost Young Investigator Award, the AIMM-ASBMR John Haddad Young Investigator Award, the ORS Women’s Leadership Award, and the ASBMR Adele Boskey Esteemed Award.


Tamara Alliston

Professor Duncan Bassett (London, UK)

Duncan Bassett is Professor of Endocrinology at Imperial College London and is a consultant physician at the Hammersmith Hospital specialising in metabolic bone disease. His research focuses on understanding the fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie skeletal development, maintenance and repair and their dysregulation in chronic degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.  He also has longstanding interest in thyroid hormone action and particularly its role in the developing and adult skeleton.

Duncan Bassett


Dr Sergio Bertazzo (London, UK)

Dr Sergio Bertazzois an Associate Professor at the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, University College London. He joined UCL from Imperial College London, where he held a prestigious Imperial College Research Fellowship

His research work has been broadly related to the formation, behaviour, and nature of minerals in different biological contexts. He is an expert in Mineralomics.

Early in his research career, Dr Bertazzo thoroughly described how calcium phosphates (the components of bone, teeth, and pathological calcification) behave in aqueous solutions, and his insights into how they dissolve had key implications for the debates on bone formation, on bone diseases such as osteoporosis, on cavities, and on all forms of pathological calcification.

More recently, Dr Bertazzo broke new ground by being the first to describe the earliest calcified structures on human vascular tissue and by identifying the nano and micro morphology, the composition, and crystallinity of vascular calcification. He also demonstrated for the first time that the calcified material from several different diseases such as atherosclerosis, aortic valve stenosis and rheumatic fever is one and the same. These research findings opened up a new field of investigation where mineral formation takes centre stage for the understanding, prevention and treatment of diseases: Mineralomics. 

This research work received several awards (please see CV for all awards) including the C. Walton Lillehei Young Investigator Award, from the Society for Heart Valve Disease and the Heart Valve Society of America, for the most promising research in cardiac valve disease (2011), and the internationally renowned Wellcome Trust Image Award (2014). It has been published in high-impact journals (Nature Materials (2013); The Lancet (2014); European Heart Journal (2017); Nature Materials (2016); Circulation Research (2015).

Some years ago, Dr Bertazzo produced research works that have been internationally recognised as ground-breaking in other fields where minerals are related to biology, as is the case of palaeontology. He showed that dinosaur bones which are not exceptionally preserved may still present the remains of red blood cells and collagen fibres. The outcomes of this particular research work were published in Nature Communications (Nature Communications (2014) 6, doi:10.1038/ncomms8352), and have met with considerable public attention. In the two days following the publication of this paper, Nature and Science magazines published comments welcoming/highlighting the findings in the paper, and more than 150 newspapers globally published articles about it. Radio and video interviews about the paper were also aired in several news outlets such as CNN, the Times, and the Wall Street Journal. 


Sergio Bertazzo

Dr Timothy Bhattacharyya (Washington DC, USA)

Dr. Bhattacharyya is a Board Certified Orthopaedic surgeon specializing in hip surgery and fracture care.  After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University, he attended the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.  He completed a residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at Boston University and a fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Since 2009, he has served as Head of Clinical and Investigative Orthopaedics at NIAMS/NIH.  His multidisciplinary group identified two causative genes for the rare bone disease melorheostosis. 

Timothy Bhattacharyya

Dr Joel Boerckel (Pennsylvania, USA)

Details to follow...


Dr Moira Cheung (London, UK)

Details to follow...


Dr Sylvie Coupard (Glasgow, UK)

Dr Sylvie Coupaud obtained a BA in Biological Sciences (University of Oxford, 1999), MRes in Biomedical Engineering (University of Strathclyde, 2001), and PhD in Rehabilitation Engineering (University of Glasgow, 2005). Upon completing her postdoctoral research program, she was appointed as Faculty staff in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, in November 2015. Dr Coupaud’s research focus is on disuse osteoporosis and other long-term health consequences of spinal cord injury, with clear implications for aging research.  She is a state-registered Clinical Scientist, and maintains strong clinical collaborations through patient-based studies at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit (Glasgow, U.K.). She holds a Solomons Award (2015-18) from the International Spinal Research Trust, to support her clinical research activity. A doctoral student from Dr Coupaud’s group was recently welcomed in the Castillo lab at NYU (summer 2016), initiating collaborative research activity on the relationship between angiogenesis and osteogenesis.


Sylvie Coupaud

Professor John Cunningham (London, UK)

Details to follow...


Professor Cyrus Cooper (Southampton, UK)

Cyrus Cooper is Professor of Rheumatology and Director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit; Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton; and Professor of Epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford.  

He leads an internationally competitive programme of research into the epidemiology of musculoskeletal disorders, most notably osteoporosis.  His key research contributions have been: 1) discovery of the developmental influences which contribute to the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture in late adulthood; 2) demonstration that maternal vitamin D insufficiency is associated with sub-optimal bone mineral accrual in childhood; 3) characterisation of the definition and incidence rates of vertebral fractures; 4) leadership of large pragmatic randomised controlled trials of calcium and vitamin D supplementation in the elderly as immediate preventative strategies against hip fracture.  

He is President of the International Osteoporosis Foundation; Chair of the BHF Project Grants Committee; an emeritus NIHR Senior Investigator; and Associate Editor of Osteoporosis International. He has previously served as Chairman of the Scientific Advisors Committee, International Osteoporosis Foundation; Chairman, MRC Population Health Sciences Research Network; Chairman of the National Osteoporosis Society of Great Britain; past-President of the Bone Research Society of Great Britain; and has worked on numerous Department of Health, European Community and World Health Organisation committees and working groups. He has published extensively (over 900 research papers; hi=218) on osteoporosis and rheumatic disorders and pioneered clinical studies on the developmental origins of peak bone mass.  In 2015, he was awarded an OBE for services to medical research.


Cyrus Cooper

Professor Richard Eastell (Sheffield, UK)

Richard qualified in medicine from Edinburgh in 1977.  He trained in endocrinology in Edinburgh, Northwick Park and at the Mayo Clinic (Dr B L Riggs). He leads a research group on the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis; of particular note is his contribution to the use of bone turnover markers and the development of treatments for osteoporosis. He was Secretary and President of the Bone Research Society as well as President of the European Calcified Tissue Society. He is an NIHR Senior Investigator (Emeritus). His work has been recognised by the Philippe Bordier Award (2012) (European Calcified Tissue Society), Frederic C Bartter Award 2014 (American Society for Bone and Mineral Research), Kohn and Linda Edwards Awards from the Royal Osteoporosis Society (2004, 2018), the Clinical Endocrinology Trust Award from the European Society for Endocrinology (2020) and the Dent Lecturer from the Bone Research Society (2021).


Richard Eastell

Dr Claire Edwards (Oxford, UK)

Claire is an Associate Professor at the University of Oxford with a joint appointment between the Nuffield Dept. of Surgical Sciences (NDS) and the Nuffield Dept. of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS). She is also a Fellow of St. Edmund Hall. Prof. Edwards is the recipient of multiple awards and fellowships, including the Iain T. Boyle Award from the European Calcified Tissue Society, and is the past president of the Cancer and Bone Society. Prof. Edwards runs the Bone Oncology Group at the Botnar Research Centre, University of Oxford. Specific interests include the contributions of the host bone marrow microenvironment and the role of obesity, adipocytes and adipokines to the pathogenesis of MGUS, multiple myeloma and prostate cancer bone metastases.


Claire Edwards

Dr Svein O Fredwall (Nesoddtangen, Norway)

Svein O. Fredwall (MD) is a Senior Consultant and Medical Advisor at TRS National Resource Centre for Rare Disorders, Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital, Norway. 

He studied medicine at Oslo University Hospital and graduated in 1995. He worked one year in the department of internal medicine at Moss hospital, and became a specialist in General Medicine in 2001. He then worked 17 years as a general practitioner, running his own clinical practice. From 2012, he has been a senior consultant at TRS National Resource Centre for Rare Disorders, working mainly with rare skeletal disorders. From 2014 he has also been a Medical Advisor and part of the leader group at TRS.

His research areas are rare skeletal disorders, and particularly adults with achondroplasia. Since 2017, he has conducted The Norwegian Adult Achondroplasia Study as part of his studies for the PhD degree. Six papers have been published from this study, and two more manuscripts are submitted for publication. From 2019, he has been running an adult skeletal dysplasia clinic at Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital.

Svein O. Fredwall has been an invited member in two international working groups for developing best practice guidelines for management and care in achondroplasia. He is also a member of one of the working groups of the European Registry for Rare Bone and Mineral Conditions (EuRR-Bone), and several advisory boards.


Svein O Fredwall

Professor Celia Gregson (Bristol, UK)

Details to follow...


Professor Miep Helfrich (Aberdeen, UK)

Miep Helfrich is professor (emerita) at the University of Aberdeen. I studied Cell Biology at the University of Wageningen and then did a PhD on the bone disease osteopetrosis at the University of Leiden, both in The Netherlands. In 1988 I moved to London to do a postdoc with Professor Mike Horton at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund laboratories, on adhesion molecules on bone cells. In 1992 I moved to Aberdeen and started a second postdoc with Professor Stuart Ralston on the etiology of Paget’s disease of bone. I stayed at Aberdeen for the rest of my career. After a fellowship with the Arthritis Research Campaign (now versus Arthritis), when I worked on the role of nitric oxide in bone cells, I was appointed as senior lecturer in 2004 and promoted to professor in 2009, returning to my interest in osteoclast biology and osteoclast diseases and in improving ultrastructural imaging of bone cells and bone tissue. I set up the Microscopy and Histology Core Facility at the University of Aberdeen in 2002 and led this until I retired in 2015. I joined the Bone Research Society (then called Bone and Tooth Society) in 1988 when I moved to the UK and have been a member ever since. I was a committee member and also had the honour to be its president. I was also an active member of the European Calcified Tissue Society, chairing the Training Committee and organising several PhD training courses. These activities followed from a strong interest, not only in bone research per se, but also in training others to become scientists and academics. I have held grant funding from many different funders, but perhaps the most enjoyable project was the last one before I retired from active research: a Marie Curie ITN called Euroclast, focussing entirely on osteoclast biology while training eleven PhD students and collaborating widely with other groups in Europe.  


Miep Helfrich

Dr Tom Maden-Wilkinson (Sheffield, UK)

Tom is a Muscle physiologist with a research interest in the mechanisms underpinning muscle strength and adaptations to these with resistance exercise. Tom works as a Senior Research Fellow in the Physical Activity and Public Health research group at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University. Tom runs the Strength 4 Life programme which co-ordinates Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists alongside strength and conditioning coaches and exercise scientists to enable older adults and people with long term conditions to safely undertake strength training.


Tom Maden-Wilkinson

Professor Jose Luis Millán (La Jolla, USA)

“A native of Mar del Plata, Argentina, Dr. Millán received his early training in clinical chemistry/biochemistry at the University of Buenos Aires,  Argentina and joined the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation (LJCRF), the predecessor of SBP, in 1977 as a trainee in clinical enzymology. He completed his Ph.D. studies in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Umeå, Sweden and after post-doctoral stints in Copenhagen and LJCRF he was appointed to the faculty at SBP in 1986. He served as Professor of Medical Genetics in the Department of Medical Biosciences at his alma mater, Umeå University, Sweden, from 1995-2000. He was appointed Sanford Investigator at the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center at SBP in 2008.

The Millán laboratory works on understanding the mechanisms that control normal skeletal and dental mineralization and elucidating the pathophysiological abnormalities that lead to heritable soft bones conditions such as Hypophosphatasia (HPP) and to soft-tissue calcification, including vascular calcification, that is a hallmark feature in patients affected by a variety of rare genetic diseases as well as in chronic kidney disease. Dr. Millan’s research has already contributed to the implementation of a novel therapy for HPP, a genetic disease caused by deficiency in tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) function, that leads to accumulation in the extracellular space of inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi), a potent inhibitor of mineralization. HPP is characterized by defective mineralization of bones (rickets or osteomalacia), and teeth that display a lack of acellular cementum, hypomineralized dentin and enamel, and periodontal defects. Dr. Millán’s team has demonstrated the effectiveness of enzyme replacement therapy using mineral-targeted recombinant TNAP (asfotase alfa) to prevent the skeletal and dental defects in the TNAP knockout mouse model of infantile HPP. This therapy was approved in 2015 for the treatment of patients with pediatric-onset HPP.  In collaboration with long-term collaborators Prof. Shimada and Miyake from Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan he has also demonstrated the efficacy of gene therapy to treat HPP. Dr. Millán’s group has also identified key pathophysiological changes in TNAP expression that cause calcification of the arteries in diverse animal models. His group, in collaboration with scientists at the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics at SBP, has developed proprietary TNAP inhibitors able to ameliorate the soft-tissue calcification in these conditions and clinical trials are now underway using these first-in-class compounds.”


Jose-Louis Millán

Professor Zulf Mughal (Manchester, UK)

Professor Zulf Mughal, Manchester. Zulf is a long-standing supporter of the BRS and is a national and international expert in paediatric metabolic bone disease, publishing over 160 peer-review articles and numerous book chapters. Graduating in Medicine from the University of Liverpool in 1978, he received postgraduate training in Paediatrics in Manchester, Liverpool, and Cincinnati, USA. Zulf is currently a Consultant in Paediatric Bone Diseases at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and Honorary Clinical Professor in Child Health at the University of Manchester.  His research career began exploring the transfer of micronutrients across placenta, moving forwards with a particular focus on vitamin D and calcium biology and the pathogenesis of nutritional rickets, the impact of chronic, acute and rare diseases on the developing skeleton, and important contributions to the development and application of paediatric bone densitometry. Zulf’s work in the UK, India and US have made him an excellent mentor to many. His enthusiasm, passion and knowledge for research is infectious and he has been a mentor to many scientists, clinicians, and allied health professionals.


Zulf Mughal

Professor Jon Tobias (Bristol, UK)

Jonathan Tobias is Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Bristol, UK, and Consultant Rheumatologist at North Bristol Trust. Following undergraduate studies in medicine at Cambridge University and London University from where he qualified in 1984, he completed MD and PhD theses in bone biology in 1990 and 1994, at St George’s Hospital in London. He was appointed as Consultant Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol in 1995, and is currently co-director of the University of Bristol Musculoskeletal Research Unit. He manages a diverse research programme into the causes and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, particularly osteoporosis, with 270 publications (including 205 peer-reviewed original research papers) in this field. He also has extensive clinical experience in treating patients with osteoporosis, and in running DXA-based osteoporosis diagnostic services. He has served on the editorial boards of Calcified Tissue International, Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, and Rheumatology, the Heberden committee of the British Society for Rheumatology, the research committee of Arthritis Research UK, NICE appraisal and guideline committees, and the Medicines for Women’s Health Expert Advisory Group of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. He is past President of the UK Bone Research Society (2010-12). He is currently Specialty Chief Editor of the Bone Research section of Frontiers in Endocrinology, and chair of the Royal Osteoporosis Society Research Grants Advisory Panel.

Jon Tobias