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Dr Francis Williams wins ISSLS prize

WilliamsF_140x180Congratulations to a team led by Dr Frances Williams, Reader in the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, which has been selected as the winner of The International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine (ISSLS) prize in Clinical Studies for 2015.  The award is the most prestigious in the field for research into lumbar spine relating to low back pain and disability.

Dr Williams' research focuses on the genetic epidemiology of common complex traits particularly those causing chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis of the spine and osteoporosis.  As a consultant rheumatologist, at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, she also provides clinical services relating to osteoporosis and spine disease, and runs a specialist clinic for the musculoskeletal problems of musicians.

She and co-authors won the ISSLS prize for their paper ‘Vertebral endplate (Modic) change is an independent risk factor for episodes of severe and disabling low back pain’.  The results of the study will be presented  at the ISSLS meeting in San Francisco  in June 2015.

The study looked at changes in the vertebral endplate on spine MRI in almost 850 twins. The twins had completed questionnaires regarding episodes of low back pain experienced throughout life. The relationship between endplate change and other manifestations of age-related degeneration has been debated but this study showed that endplate change was an independent risk factor for episodes of low back pain, both at baseline and at follow-up 10 years later.