Professor Paul Hodges
Professor Paul Hodges
16 December 2010

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has awarded its highest honour to Professor Paul Hodges, director of The University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health.

Professor Hodges was presented with the Achievement Award for Top-Ranked NHMRC Research Fellow at the NHMRC Excellence Awards last night in Canberra. A total of 10 researchers were honoured at the awards.

Australia’s peak body for health and medical research presents the awards in recognition of the scientific merit, innovation and the research success of Australia’s leading health and medical researchers.

Professor Hodges has doctorates in physiotherapy and neuroscience and uses his mix of skills to bridge between basic neurophysiological and clinical research.

His work aims to understand the mechanisms of chronic pain and to develop conservative treatments.

"Considering the depth of research excellence in Australia, it is a very great honour to receive this award," Professor Hodges said.

"The award is an important recognition of the high quality of physiotherapy research under way at The University of Queensland.”

The NHMRC-funded centre headed by Professor Hodges undertakes research to study the physiology of chronic pain and to develop and test new treatments. It also aims to translate research to clinical practice.

Professor Hodges said it was important to develop conservative non-drug treatments to manage chronic pain, which has a significant impact on the lives of many people.

“Low back pain is the most common condition leading to disability in Australia,” he said.

“My work aims to identify not only who needs what treatment and when, but also to understand why people continue to have episodes of pain and why treatments work.”

The NHMRC research fellowship scheme is the pre-eminent scheme through which Australian health and medical researchers are funded.

Professor Hodges was the first physiotherapist to enter the fellowship scheme, the first physiotherapist to be promoted to the scheme’s highest level (Senior Principal Research Fellow) and the award last night recognises him as the highest-ranked research fellow across all disciplines in this year's funding round.

Professor Warwick Anderson, the NHMRC’s chief executive officer, said the awards were established to recognise and reward achievement in the highly competitive health and medical research field.

“These award winners are outstanding researchers,” Professor Anderson said. “As the highest-ranking applicants in their funding schemes, these 10 researchers have been assessed by their peers as meeting the highest national and international standards for their research.”

They had been identified as the top 10 of the nearly 5000 researchers who applied for NHMRC funding in 2010. Twenty four per cent of those applications were funded.

Media: Marlene McKendry, UQ Faculty of Health Sciences, 07 3346 4713, or Claire Pitham, NHMRC, 02 6217 9190, 0422 008 512.