Ghazala Naureen, mentee in the 2019 MedTech-Pharma program in VIC (The University of Melbourne)

I started my career in the of vitamin D and bone health research in 2010 from Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan and worked until 2014 on different research projects within the same field. This experience developed my passion to pursue my own independent career in the field of vitamin D and bone health. I decided to undertake a PhD investigating vitamin D and bone health, with the intention that my PhD findings would have global relevance. I am fortunate to be undertaking my PhD in Australia, where I can learn from Prof. Kerrie Sanders who has international standing for her Vitamin D work in osteoporosis and fractures, and Assoc. Prof. Sharon Brennan-Olsen who is well-known for her community-based work regarding social inequities and musculoskeletal health. As part of my PhD project, I am developing a vitamin D screening tool that can be used by community-based adults: there is keen interest in my work from an Australian-based pharmaceutical company, which indicates its relevance and importance. Previously I did M.Sc. and M.Phil. in Genetics (Pakistan), M.Sc. Biotechnology (Scotland) and Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics (Pakistan).

My PhD project consists of two studies, both of which use existing databases. My first study builds on the internationally-renowned work of Professor Kerrie Sanders and aims to identify the physical function parameters associated with an increased risk of falls in adults aged 70 years and over after having received a high annual dose of vitamin D supplementation. As such, this project will explore the gaps in understanding of relationship between serum 25(OH)D, physical function, falls and fractures in older people. My second study will develop an algorithm-based tool for use by Australian adults to identify if they are likely to be insufficient in vitamin D status.