La Trobe academic named Victorian 2023 Tall Poppy

A La Trobe University researcher working to prevent and treat knee arthritis in young people after a serious injury has been named a 2023 Victorian Tall Poppy.

Dr Adam Culvenor, a NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow and Senior Research Fellow in the La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, said he was humbled to be recognised as a Tall Poppy, as it is considered an early indicator of Australia’s future scientific leaders.

“Being selected as a Victorian Tall Poppy is a big surprise and I think emphasises the importance of not just conducting research in the laboratory but communicating that research to the wider community, especially to those groups who stand to benefit most from the research,” Dr Culvenor said.

The Young Tall Poppy Science Awards are run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) to honour up-and-coming scientists who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science.

Dr Culvenor said although most people think arthritis only affects older people, the early-onset form of arthritis following injury results in pain and disability in young adults under the age of 40 and costs the healthcare system more than $600 million a year.

He develops and applies clinical tests to identify young people who are at high risk of early arthritis, so treatment can be targeted to those most in need. He also develops and tests the ability of surgical and non-surgical treatments to prevent and/or slow early arthritis development and reduce pain, improve physical activity and optimise quality of life.

Dr Culvenor hopes the Tall Poppy award will help spotlight the importance of musculoskeletal health in all ages, and encourage other early career researchers or healthcare professionals to pursue a meaningful career in musculoskeletal research.

“I am looking forward to promoting the benefits of staying physically active to broader communities who may not traditionally be engaged in research, particularly for young athletes who are at risk of knee injury and early arthritis – to prevent them from becoming major participants in our future health care system,” he said.

The Awards are held on a state-by-state basis to celebrate researchers across all areas of science.

AIPS Co-Chair Professor Maria Kavallaris OAM said: “A more scientifically engaged society is something every scientist should aspire to and the reason that Tall Poppy winners are so important.”

Media contact: Charisse Ede +61404 030 698,