Tiffany Gill answers the Holy Grail

tiff gill

In our first Holy Grail of 2o16 musculoskeletal epidemiologist Dr Tiffany Gill from the University of Adelaide tells us about her research, her biggest hurdles and how far her work is from impacting patient care.

What’s the issue your research is trying to solve?

I am a musculoskeletal epidemiologist with a physiotherapy background so I am interested in the prevalence and incidence of musculoskeletal conditions in the population and the factors in the population which influence the prevalence and incidence.

What have you discovered so far?

That prevalence is high, and that people have little understanding of musculoskeletal conditions, what causes them and that they can be limited or prevented to some degree.

What’s been your biggest hurdle?

That people just think that musculoskeletal conditions particularly arthritis are just a part of ageing and are inevitable and nothing can be done. Also the lack of funding available in this area and lack of recognition by government that because these condition don’t generally kill you they are not worth funding or investing in.

How far is your work from impacting patient care?

It is very close. I moved into epidemiology from being a clinician because I became interested in a population view rather than treating individuals. Because I am a physiotherapist I am always aware of needing to translate my research into practice and I also have a significant involvement with a consumer organisation, which also underpins some of my research directions.

If you could discover one thing in your research, what would it be? (e.g what’s your holy grail?)

Something that people can easily do that limits the impact of arthritis on their daily lives and becomes part of everyday life.

What does your perfect day look like?

 A day when there are no interruptions and I can obtain some really interesting findings from my data

If you could keep three possessions what would they be?

 A entire family photo – my grandfather and my mother have suffered significantly from arthritis and I would like to think that something I do alleviates that and I also hope that my children don’t have to suffer from arthritis. It reminds me of what is important.

One of my photos of Venice as it is my favourite overseas destination.

A copy of my favourite book, The Book Thief.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

She helped a lot of people.

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