University of Adelaide graduate Dr Tania Crotti is gaining an international profile for her research into bone degeneration and inflammation.
The highly-awarded young investigator, who has a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree and a PhD in Medicine, is among a group of early career researchers who have left Adelaide to further their skills and networks abroad before returning home to pass on this expertise.
According to Dr Crotti, it’s these offshore experiences which often lay the foundations for many successful research collaborations.
Dr Crotti spent almost six years at the Harvard Institute of Medicine in the United States after winning an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship in 2003.
Her research in Boston was focused on the regulation of the principal cell type responsible for bone loss, the osteoclast.
While at Harvard, Dr Crotti worked alongside some of the world’s best researchers in her field, including renowned rheumatologist Professor Steve Goldring and Associate Professor Kevin McHugh, a biochemist and molecular biologist.
“Working at Harvard not only introduced me to ground-breaking medical techniques, but also made me appreciate the need for collaborating and networking,” Dr Tania said.
“This is so crucial to research and has enabled me to create my own collaborations back in Adelaide.”
Dr Crotti also ran a musculoskeletal lecture series in Boston with guest lecturers from across the United States and Europe.
Conferences have provided other opportunities to network, collaborate and gain inspiration from other researchers.
“It’s important to be proactive as a young researcher and to seek out travel grants so you can attend conferences and learn from others. They really invigorate you and often add another piece of the puzzle to your research.”
Since returning to Adelaide in 2008, Dr Crotti has focused much of her attention on rheumatoid arthritis and peri-implant failure.
This research is emerging as a critical area of knowledge in an ageing society, where osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis collectively affect about 4 million Australians – about 20% of the population.
In collaboration with the Repatriation Hospital and Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dr Crotti is currently analysing the mechanisms involved in bone loss associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
A $25,000 grant from Arthritis Australia awarded to Dr Crotti in November 2012 will help further her research in this area.
Her lab also investigates why many prosthetic implants used to treat late-stage osteoarthritis patients have failed.
Dr Crotti splits her time between researching and teaching, discovering that each informs the other.
“As a researcher it’s wonderful to get involved in teaching because you learn to think in a different way and students ask questions that often make me appreciate or question a concept from another angle,” she said.