Gustavo Duque, M.D., Ph.D., FRACP
Institution: Sydney Medical School Nepean, The University of Sydney
Career Stage: Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Director Ageing Bone Research Program at Sydney Medical School Nepean, The University of Sydney
Research Focus: mesenchymal stem cell differentiation, marrow adipogenesis, relationship between fat and bone, falls and fracture prevention in older persons, sarcopenia and frailty.
ASBMR committee/leadership positions held:
- Member of the ASBMR publications committee between 2007-2010
- Current member of the ASBMR Membership Engagement Committee (appointed for the period 2011-2014)
1) What brought you to the bone field and why have you stayed?
My interest in the bone field started during my training as Internal Medicine resident in Colombia. I was invited to present to my peers on the subject of pathophysiology and treatment of osteoporosis. Since then, I became passionate about the complexities of bone biology and thus started asking myself a lot of questions about how the bone ages and how could we prevent fractures in older persons. After completing my training as a geriatrician in Canada, I was lucky enough to pursue a Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Richard Kremer at McGill University in Canada. My experience at the Bone and Periodontal Centre at McGill University gave me the unique opportunity to interact with a very well respected team of experts in the field who motivated me to generate and test my own hypotheses. After developing a particular interest in the mechanisms of marrow adipogenesis and the effect of increasing marrow fat on bone biology, and after moving to my new position in Australia, I have been able to build up a critical mass of international collaborators and friends who are always available to provide me with guidance and mentorship. At my own program, we now have a growing team of junior scientists who are becoming passionate for the bone field and very interested in developing interactions with their colleagues around the world. In summary, my career in the bone field has allowed me to do what I like in life, which is to translate our research findings into potential clinical applications in the near future. While enjoying my job in the bone field I have made very good friends and I have had the opportunity to share my experience with my peers and colleagues. Finally, I have been lucky enough to train and promote a new generation of young scientists that will keep the field growing in the future, which is by itself enough reason to stay in this exciting field.
2) What has been your favorite ASBMR Annual Meeting moment?
My favorite ASBMR Annual Meeting moment happened in 2003 when I received my ASBMR Young Investigator Award. Receiving this Award in front of my mentors and colleagues was an exciting and remarkable moment in my career as bone researcher. The Award also served as motivation to continue my career in the field, to keep up my research productivity, and to lead my trainees to become successful researchers in the field. The same year, I had the opportunity of presenting my results in front of my colleagues as an oral presentation. I admit that it was not my favorite moment at that time but it was later on in my career when I understood the importance of sharing our results with our peers while receiving their constructive feedback. Since then, I enjoy every moment when I can discuss my research with my colleagues at our annual meetings. I always come back home with lots of feedback and recommendations that improve my research program and help me to generate new ideas and hypotheses.
3) How does your research make a difference?
As a geriatrician and bone biologist, I have a different approach to the understanding of osteoporosis. In my field, we give special emphasis to the role that ageing plays in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis, falls and fractures. Therefore, we try to integrate the aging phenomenon into the current knowledge, which has been generated by our colleagues in other specialties. There are typical features of aging bone that are more dramatic in osteoporotic patients. The most typical example is the fat infiltration observed in bone marrow of ageing individuals. This infiltration is more severe in post-menopausal and osteoporotic individuals.
I think that our research has made a difference because we are not only generating evidence on the mechanisms of age-related bone loss but we are also trying to develop new translational research by testing potentially new osteoporosis treatments, which target the marrow fat instead of targeting the bone cells as such. Our most recent publications have supported the notion that we could treat osteoporosis from the fat perspective. By reporting this evidence, we have continued and complemented the research from other colleagues who have been working in the field for the last two decades. Hopefully, the results that we have obtained in animal models will be translated into human subjects in the future, which will really make a difference. I think that we are just planting the seed, and I hope that I will still be in the field at the time in which we can collect our harvest.