PhD candidate among elite Osteoarthritis researchers

Crystal Mackay // Western News

Schulich Medicine & Dentistry PhD candidate Anusha Ratneswaran first became interested in studying Osteoarthritis when she saw the effects of the disease first hand while working as a kinesiologist in a cardiac rehabilitation program.

“Many of the patients with osteoarthritis were unable to gain the benefits that the exercise conferred because they were unable to fully participate,” she said. “That really motivated me to pursue my research in this field.”

That motivation sent her halfway around the globe to Melbourne, Australia, to continue her research pursuits and learn from one of the leaders in the field. This international exchange is possible because Ratneswaran is one of this year’s recipients of a Collaborative Scholarship from the Osteoarthritis Research Society International.

She is one of only six recipients of this award worldwide.

“It felt great to be awarded this scholarship,” she said. “The project was judged on its potential to make an impact on the field, and it is amazing to think top researchers thought this of my work.”

Her project involves examining the role of a regulatory protein, PPARdelta, in the development of osteoarthritis. Supervised by Physiology and Pharmacology professor Frank Beier, her research has shown PPARdelta protects cartilage from degrading in a mouse model of osteoarthritis. The hope is this knowledge will eventually lead to developing a drug that would inhibit PPARdelta and stop, or delay, the progress of the disease.

Over the next six months, she will be working in Dr. Amanda Fonsang’s laboratory at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the University of Melbourne. She will be investigating what parts of the protein aggrecan, the principal component of cartilage, are broken down by the PPARdelta activation.

“These collaborative experiences are so important because they foster knowledge dissemination which drives innovation,” she said. “I feel like this will be a great learning experience and I’m excited to be a part of research all the way on the other side of the globe.”