A NSW Government website


2023 RPA Research Foundation Medal winner

Professor Christopher Maher awarded RPA Foundation Research Medal and Prize.

Man holding a framed certificate
SydneyConnect Image: Professor Chris Maher

Professor Chris Maher, founding Director of the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health (IMH), is this year’s winner of the RPA Foundation Research Medal and Prize.

“It’s a great honour and fantastic result,” he said.

A globally recognised academic, Professor Maher’s research evaluates the management of musculoskeletal conditions.

With a background in physiotherapy and a career spanning over 30 years, he is passionate about applying his research to improve health services that will benefit patients.

He has had more than 866 papers published and $71million in competitive grants received, and his work has transformed the understanding and management of low back pain, promoting the value of newer approaches such as self-management and psychological therapies.

“I’m proud of my background in Allied Health. It’s a good opportunity to show that there are excellent researchers, not only in the medical field, but also in allied health and nursing.”

Professor Maher’s significant contribution to RPA hospital was recognised through the award, particularly his role at IMH.

Established in 2017, IMH is a leading medical research facility focusing on improving musculoskeletal health and physical activity and is now in its seventh year of operation.

In the past year the Institute has secured 3 of the 10 Robinson Fellowships awarded by the University of Sydney and secured four awards from Sydney Research.

“My plans for the future of IMH are to increase the size of the Institute and also expand into new areas, such as the recently established commercial clinical trials unit,” he said. 

The $50,000 RPA Foundation Research prize will go towards his upcoming research in collaboration with RPA Virtual hospital and will identify factors that influence the effectiveness of telehealth.

He is open to the challenge of ensuring the benefits of telehealth are accessible to everyone. 

“There are some people in our community who are left behind, particularly those from culturally or linguistically diverse communities,” he said.

“That's what is good about research in the District to improve patient care. We can improve patient care by bringing research into clinical practice.” 

The program will use predictive modelling and machine learning to identity factors that influence the effectiveness and risk of poor outcomes of telehealth interventions, with the first step to develop a clinical decision tool to identify those unlikely to benefit from telehealth.

The program will also aim to identify the barriers that prevent clinicians from taking up telehealth services and also support the development of culturally tailored and accessible telehealth services.