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Nurul Haiza receives international acclaim for best spinal research paper

07 June 2018
Engineering student Nurul Haiza

Chemical and Materials PhD candidate Nurul Haiza (Zaza) had her research celebrated at the recent Spine Society of Australia convention in Adelaide. Zaza was judged to have submitted the best spinal research paper, resulting in an award of AUD$10,000.

Due to the financial prizes on offer, the annual conference is known to attract high-quality submissions from a range of clinical, science and engineering organisations, which outlines the scope of Zaza’s achievement.

The paper is entitled “New Evidence for Structural Integration across the Cartilage-Vertebral Endplate Junction and its Relation to Herniation” and was co-authored by Associate Professor Ashvin Thambyah, Dr Peter Robertson and Professor Neil Broom.

According to Dr Thambyah, the structure of the soft/hard tissue interface in the spine is notoriously difficult to study due to its structural complexity from the macro to the micro and down to the nano scalar levels.

“Zaza took on the challenge to study this complexity and her work showed precisely how the collagen and the mineral materials are combined as a composite that effectively integrates the mechanically-discordant tissues at the interface,” he explained.

“Her continuing study will contribute to a better understanding of the disc structures in relation to why and how it fails. Clinically, it is ultimately relevant to studying the problem of lower back pain and its mechanical factors.”