PI in the Musculoskeletal laboratory, (MSK Lab)
Bone health and ageing
Bone metrics for clinical decision-making
Environmental pollution and bone disease
Listen to an interview with Richie about his research on the BoneUp podcast (August 2023).
Dr Abel is a Senior Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London. He is a PI in the Musculoskeletal laboratory (MSk) where he leads the Bone Health Group supervising a multidisciplinary team of clinical and non-clinical scientists. Richie has authored more than 60 journal articles and book chapters, that have been cited over 2700 times (H-Index 31). Richie is the co-creator and co-host of the BoneUp podcast which aims to empower people living with bone disease and their families. The podcast received the 2022 Neil Mackenzie Public Engagement Award from the Bone Research Society.
Richie’s research pursues the evidence base for healthcare and environmental policy. His primary goals are to discover the mechanisms behind the remarkable mechanical properties of bone and better understand how ageing and environmental factors, like environmental pollution, modulate the response to mechanical loading, predisposing bones to osteoporotic fracture from the molecular scale up. Then apply the knowledge and evidence base to improve policy, diagnostics, and interventions for bone disease.
His technical innovations have resulted in new methods for studying tissue and organ mechanics from the molecular scale-up. His work included introducing synchrotron imaging methods to bone health research in humans. He combines synchrotron X-ray imaging techniques with microscopy and atomistic molecular dynamic modelling to determine the molecular and nanoscale mechanisms responsible for altering higher-scale mechanical properties in bone. Riche applies the methods to study the mechanisms underlying the effects of ageing and the environment on bone health and disease.
Richie is translating the research by testing the application of bone health measures for clinical decision-making in surgery of the hip and spine. His work also includes the introduction of novel diagnostic and screening technologies in healthcare to improve the identification and treatment of osteoporosis. Richie works with companies developing healthcare technologies (e.g., X-ray and ultrasound) by supporting the design and delivery of preclinical and clinical trials. Richie also studies the natural history of bone stress injuries in dancers (ballet and contemporary) to improve the health and well-being of dancers and develop decision-making around ceasing and then returning to play.
Richie is a JBMR Plus Editorial Board (2022-2024) and has served on numerous committees and working groups supporting research and translation including the Royal Osteoporosis Society (Cure Advisory Group, Technology Academy), The Diamond Light (K11 DIAD beamline), the British Orthopaedic Society (Secretary). He chaired the organising committee of the British Orthopaedic Society (2018) and sits on the Royal Osteoporosis Society Conference Committee (2023).
Richie is well-known for his research investigating why some people age healthily whilst others sustain osteoporotic fractures. Their milestone papers are published in Scientific Reports (https://doi.org/10.1038/srep43399, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69783-5) and were featured on BBC Radio, ToDay programme 1/3/2017, Inside Health programme 14/3/2017, Guardian 13/3/2017, and Daily Mail 27/8/20. The work provided unique insight as it addressed bone mechanics at a near-molecular scale enabled by synchrotron diffraction experiments. The group is one of only a handful worldwide with demonstrated expertise to carry out these unique experiments. Publishing an invited review on the clinical importance of molecular bone mechanics in Current Osteoporosis Reports (https://doi.org/10.1007/s11914-021-00678-8).
This research was funded by The Royal Osteoporosis Society, the Wellcome Trust Accelerator Award, and donations from Michael Uren Foundation and The Doctor Mortimer & Teresa Sackler Foundation. Engagement and collaboration were supported by the MIT-Imperial College London (MISTI) Seed Fund and the Institute of Molecular Science (IMSE) seed award.
Richie Abel and David Armstrong created the award-winning podcast about bone. You can listen almost anywhere:
Read more about us and see some photos on the Faculty outreach page.
et al., 2013, 3D Imaging Bone Quality: Bench to Bedside, Hard Tissue, Vol:2, ISSN:2050-2303
et al., 2013, Fracture after androgen deprivation therapy among men with a high baseline risk of skeletal complications, Bjui, Vol:112, Pages:E431-E433
Abel RL, Laurini C, Richter M, 2012, A biologist's guide to ‘virtual’ micro-CT preparation, Palaeontologia Electronica, Vol:15, Pages:1-16
Reissis D, Abel RL, 2012, Development of fetal trabecular micro-architecture in the humerus and femur, Journal of Anatomy, Vol:220, Pages:496-503
Abel R, Macho GA, 2011, Ontogenetic changes in the internal and external morphology of the ilium in modern humans., Journal of Anatomy, Vol:218, ISSN:1469-7580, Pages:324-335
et al., 2011, An Exploratory Study on the Combined Effects of External and Internal Morphology on Load Dissipation in Primate Capitates: Its Potential for an Understanding of the Positional and Locomotor Repertoire of Early Hominins, Folia Primatologica, Vol:81, ISSN:0015-5713, Pages:292-304
et al., 2011, AIP Mutation in Pituitary Adenomas in the 18th Century and Today, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol:364, Pages:33-40
et al., 2010, Early Pleistocene human occupation at the edge of the boreal zone in northwest Europe, Nature, Vol:466, Pages:229-233
et al., 2006, Automated method to measure trabecular thickness from microcomputed tomographic scans and its application, The Anatomical Record Part A: Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology, Vol:288A, ISSN:1552-4892, Pages:982-988
Macho GA, Abel RL, Schutkowski H, 2005, Age changes in bone microstructure: do they occur uniformly?, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Vol:15, ISSN:1099-1212, Pages:421-430