Jennie Scarvell

Joint Professor of Allied Health, Director of UC Clinical School, CHS (Acting), Faculty of Health

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Most people manage their knee osteoarthritis without surgery. A framework for chronic disease management and better quality of life, includes access to timely and expert physiotherapy, exercise, pain and diet management.

Project 1: Co-design of research with consumers for management of knee osteoarthritis. Project 2: Can physiotherapy movement retraining, change the way people move their knees, and hence factors influencing progression of knee osteoarthritis.

I am currently available to supervise honours, Master or PhD students in the fields of Physiotherapy, biomechanics, clinical sciences, health, orthopaedic surgery and translation of research into practice.
I have a particular interest in clinical outcomes from physiotherapy and surgical interventions, as well as implementation of evidence into clinical practice and lifestyle change.
One of the most important things in starting a PhD is the relationship with your supervisor. I am happy to talk to potential students, to help them think through how they choose their supervisor, university and project and act as mentor.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Professor Jennie Scarvell is Acting Joint Professor of Allied Health, and Director of the UC Clinical School with Canberra Health Services. In this role collaborations, research translation and research capacity-building are key priorities. She was formerly Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Head of School, Health Sciences, and Head of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra. 

Professor Jennie Scarvell (PhD, GCert Higher Ed, BAppSc, Physiotherapy (Sydney)) was a clinical physiotherapist for 15 years, in Australia and Canada, and senior physiotherapist in outpatients and rheumatology before commencing a PhD in 2000. Her PhD (USyd) examined the development of osteoarthritis in injured knees. Jennie was one of the team that developed the Physiotherapy curriculum for the Master of Physiotherapy when it began at University of Canberra in 2004 and was deputy head and clinical education coordinator. Jennie spent 3 years as Clinical Research Coordinator in Orthopaedics at Canberra Hospital and then returned to UC as Head of Physiotherapy in 2011 for the commencement of the Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 2013. 

Jennie has 102 publications including 90 in SCOPUS and has supervised 15 HDR students to completion. She is a visiting fellow at the Trauma and Orthopaedic Research Unit at Canberra Hospital.

Research highlights are publications in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and presentations at the Combined Orthopaedic Meeting and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Jennie has over $1.8 million career grants funding. Her research focuses on  physiotherapy, arthritis and orthopaedics, using medical imaging to analyse joint kinematics. Clinical outcomes studies and intervention trials include physiotherapy for knee osteoarthritis, back pain, hip and knee replacement, and spinal fusion surgery.


Current Projects: 

Best practice in management of knee osteoarthritis. 

Alignment of total knee replacement using mechanical or kinematic axes. 


Quality of life and clinical outcomes from surgical fusion of the spine for children with neuromuscular scoliosis. Corinne Bridge, and Prof David Little, Westmead Children's Hospital. 

PICKLeS. Clinical and patient reported outcomes of three designs of total knee replacement. A randomised clinical trial of knee kinematics. Dr Diana Perriman (ACTH), Prof Paul Smith (ANU), Prof Mark Pickering (UNSW), and Joe Lynch, Catherine Galvin.

What is occupation in Occupational Therapy. Amelia Di Tommaso, Stephen Isbel, Alison Wicks.

Pilates for low back pain, a randomised controlled trial. Roopika Sodhi, Cherie Wells, Stuart Semple.


Student Projects Available

When is the right time to have a knee replacement?

People with knee osteoarthritis frequently ask physiotherapists for advice about knee replacement as they are perceived as neutral. On one hand the better, stronger you go into surgery, the better you'll be coming out. On the other hand only 80% of people are satisfied with thier knee replacement and last, they dont last forever, they wear out. Wouldnt it be great if there was a decision tool, based on the best of evidence, with which to advise people?  

Student Projects Available

How much knee flexion or extension matters? 

People with knee osteoarthritis experience stiffness that effects their ability to be active. Minimum clinically important difference is a value of what movement matters. Designing clinical research projects is based on 'what is the outcome that matters to people?' . This project works with people with knee stiffness to define the values of range of motion that matter.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Graduate Certificate Higher Education, University of Canberra

Award Date: 20 Jun 2019

PhD, Kinematics and degenerative change in ligament-injured knees, University of Sydney

1 Jan 20001 Feb 2004

Award Date: 7 Apr 2004

Bachelor, Bachelor of Applied Science, Physiotherapy, University of Sydney

2 Feb 19821 Jun 1985

Award Date: 7 Jul 1985

External positions

Visiting Fellow, Canberra Hospital

1 Feb 2004 → …


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