Home > Diseases we research > Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis, which literally means porous bone, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. The loss of bone occurs silently and progressively. Often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs.
About osteoporosis

What is osteoporosis?

Bone is in a continuous state of remodelling throughout life, where old bone and damaged bone is removed (bone resorption) and replaced by new bone. As we age, this bone rebuilding process can become unbalanced, leaving bones thinner and more fragile.

This is osteoporosis – and when someone has osteoporosis, even a slight bump or fall can lead to a broken bone (a fragility fracture). A fragility fracture is one that involves a fall from a standing height or less, or an event that would not normally result in a fracture if the bone was healthy.

Key statistics

  • 3 seconds
    Worldwide, there is an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds
  • Fracture risk
    Many, especially older people, are unaware that they have osteoporosis and are at risk for fragility fractures
  • 1 in 3
    1 in 3 women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures
  • Silent killer
    Osteoporosis causes no pain until there is a fracture and many people are not aware they have osteoporosis
  • 1 in 5
    1 in 5 men over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures

Osteoporosis Research at Garvan

Garvan’s osteoporosis research is diverse, focusing on translating basic scientific discoveries into the clinic. Our scientists have developed a new understanding of how gene abnormalities lead to the development of osteoporosis and fragility fractures.

Research is now directed to discovering how to repair bone and to prevent osteoporosis in those who may have inherited an increased risk for the disease.

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