Keynote speakers

  • Mary O'Keeffe
    Mary O'Keeffe Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, University of Sydney, Australia
    Mary O'Keeffe

    1st strand keynote: Innovative models of care in musculoskeletal and manual physical therapy


    Curriculum Vitae

    Mary O'Keeffe, PhD
    Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, University of Sydney, Australia

    Dr Mary O’Keeffe is a physiotherapist, journalist, Research Fellow at the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, University of Sydney, Australia and Research Projects Officer at the European Pain Federation (EFIC), Brussels, Belgium. She received her PhD in 2017 from the University of Limerick, Ireland. This examined the multidimensional nature of chronic low back pain and the effectiveness of Cognitive Functional Therapy compared to group exercise and education. In 2018 she received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship from the European Commission to conduct research at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is an invited member of the Presidential Task Force for Early Career Researchers at the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), and Chair of Research Communication for IASP’s Musculoskeletal Pain Special Interest Group. She has >100 peer-reviewed publications (>3,000 citations). Her research on back pain and communication has been published in leading medical (The Lancet, JAMA Internal Medicine, British Medical Journal) and specialist (British Journal of Sports Medicine, PAIN, European Journal of Pain) journals, and has received numerous awards. She is very passionate about research in the media and contributed to news articles(x63), radio(x15), podcasts(x5) generated international attention reaching >10 million people (Isentia/Meltwater) including New Scientist, New York Times and The Guardian. She is currently leading the development of a guideline for the better reporting of health and medical press releases (Press-Release Reporting Exemplar).

  • David Nicholls
    David Nicholls School of Clinical Sciences AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand
    David Nicholls

    2nd strand keynote: Physical therapy futures - emerging areas


    Curriculum Vitae

    Prof. David Nicholls PhD, MA, GradDip, MPNZ, SFHEA
    School of Clinical Sciences AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand

    Dave Nicholls is a Professor of Critical Physiotherapy in the School of Clinical Sciences at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand.  He is a physiotherapist, lecturer, researcher and writer, with a passion for critical thinking in and around the physical therapies.  David is the founder of the Critical Physiotherapy Network, an organisation that promotes the use of cultural studies, education, history, philosophy, sociology, and a range of other disciplines in the study of the profession’s past, present and future.  He is also co-founder and chair of the International Physiotherapy History Association Executive, and founding Executive member of the Environmental Physiotherapy Association. David’s own research work focuses on the philosophy, sociology, and critical history of physiotherapy, and considers how physiotherapy might need to adapt to the changing economy of health care in the 21st century.  He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, many as first author.  His first book – The End of Physiotherapy (Routledge, 2017) – was the first book-length critical history of the profession. A second sole-authored book – Physiotherapy Otherwise – was published in early 2022 as a free pdf/eBook (available from He was co-editor on the first collection of critical physiotherapy writings – Manipulating Practices (Cappelen Damm, 2018) – and was the lead editor for the follow-up – Mobilising Knowledge (Routledge, 2020). He is also very active on social media, writing weekly on contemporary critical physiotherapy issues. In early 2023 he established a new site specialising in post-critical healthcare ( He has taught in physiotherapy programmes in the UK and New Zealand for over 30 years and has presented his work around the world. 

  • Annina Schmid
    Annina Schmid Oxford University, UK
    Annina Schmid

    3rd strand keynote: Expertise in muculoskeletal and manual physical therapy


    Curriculum Vitae

    Prof. Annina Schmid
    Oxford University, UK

    Prof Annina Schmid is a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist and a neuroscientist affiliated with the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford University in the UK. She leads the Neuromusculoskeletal Health and Science Lab which uses a translational and interdisciplinary approach to study the pathophysiology of neuromusculoskeletal conditions with the ultimate goal to improve management for patients. Annina has a particular interest in entrapment neuropathies and neuropathic pain and the development of precision therapy for these patients. She has trained over 25 scientists and clinicians in her lab and maintains a strong international collaborative network.

    Annina has published her work in leading clinical and basic science journals and regularly presents her work at international meetings. Her research contributions have been recognised by the award of several prizes (most recently the Emerging Leaders Prize in Pain Research, Medical Research Foundation) and competitive fellowships. She was the first allied health professional to win a prestigious Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust.

    In addition to her research activities, Dr Schmid teaches postgraduate courses related to pain and neuroscience internationally. She also maintains a weekly caseload as a specialist musculoskeletal Physiotherapist both privately and in the NHS. Further information can be found at