Biological mechanisms underpinning the social gradient of health

Lead Researcher Email Number Webpage
Dr Sharon Brennan-Olsen View page

Project Details

This program of research investigates musculoskeletal diseases as a socio-environmentally related health outcome. Demographic, economic, policy and behavioural factors, known as ‘the social determinants of health’, influence the risk factors for, and the outcomes associated with, musculoskeletal disease. This unique program of research also investigates the meeting of the ‘social’ and the ‘biological’ in musculoskeletal disease. Referred to as ‘social epigenomics’, this field of research focuses on explaining how experience becomes biology, or how the external environment influences biological processes and thus increases the risk of musculoskeletal disease.


Dr Sharon Brennan-Olsen, Senior Research Fellow, and NHMRC Career Development Fellow
Ms Darci Green, Research Assistant


Many international and national collaborators

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD, Masters by Research, Honours students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications

Riancho JA, Brennan-Olsen SL. The epigenome at the crossroad between social factors, inflammation and osteoporosis risk. Clinical Reviews of Bone and Mineral Metabolism, 2017;15(2): 59-68

Brennan-Olsen SL, Page RS, Berk M, Riancho JA, Leslie WD, Wilson SG, Saban KL, Janusek L, Pasco JA, Hodge JM, Quirk SE, Hyde NK, Hosking SM, Williams LJ. DNA methylation and the social gradient of osteoporotic fracture: A conceptual model. Bone, 2016;84: 204-212

Brennan-Olsen SL, Pasco JA, Williams LJ, Hyde NK, Jacka FJ. The microbiome: A biological mechanism underpinning the social gradient of musculoskeletal conditions? [Letter] J Bone Miner Res, 2016, 31(6):1315

Research Group

Social epigenomics and population health: Musculoskeletal disease

School Research Themes


Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Western Health


Western Health

Unit / Centre

Social epigenomics and population health: Musculoskeletal disease