Biological mechanisms underpinning the social gradient of health

  • Senior Research Fellow Dr Sharon Brennan-Olsen

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  • 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

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