Social epigenomics and population health: Musculoskeletal disease

Research Overview

Days of the nature-nurture debate are long gone: today, it is understood that our health is primarily a result of our environment. Environmental factors influence our health in utero and continue to do so until mortality: in other terms, where we are born, grow, play, live, and work, influences our prospects of healthy aging. This program of research investigates the role played by the environment on musculoskeletal disease: sarcopenia, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Our work spans the entire lifecourse and thus includes early life determinants and precursors to disease onset, encompasses individual-level social and cultural factors and upstream social determinants that are out the individual’s control, and includes low-, middle- and higher-income countries. This research program also investigates the biological mechanisms that underpin the social gradient of musculoskeletal disease, and aims to understand how experience becomes biology.


A/Prof Sharon Brennan-Olsen, Senior Research Fellow, and NHMRC Career Development Fellow

Dr Alison Beauchamp, NHMRC TRIP Fellow

Ms Stefanie Bird, Research Assistant


Many international and national collaborators

Research Opportunities

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

Research Projects

School Research Themes

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Principal Fellow Associate Professor Sharon Brennan-Olsen

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