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. Epigenetic processes are responsive to experiences during development, growth and aging, and have important roles in regulating gene expression. Referred to as ‘social epigenomics’, this field of research focuses on explaining how experience becomes biology.

Dr Sharon Brennan-Olsen
Program Director
Sharon Brennan-Olsen is Senior Research Fellow and Program Director of ‘Social Epigenomics and Population Health’, funded by a competitive NHMRC Career Development Fellowship. Her research interests are the social determinants of musculoskeletal diseases and related health service utilisation, and her more recent investigations into biological mechanisms, such as inflammation, that may underpin the social gradient of osteoporosis, osteosarcopenia and arthritis diseases. She manages the Osteosarcopenia Roadshow (accredited training workshop for General Practitioners), and is a member of the Women in Bone Science Committee of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Her track record includes >130 peer-reviewed publications, and has been involved in attracting research grants exceeding $3.5million.
  • Social determinants of musculoskeletal health
  • Health equity
  • Biological mechanisms underpinning social gradient of musculoskeletal disease
  • Social disadvantage across the lifecourse and later onset of musculoskeletal disease
  • Brimbank Birth Cohort
  • Community engagement
Our Team