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A/PROF Sharon Brennan


  • Community Engagement and Participatory Actopm (participatory action)
  • Health inequities and musculoskeletal diseases (health inequality)
  • Social disadvantage in public health (socioeconomic status)
  • biological mechanisms underpinning social gradient of musculoskeletal disease (social-biological nexus)
  • musculoskeletal disease and social disadvantage (osteoporosis, osteoarthritis)
  • social disadvantage and musculoskeletal-related health service utilization (densitometry)



  • Associate Professor Sharon Brennan-Olsen is Principal Research Fellow and NHMRC Career Development Fellow with the Department of Medicine-Western Health, University of Melbourne, and Program Director of 'Social Epigenomics and Population Health' at the Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS). She manages the Osteosarcopenia Roadshow, and the online version of this training course, (both accredited GP training), is a Committee Member of the Women in Bone and Mineral Research for the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, and until recently she was Associate Editor for BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders Open Access Journal. Her research interests are the social determinants of musculoskeletal diseases and health service utilisation, and the biological mechanisms that may underpin the social gradient of musculoskeletal diseases. Her work encompasses a key focus on community engagement and knowledge translation. Since 2006 Associate Professor Brennan-Olsen has published more than 160 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, has been involved in attracting research grants totalling in excess of $4.2million, including her current NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (2016-2019), Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2015), a NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (2011-14) and NHMRC PhD Scholarship (2008-10). She is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards and prizes. Dr Brennan-Olsen is a dedicated research mentor, currently supervising postdoctoral researchers, five PhD students, MDRP (4th year MD students), and research assistants. She is an invited speaker and symposia presenter on the international stage, and has provided comment on a number of (inter)national documents including the 2012 Rio Declaration, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the 2013 NHMRC Research Translation Faculty focus on arthritis/musculoskeletal conditions, and the 2012 update to the Health Inequities Policy for the Public Health Association of Aust   


Member of

  • Australian and New Zealand Society for Sarcopenia and Frailty Research. Treasurer 2018 -
  • American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Full membership 2011 -
  • Australasian Epidemiological Association. Full membership 2011 -
  • Public Health Association of Australia. Full membership 2011 -
  • Australia and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society. Full membership 2007 -
  • Golden Key International Honour Society for Academic Excellence. Invitation for Academic Excellence 1997 -
  • The Australian Society for Medical Research. Full membership 2010 - 2013
  • The Australian Society for Psychological Research. Full membership 2010 - 2012
  • The Australian Sociological Association. Full Membership 2007 - 2009


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • Osteoporosis Australia, and the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, awarded her the Professor Philip Sambrook Award for Outstanding Early Career Investigator (2015) 
    Victorian Orthopaedic Research Trust, to examine socioeconomic status and shoulder joint replacement (2013)
    Arthritis Australia, to examine social patterning of shoulder joint replacement across Australia (2013) 
    Scientists' Prize for Most Outstanding Abstract, Geelong Research Network (2013)
    Annual President's Poster Competition Award, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (2013)
    Researcher of the Year Early Investigator Category, Geelong Research Network (2012)
    Dyason Fellowship, The University of Melbourne (2012)
    RM Gibson Scientific Research Award  (2012)
    University of Melbourne Strategic Grant (Early Career) (2012)
    Arthritis Victoria, to examine social patterning of knee and hip joint replacement across Australia (2011)
    GCALL Scholarship, School of Business, The University of Melbourne (2011-12) 
    Runner up Researcher of the Year (Disability Research), Geelong Research Network (2011)
    NHMRC Postdoctoral (Early Career) Fellowship (2011-14)
    NHMRC PhD Scholarship for PhD (2008-10)
    Alfred Research Trust Scholarship for PhD (2007)   


Education and training

  • GCALL, University of Melbourne 2012
  • PhD, Monash University 2011
  • BA (Hons), Deakin University 2005

Awards and honors

  • NHMRC Fellowship, 2016
  • Not in List, 2015
  • Professor Philip Sambrook Award for Outstanding Early Career Investigator, Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society; and Osteoporosis Australia, 2015
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Early Career Researcher Award for Research Excellence, Deakin University, 2014
  • Annual President's Poster Competition Award, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 2013
  • Most Outstanding Scientists' Research Presentation, Geelong Research Network, 2013
  • Medical Students' Annual Research Award, Barwon Health, 2012
  • Researcher of the Year, New Investigator Category, Geelong Research Network, 2012
  • Dyason Fellowship (Travel), The University of Melbourne, 2012
  • RM Gibson Scientific Research Award, Australian Association of Gerontology, 2011
  • Scholarship to undertake Graduate Certificate in Advanced Learning and Leadership (GCALL), The University of Melbourne, 2011
  • Alfred Research Trust, Alfred Hospital, 2006



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Assoc. Prof. Brennan-Olsen is registered with the University of Melbourne as a postgraduate supervisor. Her experience includes mentoring and supervision of early career researchers and PhD students, taking much pleasure in their awards and career achievements; such achievements of her students include an Early Career Investigator Award from the World Congress of Osteoporosis (2017 and 2018), an ESCEO-AgNovos Young Investigator Award (2019), an ESCEO-UCB Fellowship from the International Osteoporosis Foundation (2017), Young Investigator Awards from International Osteoporosis Foundation (2018, 2017, 2016, and 2011), highly competitive PhD Scholarships, and opportunities to speak at international conferences. Her current/previous RHD students are/have been investigating; (i) musculoskeletal risk factors for entry to nursing home (ii) the role played by maternal vitamin D on offspring bone health (iii) nutrition, body composition and socioeconomic status (iv) fracture risk in children with asthma (v) health literacy and the prevention of osteoporosis (vi) alcohol consumption and bone health (vii) associations between bone mineral density and prevalent cancer, (viii) post fracture care pathways, (ix) trajectories from pre-frail to sarcopenia, and (x) vitamin D screening tools. She is keen to speak with potential research students who are interested in examining social determinants of musculoskeletal health (osteoporosis, arthritis), joint replacement surgeries, barriers and enablers to health service utilisation for musculoskeletal health, and elucidating biological mechanisms that may underpin the social gradient of musculoskeletal disease.