Dr Erin Shanahan

BSc Adv Hons PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher


    The Microbiome of the Upper Gut and its role Functional Dyspepsia

    The bacterial community (microbiome) inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in health, and changes to the microbiome can lead to inflammatory disorders. The microbiome of the mucosal layers of the stomach and duodenum remains poorly characterised compared to that of the lower bowel.  This project aims to characterise the bacterial communities present in these regions, and investigate their role in health and disease.

    Functional dyspepsia is a common disorder which is linked to the upper regions of the gut/abdomen, and is characterised by inflammation, immune activation and symptoms such as severe chronic upper abdominal pain, bloating and altered gastric emptying. This chronic condition is associated with significant reductions in quality of life, psychiatric co-morbidities, and is a substantial burden on the health system.  There is currently no effective treatment and the underlying causes of functional dyspepsia remain to be determined.  This project will investigate the microbiome for its role in functional dyspepsia.

    Australia has a high burden of functional/inflammatory disorders, and increasing our understanding of interactions between the immune system and specific bacterial components within the microbiome will facilitate development of diagnostic tests, novel treatments and improved clinical outcomes for patients.

    The microbiome in gastrointestinal disorders

    About me

    Erin Shanahan received her PhD in molecular microbiology and host-pathogen interactions at the University of Sydney.  As a postdoctoral researcher at the TRI, Erin now works on the role of the microbiome in gastrointestinal disorders, facilitating collaboration between the Gastroenterology Group (led by Prof Gerald Holtmann) and the Metagenomic Group (led by Prof Mark Morrison).  Erin is the laboratory coordinator for the Gastroenterology Group and a research officer with the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.  She is also a visiting researcher at the UQ Diamantina Institute, and is a key member of the Metagenomic Group.

    Research fields

    Microbiology; Host-microbe interactions; Gastrointestinal disorders