Stuart Brierley

Professor, BSc, BSc Hons (1st Class), PhD

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Research activity per year

Personal profile

Public Profile

Professor Stuart Brierley is Director of the Visceral Pain Research Group, Director of the Hopwood Centre for Neurobiology, and Theme co-Leader of Lifelong Health at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).  He is an NHMRC Investigator L1 recipient (2022-2026) and received an NHMRC Research Excellence Award for being the top ranked NHMRC CDFII Fellow in the 2016 round. He was also a South Australian Tall Poppy Science Awardee in 2011.

Prof Brierley is an international expert on the 'gut-brain axis' and chronic visceral pain mechanisms. His resesarch comprises discovery and translational science investigating the nerve pathways innervating visceral organs to determine the causes of, and treatments for, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), bladder pain syndrome, and endometriosis. His research focuses on the role of different nerve pathways innervating the viscera, the channels and receptors underlying their function, the influence of the immune system, and how these mechanisms are changed during acute and chronic visceral pain. 

Prof Brierley has a strong track record in coordinating and working in multi-faceted research programs for high impact publications in journals such as Nature (x3), Cell, Nature Communications, Gastroenterology (x6), Gut (x10), PNAS, JCI Insight (3), Pain (x10), J. Neuroscience (x2), and has invited reviews in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology Hepatology (x2), Annual Reviews of Physiology, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences and Trends in Biomedical Sciences.

Prof Brierley has been awarded four NHMRC Fellowships (Investigator, CDF-II, CDF-I; Peter Doherty ECF) and is CIA on an NHMRC Development Grant (2022-2024).  He has been CI on 13 NHMRC Project Grants (since 2004), two recently completed NIH grants (as part of the HEAL/SPARC scheme), and two ARC Discovery Grants.

He also has a strong track record of industry collaboration. His recent collaborations with industry partners identified the mechanism of pain relief of a new drug (Linaclotide) in treating patients with IBS with constipation (IBS-C). Linaclotide, a guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C) agonist is effective in relieving abdominal pain associated with IBS-C and is available and registered for use by IBS-C patients in the USA and Europe.

For a current list of publications see:

Key positions

  • NHMRC Investigator Fellow (2022-2026)
  • President of the Australasian Neurogastroenterology and Motility Association (ANGMA).
  • Co-chair, 2021 Federation of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (FNM), Adelaide
  • NHMRC R.D Wright Biomedical Fellow (CDF II; 2017-2020)
  • NHMRC R.D Wright Biomedical Fellow (CDF I; 2013-2016)
  • NHMRC Australian Biomedical Fellow (2008-2012)

Research Interests

Prof Brierley is recognised by his peers as a leading international authority on the afferent pathways innervating our internal organs and how they relate to chronic visceral pain. His research comprises discovery and translational science investigating the causes and cures of chronic abdominal pain relevant to gastrointestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). These disorders are highly prevalent, affecting up to 15% of the Western population. In particular, his research focuses on the role of different afferent classes innervating tour internal organs, the channels underlying their function, the interaction of these channels with inflammatory and immune mediators, and how these processes change in acute and chronic pain. His recent research interests extends into other common causes for visceral pain including interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome and endometriosis and how ‘cross-organ sensitisation' can potentially explain co-morbidities in these patients.



  • Chronic Pain
  • Neuroscience
  • Visceral organs
  • Colon
  • Bladder
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Ion channels
  • GPCRs

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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