Stuart Brierley

Associate Professor Stuart Brierley

Associate Professor

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

A/Prof Brierley is an NHMRC R.D Wright Biomedical Fellow and Head of the Visceral Pain Group, Discipline of Medicine, University of Adelaide located in the Centre for Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Diseases at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

A/Prof Brierley is an international authority on the different afferent classes innervating the gut, the mechanotransduction channels underlying their function, the interaction of these channels with inflammatory mediators, and how this changes in acute and chronic pain. A/Prof Brierley has a proven track record in coordinating multi-faceted research programs for high-impact publications in journal such as Nature, Cell, Nature Communications, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Gastroenterology, Gut and The Journal of Neuroscience.

His recent collaborations with Industry partners identified the mechanism of pain relief of a new drug, linaclotide, in treating patient with Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C). Linaclotide, a guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C) agonist is effective in relieving abdominal pain associated with IBS-C and is already available and registered for use by IBS-C patients in the USA and Europe.

A/Prof Brierley is the current Treasurer of the Australasian Neurogastroenterology and Motility Association (ANGMA) and a Node leader for the Adelaide Centre For Neuroscience Research. He was also a South Australian Tall Poppy recipient in 2011.

Research Interests


For most people pain normally serves as an alarm that is activated in response to tissue damage. However, for people who suffer from chronic or long term pain, it does not subside and can in fact worsen over time. Clinically, chronic pain is a major unresolved worldwide problem.

A/Prof Brierley's research focuses on pain arising from the gut with particular emphasis on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In Australia IBS effects up to 15% of the population and although chronic pain is debilitating and significantly reduces a patient's quality of life there is no effective treatment. This research determines the mechanisms responsible for detecting painful events in the gut and how they change during acute and chronic conditions. It is clear that certain mechanisms are reprogrammed during chronic pain, which fail to "reset" back to normal. Overall, understanding how these mechanisms are changed is the first step in finding new therapeutic treatments for gut based pain.

Key aspects of gut based pain are discussed in A/Prof Brierley’s talk at the “Research Tuesday” free public seminar series at the University of Adelaide. Please see link below.


Teaching Interests


1) TRP channels: Critical targets for the treatment of chronic visceral pain.

This project will investigate TRP channels in colonic sensory neurons, determine their mechano and chemosensory properties, and how their function changes across acute and chronic pain models. We will determine how TRP expression is altered in tissue from human patients with chronic visceral, thereby linking TRP levels with symptoms. Project funded by NHMRC Australia.

2) Other Projects:
 Several additional projects are available that we are happy to discuss with potential HDR students. These projects focus on other pain targets and are also funded by NHMRC Australia. Contact: for details.

Techniques that students will perform include: electrophysiological afferent fibre recordings, patch clamp recordings, neuronal labeling, laser capture microdissection, QRT-PCR, tissue collection.



  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2015 Associate Professor University of Adelaide
    2013 NHMRC R.D. Wright Biomedical Fellow University of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    University of Adelaide Australia PhD

Research Funding


i) Current:

2015-2018: NHMRC Project Grant APP#1083480. (AUS$873,233). Chief Investigators. A/Prof Stuart M Brierley, Dr Daniel Poole, Prof Martin Steinhoff. "Is abdominal discomfort a colonic itch?"

2014-2017: NHMRC Project Grant APP#1063803 (AUS$660,558). Chief Investigators: Prof Paul Alewood, Dr Stuart M Brierley. "Stable oxytocin analogues - potential treatment for irritable bowel syndrome"

2013-2015: NHMRC Project Grant #APP1049928. (AUS $665,267.85). Chief Investigators: Prof David Adams, Dr Stuart M Brierley, Prof David Craik. "GABA(B) Receptor Modulation of Gastrointestinal Function in Health and Disease by Alpha-Conotoxins"

2013-2015: NHMRC Project Grant #APP1049682. (AUS $351,173.55). Chief Investigators: Prof Nigel Bunnett, Dr Graeme Cottrell, Dr Stuart M Brierley. "Mechanisms of protease-driven visceral pain"


ii) Previous:

2012-2014: NHMRC Project Grant #APP1023972. (AUS $603,375). Chief Investigators: A/Prof Amanda Page, Prof L. Ashley Blackshaw, Prof Gary Wittert, Dr Stuart M. Brierley. "The role of adipokines in modulation of gastric vagal afferent satiety signals".

2011-2013: NHMRC Project Grant #APP1008100. (AUS $436,299). Chief Investigators: Dr Stuart M. Brierley, Prof L. Ashley Blackshaw, A/Prof Grigori Y. Rychkov. "Ion channels underlying inflammatory and post-inflammatory visceral mechanical hypersensitivity"

2010-2012: NHMRC Project Grant #626960. (AUS $548,026). Chief Investigators: Dr Stuart M. Brierley, Prof L. Ashley Blackshaw, Prof Gerald Holtmann. "Viscerosensory neuroimmune interactions".

2008-2010: NHMRC Project Grant #508103. (AUS $641,000). Chief Investigators: Prof L. Ashley Blackshaw, Dr Stuart M. Brierley, Dr Grigori Y. Rychkov, Prof Gerald Holtmann. "Transient receptor potential channels (TRPs) as transducers and targets in primary visceral afferents".

2006-2008: NHMRC Project Grant #399324. (AUS $602,250). Chief Investigators: Prof L. Ashley Blackshaw, Prof Simon Brookes, Dr Stuart M. Brierley, Dr Amanda J Page. "How does inflammation of the gut change its sensory innervation?"

2004-2006: NHMRC Project Grant #298942. (AUS $249,750). Chief Investigators: A/Prof L. Ashley Blackshaw, Dr Amanda J Page, Dr Stuart M. Brierley. "Mechanisms of mechanotransduction in primary visceral afferents".

  • Position: Associate Professor
  • Phone: 81284848
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: SAHMRI, floor 7
  • Org Unit: Medical Specialties

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