Dr Sharon Hollins

Dr Sharon Hollins

Postdoctoral Fellow

School of Psychology (Biological Sciences)

Career Summary

Biography

Dr Sharon Hollins is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow with the School of Psychology.  She completed her PhD in Molecular Neurobiology in 2017 in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle.  Dr Hollins has a multi-faceted research background, with qualifications and experience in biomedical sciences, molecular neurobiology, medical biochemistry, immunology and microbiology.  Her PhD research focused on post-transcriptional gene regulation during foetal and adolescent neurodevelopment, and the impact of environmental stressors upon their expression and interaction.  

In her postdoctoral role at the University of Newcastle's School of Psychology, she has continued her research into how early-life exposures can contribute to disease risk. In particular, how exposure to immune activation during gestation or during early life can affect brain development and have a long-term impact on mental health.

In particular, Dr Hollins is interested in the gut-brain axis and her work focuses on molecular pathways and pathologies that underlie gut-brain interactions, and how alterations in this communication can lead to impaired mental health.   She is also interested in how the microbiome, the bacteria that live in our gut, can predispose to, or protect us from, psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

She has presented her work at both national and international conferences and continues to publish her findings.  She is an Early Career Researcher representative for the Centre of Brain and Mental Health Research and has received ~$30K in pilot grant funding through the Faculty of Science at the University of Newcastle.

Future Focus

To understand how the interactions between our microbiome in the gastrointestinal tract, our immune system and our brain, may predispose to chronic psychopathologies starting in childhood.  By understanding these interactions we can use personalised treatment to treat or prevent mental health disorders.


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Open Foundation, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Hons), University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • gastrointestinal
  • microbiome
  • prenatal

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
170101 Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology) 50
110999 Neurosciences not elsewhere classified 50

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Postdoctoral Fellow University of Newcastle
School of Psychology
Australia
Casual Academic University of Newcastle
School of Psychology
Australia
Casual Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Australia
Casual Academic University of Newcastle
School of Psychology
Australia

Teaching

Code Course Role Duration
HUBS3205 Human Pharmacology
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle

This course covers fundamental pharmacological principles and the mechanism of actions that govern the therapeutic and safe use of drugs. The focus of the course is on the pharmacology of drugs acting on systems in the body such as the cardiovascular, endocrine, renal, gastrointestinal tract systems and the central nervous system. Additionally, the mechanisms of action of drugs in developments and newly available drugs is studied including new anti-cancer therapeutic approaches.  



Casual Lecturer 4/03/2019 - 4/06/2019
HUBS3103 Mental and Neurological Health
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle

Specific conditions covered in this course include neurological and mental health conditions, including head injuries and the control of intracranial pressure. Concepts around the use of illicit drugs and drug abuse are also covered in this course. The course considers aspects of pharmacy practice including a systematic review of prescription and non-prescription medications and will address the quality use of medicines in the management of these conditions. 

Casual Lecturer 4/03/2019 - 4/06/2019
PSYC3700 Advanced Developmental Psychology and Developmental Psychopathology
School of Psychology, Faculty of Science & IT, University of Newcastle
Course provides in depth coverage of basic principles and theories of physical, cognitive, social and personality changes that occur across the lifespan, as well as specialised topics in these areas.

 


Casual Lecturer 4/03/2019 - 4/06/2019
PSYC6000 Foundations of Applied Psychology 1
School of Psychology, Faculty of Science & IT, University of Newcastle

This course provides a brief overview of the key areas of Psychology for students with no prior background in the discipline.

Course Coordinator 4/03/2019 - 5/07/2019
PSYC1020 Psychology Introduction 2
School of Psychology, Faculty of Science & IT, University of Newcastle
Neuroscience lectures.
Casual Lecturer 6/03/2017 - 2/06/2017
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Chapter (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Hollins SL, Bruce J, Keely S, Hodgson D, 'The Gut-Brain Axis in Neuropsychopathology', Advances in Psychobiology, Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, NY 11788-3619 USA 189-218 (2018) [B1]
Citations Scopus - 1
Co-authors Simon Keely, Deborah Hodgson
2016 Cairns MJ, Hollins SH, 'Protocol for High-Throughput miRNA Profiling of the Rat Brain', Epigenetic Methods in Neuroscience Research, Humana Press, New York 209-241 (2016) [B1]
Co-authors Murray Cairns, Rohan Walker

Journal article (7 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 Hollins SL, Hodgson DM, 'Stress, microbiota, and immunity', Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 28 66-71 (2019) [C1]

© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Converging lines of evidence suggest that the relationship between the gut and the brain is a factor in the onset of psychopathology. The complexity of this re... [more]

© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Converging lines of evidence suggest that the relationship between the gut and the brain is a factor in the onset of psychopathology. The complexity of this relationship from development to adulthood, and its central roles in general health and wellbeing, are becoming increasingly appreciated. In particular, the composition of bacteria within the gut is now believed to have a key role in mental health. We outline recent literature on alterations in the gut microbiome in response to stress throughout development. We review how these alterations can lead to perturbations in immune responses and to psychiatric disorders, and we discuss current methods of altering the microbiome to treat these disorders. This review aims to provide a better understanding of the relationship between stress, the microbiome, immune responses and psychopathology.

DOI 10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.01.015
Co-authors Deborah Hodgson
2018 Hollins SL, Brock L, Barreto R, Harms L, Dunn A, Garcia-Sobrinho P, et al., 'A rodent model of anxiety: The effect of perinatal immune challenges on gastrointestinal inflammation and integrity', NeuroImmunoModulation, 25 163-175 (2018) [C1]

© 2018 S. Karger AG, Basel. Objectives: Gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation and GI integrity deficits are common comorbidities of neuropsychiatric disorders. Ongoing research sugge... [more]

© 2018 S. Karger AG, Basel. Objectives: Gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation and GI integrity deficits are common comorbidities of neuropsychiatric disorders. Ongoing research suggests that these aberrations may be contributing to heightened immune signals that have the potential to disrupt neuronal homeostasis and exacerbate behavioural deficits. The current study aimed to determine whether the well-characterized animal model of neuropsychopathology, the maternal immune activation (MIA) model, produced GI inflammation and integrity disruptions in association with anxiety-like behaviour. Methods: Pregnant Wistar rats were exposed to the viral mimetic polyriboinosinic:polyribocytidilic acid (polyI:C) on gestational days (GD) 10 and 19. Evidence of ANS activation, GI inflammation, and GI barrier integrity was assessed in both neonatal (postnatal day, P7) and adult (P84) offspring. Anxiety-like behaviour was assessed at P100. Results: Neonatal MIA offspring exhibited an altered intestinal inflammatory profile and evidence of an increase in lymphoid aggregates. MIA neonates also displayed disruptions to GI barrier tight junction protein mRNA. In addition, adult MIA offspring exhibited an increase in anxiety-like behaviours. Conclusion: These results indicate that the MIA rat model, which is well documented to produce behavioural, neurochemical, and neuroanatomical abnormalities, also produces GI inflammation and integrity disruptions. We suggest that this model may be a useful tool to elucidate biological pathways associated with neuropsychiatric disorders.

DOI 10.1159/000493320
Co-authors Marjorie Walker, Deborah Hodgson, Simon Keely, Lauren Harms, Phil Dickson
2016 Hollins S, Walker F, cairns M, 'Small RNA regulation of neural gene expression in response to environmental exposure associated with neuropsychiatric syndromes', RNA & DISEASE, 3 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.14800/rd.1382
Co-authors Rohan Walker, Murray Cairns
2016 Hollins SL, Zavitsanou K, Walker FR, Cairns MJ, 'Alteration of transcriptional networks in the entorhinal cortex after maternal immune activation and adolescent cannabinoid exposure', Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 56 187-196 (2016) [C1]

© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Maternal immune activation (MIA) and adolescent cannabinoid exposure (ACE) have both been identified as major environmental risk factors for schizophrenia. We... [more]

© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Maternal immune activation (MIA) and adolescent cannabinoid exposure (ACE) have both been identified as major environmental risk factors for schizophrenia. We examined the effects of these two risk factors alone, and in combination, on gene expression during late adolescence. Pregnant rats were exposed to the viral infection mimic polyriboinosinic-polyribocytidylic acid (poly I:C) on gestational day (GD) 15. Adolescent offspring received daily injections of the cannabinoid HU210 for 14 days starting on postnatal day (PND) 35. Gene expression was examined in the left entorhinal cortex (EC) using mRNA microarrays. We found prenatal treatment with poly I:C alone, or HU210 alone, produced relatively minor changes in gene expression. However, following combined treatments, offspring displayed significant changes in transcription. This dramatic and persistent alteration of transcriptional networks enriched with genes involved in neurotransmission, cellular signalling and schizophrenia, was associated with a corresponding perturbation in the expression of small non-coding microRNA (miRNA). These results suggest that a combination of environmental exposures during development leads to significant genomic remodeling that disrupts maturation of the EC and its associated circuitry with important implications as the potential antecedents of memory and learning deficits in schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

DOI 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.02.021
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 3
Co-authors Murray Cairns, Rohan Walker
2016 Hollins SL, Cairns MJ, 'MicroRNA: Small RNA mediators of the brains genomic response to environmental stress', Progress in Neurobiology, 143 61-81 (2016) [C1]

© 2016 The Authors The developmental processes that establish the synaptic architecture of the brain while retaining capacity for activity-dependent remodeling, are complex and in... [more]

© 2016 The Authors The developmental processes that establish the synaptic architecture of the brain while retaining capacity for activity-dependent remodeling, are complex and involve a combination of genetic and epigenetic influences. Dysregulation of these processes can lead to problems with neural circuitry which manifest in humans as a range of neurodevelopmental syndromes, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and fragile X mental retardation. Recent studies suggest that prenatal, postnatal and intergenerational environmental factors play an important role in the aetiology of stress-related psychopathology. A number of these disorders have been shown to display epigenetic changes in the postmortem brain that reflect early life experience. These changes affect the regulation of gene expression though chromatin remodeling (transcriptional) and post-transcriptional influences, especially small noncoding microRNA (miRNA). These dynamic and influential molecules appear to play an important function in both brain development and its adaption to stress. In this review, we examine the role of miRNA in mediating the brain's response to both prenatal and postnatal environmental perturbations and explore how stress- induced alterations in miRNA expression can regulate the stress response via modulation of the immune system. Given the close relationship between environmental stress, miRNA, and brain development/function, we assert that miRNA hold a significant position at the molecular crossroads between neural development and adaptations to environmental stress. A greater understanding of the dynamics that mediate an individual's predisposition to stress-induced neuropathology has major human health benefits and is an important area of research.

DOI 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2016.06.005
Citations Scopus - 35Web of Science - 30
Co-authors Murray Cairns
2014 Hollins SL, Goldie BJ, Carroll AP, Mason EA, Walker FR, Eyles DW, Cairns MJ, 'Ontogeny of small RNA in the regulation of mammalian brain development', BMC GENOMICS, 15 (2014) [C1]
DOI 10.1186/1471-2164-15-777
Citations Scopus - 10Web of Science - 9
Co-authors Rohan Walker, Murray Cairns
2014 Hollins SL, Zavitsanou K, Walker FR, Cairns MJ, 'Alteration of imprinted Dlk1-Dio3 miRNA cluster expression in the entorhinal cortex induced by maternal immune activation and adolescent cannabinoid exposure.', Transl Psychiatry, 4 e452 (2014) [C1]
DOI 10.1038/tp.2014.99
Citations Scopus - 26Web of Science - 25
Co-authors Rohan Walker, Murray Cairns
Show 4 more journal articles

Conference (11 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Martin K, Johnstone D, Dosen P, Graham R, Van Helden D, Kerr KP, et al., 'Cardiac iron loading and pacemaker activity in two mouse models of genetic haemochromatosis', Newcastle (2016) [E3]
Co-authors Dirk Vanhelden, Karen Kerr, Liz Milward, Derek Laver
2016 Martin K, Johnstone D, Dosen P, Graham R, Liu J, Van helden D, et al., 'Increased iron loading in mouse models of genetic haemochromatosis and the assessment of cardiac function', Sydney (2016) [E3]
Co-authors Karen Kerr, Derek Laver, Dirk Vanhelden, Liz Milward
2016 Martin K, Johnstone D, Graham R, Van Helden D, Kerr KP, Hollins S, et al., 'Alterations in cardiac iron status, electrophysiological responses and transcript levels in mouse models of dietary and genetic iron loading', Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China (2016)
Co-authors Dirk Vanhelden, Karen Kerr, Derek Laver, Liz Milward
2015 Martin K, Johnstone D, Graham R, Van Helden D, Kerr KP, Hollins S, et al., 'The effects of iron loading on electrophysiological responses and transcript levels in dietary or genetic mouse models.', Sydney (2015) [E3]
Co-authors Karen Kerr, Dirk Vanhelden, Derek Laver, Liz Milward
2014 Hollins SL, Cairns MJ, Zavitsanou K, Walker FR, 'INTERACTION OF MATERNAL INFECTION AND ADOLESCENT CANNABINOID EXPOSURE ON MIRNA REGULATION OF GENE EXPRESSION IN THE ADULT ENTORHINAL CORTEX', SCHIZOPHRENIA RESEARCH (2014)
Co-authors Murray Cairns, Rohan Walker
2012 Cairns MJ, Santarelli DMF, Carroll AP, Beveridge NJ, Hollins SL, Goldie BJ, Gardiner EJ, 'miRNA: There importance for brain function and neuropsychiatry', Abstract Book. Biological Psychiatry Australia Scientific Meeting, Parkville, Vic (2012) [E3]
Co-authors Murray Cairns
2012 Hollins SL, Goldie BJ, Carroll AP, Mason EA, Cairns MJ, Eyles D, 'Dynamic changes in microRNA expression during mammalian brain development coincides with forebrain maturation', Abstract Book. Biological Psychiatry Australia Scientific Meeting, Parkville, Vic (2012) [E3]
Co-authors Murray Cairns
2011 Milward AE, Hollins SL, Graham R, Trinder D, Van Balen M, Olynyk J, et al., 'Iron and the biogenesis of melanin and melanosomes in the retina', Program Book: Fourth Congress of the International BioIron Society (IBIS), Vancouver, Canada (2011) [E3]
Co-authors Liz Milward, Murray Cairns
2011 Hollins SL, Mason EA, Cairns MJ, Eyles D, 'Genome-wide analysis of microRNA and gene expression in the developing rat brain', The Proceedings of the First Scientific Meeting of Biological Psychiatry Australia, Melbourne, VIC (2011) [E3]
Co-authors Murray Cairns
2009 Hollins SL, Johnstone DM, Graham R, Van Helden DF, Kerr KP, Laver DR, et al., 'Cardiac gene expression in mouse models of iron loading disorders', 2009 International Biolron Society Meeting: Program Book, Porto, Portugal (2009) [E3]
Co-authors Karen Kerr, Rodney Scott, Derek Laver, Liz Milward, Dirk Vanhelden
2009 Hollins SL, Johnstone DM, Van Helden DF, Kerr KP, Laver DR, Metelerkamp KM, et al., 'Cardiac gene expression in mouse models of iron loading', ASMR XVII NSW Scientific Meeting: Programme and Abstracts, Sydney, NSW (2009) [E3]
Co-authors Rodney Scott, Karen Kerr, Liz Milward, Derek Laver, Dirk Vanhelden
Show 8 more conferences
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 8
Total funding $29,669

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20191 grants / $3,518

Basic lab equipment in the Laboratory of Neuroimmunology$3,518

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Funding body Hunter Medical Research Institute
Project Team Doctor Sharon Hollins
Scheme Early and Mid-Career Equipment Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
GNo G1900112
Type Of Funding C3120 - Aust Philanthropy
Category 3120
UON Y

20186 grants / $21,721

Immune infiltration of the Gut-Brain-Axis following neonatal inflammation $7,990

Funding body: Faculty of Science and IT, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Science and IT, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Sharon Hollins, Dr Melissa Tadros, Prof Deborah Hodgson, Prof Robert Callister

Scheme Faculty of Science Strategic Investment Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

Equipment funding for the Laboratory of Neuroimmunology$4,936

Funding body: Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research

Funding body Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research
Project Team

Dr Sharon Hollins

Scheme CBMHR Infrastructure Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

ECR pilot projects in the area of GI health and disease$4,795

Funding body: The Priority Research Centre for Digestive Health & Neurogastroenterology, The University of Newcastle

Funding body The Priority Research Centre for Digestive Health & Neurogastroenterology, The University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Sharon Hollins, Prof Deborah Hodgson

Scheme Pilot Grant Funding
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

Faculty PVC Conference Assistance Grant$1,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle, Faculty of Science & IT

Funding body University of Newcastle, Faculty of Science & IT
Project Team

Dr Sharon Hollins

Scheme PVC Conference Assistance Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

PRC for Brain and Mental Health Research Conference Assistance Grant $1,500

Funding body: Faculty of Science and IT

Funding body Faculty of Science and IT
Project Team

Dr Sharon Hollins

Scheme Conference Assistance Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

PRC for Brain and Mental Health Research Publication Support Round $1,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Centre for Brain & Mental Health Research

Funding body University of Newcastle - Centre for Brain & Mental Health Research
Project Team

Dr Sharon Hollins

Scheme PRC for Brain and Mental Health Research Publication Support Round
Role Lead
Funding Start 2018
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20171 grants / $4,430

Equipment for the Laboratory of Neuroimmunology$4,430

Funding body: Faculty of Science and IT, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Science and IT, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Sharon Hollins

Scheme PRC for Translational Neuroscience & Mental Health Equipment Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed2
Current3

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2019 Honours The Gastrointestinal Kynurenine Pathway In a Rodent Model of Anxiety Psychology, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science & IT, University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2019 Honours Inflammation and Gastrointestinal Integrity Following Neonatal Infection Psychology, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science & IT, University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2018 PhD The Impact of Perinatal Immune Challenge and Adolescent Stress on Gastrointesinal Inflammation and Integrity and the Relationship with Anxiety PhD (Psychology - Science), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2018 Honours Neural, immune and gastrointestinal responses in a two-hit model of anxiety
Winner of the JA Keats prize awarded annually to the student with the best performance in a Psychology Honours Thesis on the topic of Quantitative Psychology or Cognitive Psychology. Placed on the 2018 Faculty Commendation List which recognises outstanding achievements of students undertaking an undergraduate program.
Psychology, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science & IT, University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2017 Honours The Effects of Maternal Immune Activation on Autism-Related Behaviour and Gastrointestinal Integrity in Rodents Biological Sciences, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
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Research Projects

The role of the gut-brain axis in neuropsychopathology 2017 -


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Dr Sharon Hollins

Positions

Postdoctoral Fellow
Neuroimmunology
School of Psychology
Faculty of Science

Casual Lecturer
Neuroimmunology
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Casual Academic
Neuroimmunology
School of Psychology
Faculty of Science

Casual Academic
Neuroimmunology
School of Psychology
Faculty of Science

Focus area

Biological Sciences

Contact Details

Email sharon.hollins@newcastle.edu.au
Phone 4921 6856
Mobile 0419 473 832
Links Research Networks
Research Networks
Twitter
Research Networks
Research Networks

Office

Room SR-265
Building Social Science
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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