Associate Professor Nicholas Osborne

Associate Professor

School of Public Health
Faculty of Medicine
n.osborne@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 55178
0431854846

Overview

Dr Osborne, BSc(Hons), MAgSc, PhD is an epidemiologist and toxicologist with research interests in using environmental epidemiology to examine aetiology and pathological pathways of disease. He has worked on a range of projects examining environmental exposures and health outcomes including exposure to metals, pollen, mould, chronic exposures to low levels of chemicals, pesticide and cyanotoxins. He also has experience examining how exposure to environmental may increase health and wellbeing (green/bluespace and solar irradiance and vitamin D).

He has developed skills in the linkage of environmental and population health data in an interdisciplinary context, and has expertise in design, linkage, hypothesis formulation, analysis, interpretation, translation and dissemination.

He has experience in designing and collecting epidemiological data and initiating studies of primary collected data (HealthIron, HealthNuts, Cornwall Housing Study, Survey of Recreational Water Users, Monitoring of Meniere’s Symptoms).

He also has used secondary data from existing cohorts (NHANES, UK Biobank, 1958 Birth Cohort, British Household Survey, Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration), as well as linkage of previously unconnected “big data” sets in mashups on novel platforms (MEDMI project). He has used traditional statistical methods such as linear/logistic regression, time series analysis, interrupted time series and Cox regression to ascertain associations between exposures and outcomes, as well as integrating confirmatory structured equation modelling with environmental/health data sets to construct conceptual diagrams of associations and assess pathway directions.

He currently researches pollen and health outcomes as well as chronic kidney disease in low to middle income countries.

He has supervised 6 PhD students to completion (2 primary supervisor, 4 co-supervisor) and currently supervises 4 PhD student. He has been associate editor of Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health since 2011 and is on the editorial board of International Journal of Epidemiology, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Pulmonology. He is a member of Australasian Epidemiology Association, International Society of Environmental Epidemiology and International Epidemiology Association.

He has previously worked at the Universities of NSW, Sydney, Exeter, Melbourne, Portsmouth, Queensland and Flinders, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Cancer Council Victoria. He completed his PhD at the School of Population Health, University of Queensland/National Research Centre of Environmental Toxicology working on the toxicology and public health effects of cyanobacterial toxins in southeast Queensland.

Research Interests

  • Pollen and health
    Using eDNA to examine grass pollen and its relationship to health outcomes
  • Uncertain Chronic Kidney Disease
    Researching chronic kideny disease of unknown origin in Sri Lanka by examining a range of pathological pathways and environmental risk factors

Research Impacts

My research has been cited in numerous govt reports: Finding a Path to Safety in Food Allergy: Assessment of the Global Burden, Causes, Prevention, Management, and Public Policy (2017) National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee on Food Allergies: Global Burden, Causes, Treatment, Prevention, and Public Policy; Virginia A. Stallings and Maria P. Oria, Editors

Risk factors for food allergy Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Spor

GreenWater Laboratories Potentially Toxigenic (PTOX) Cyanobacteria List

Microbiomes of the Built Environment: A Research Agenda for Indoor Microbiology, Human Health, and Buildings (2017)

Guidelines on urban and peri-urban forestry - FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome, 2016

Promoting healthy and energy efficient buildings in the European Union - EU Law and Publications Cited by The Publications Office of the European Union on 11 Jan 2017 The Publications Office of the European Union (Publications Office), based in Luxembourg, is an interinstitutional office whose task is to publish the publications of the institutions of the European Union.

Future of the Sea: Health and Wellbeing of Coastal Communities Cited by UK Government (GOV.UK) on 22 Aug 2017 Government Office for Science

Why the United States Needs a National Birth Cohort Study - National Academy of Medicine NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. doi: 10.31478/201605g

The first thousand days: an evidence paper Moore, T.G., Arefadib, N., Deery, A., & West, S. (2017). The First Thousand Days: An Evidence Paper. Parkville, Victoria; Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

The longitudinal study of Australian children: annual statistical report 2012 19 Jun 2013 Australian Institute of Family Studies

Anaphylaxis: assessment and referral after emergency treatment: Anaphylaxis: full guideline appendix G Cited by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on 14 Dec 2011 The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.

Human health and climate change in Pacific Island countries Cited by World Health Organization on 01 Jan 2015 The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.

Opinion on BPA Cited by European Food Safety Authority on 21 Jan 2015 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is an independent European agency which provides scientific advice on existing and emerging risks, as part of European Union (EU) risk assessments regarding food and feed safety.

Outcome of the public consultations: Scientific Opinion on Bisphenol A Cited by European Food Safety Authority on 21 Jan 2015 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is an independent European agency which provides scientific advice on existing and emerging risks, as part of European Union (EU) risk assessments regarding food and feed safety.

Promoting healthy and energy efficient buildings in the European Union - EU Law and Publications Cited by The Publications Office of the European Union on 11 Jan 2017 The Publications Office of the European Union (Publications Office), based in Luxembourg, is an interinstitutional office whose task is to publish the publications of the institutions of the European Union.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Master of Agricultural Science, The University of Queensland

Publications

  • Brennan, Georgina L. , Potter, Caitlin , de Vere, Natasha , Griffith, Gareth W. , Skjøth, Carsten A. , Osborne, Nicholas J. , Wheeler, Benedict W. , McInnes, Rachel N. , Clewlow, Yolanda , Barber, Adam , Hanlon, Helen M. , Hegarty, Matthew , Jones, Laura , Kurganskiy, Alexander , Rowney, Francis M. , Armitage, Charlotte , Adams-Groom, Beverley , Ford, Col R. , Petch, Geoff M. , The PollerGEN Consortium and Creer, Simon (2019) Temperate airborne grass pollen defined by spatio-temporal shifts in community composition. Nature Ecology and Evolution, . doi:10.1038/s41559-019-0849-7

  • McInnes, Rachel N., Hernming, Deborah, Burgess, Peter, Lyndsay, Donna, Osborne, Nicholas J., Skjoth, Carsten Ambelas, Thomas, Sam and Vardoulakis, Sotiris (2017) Mapping allergenic pollen vegetation in UK to study environmental exposure and human health. Science of the Total Environment, 599-600 483-499. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.04.136

  • Osborne, Nicholas J., Alcock, Ian, Wheeler, Benedict W., Hajat, Shakoor, Sarran, Christophe, Clewlow, Yolanda, McInnes, Rachel N., Hemming, Deborah, White, Mathew, Vardoulakis, Sotiris and Fleming, Lora E. (2017) Pollen exposure and hospitalization due to asthma exacerbations: Daily time series in a European city. International Journal of Biometeorology, 61 10: 1837-1848. doi:10.1007/s00484-017-1369-2

  • Osborne, Nicholas J., Cairns, Rose, Dawson, Andrew H., Chitty, Kate M. and Buckley, Nicholas A. (2017) Epidemiology of coronial deaths from pesticide ingestion in Australia. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 220 2, Part B: 478-484. doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2017.01.009

  • Schmidt, Wiebke, Sarran, Christophe, Ronan, Natalie, Barrett, George, Whinney, David J., Fleming, Lora E., Osborne, Nicholas J. and Tyrrell, Jessica (2017) The Weather and Meniere's Disease: A Longitudinal Analysis in the UK. Otology & Neurotology, 38 2: 225-233. doi:10.1097/MAO.0000000000001270

  • Cherrie, M. P.C., Wheeler, B. W., White, M. P., Sarran, C. E. and Osborne, N. J. (2015) Coastal climate is associated with elevated solar irradiance and higher 25(OH)D level. Environment International, 77 76-84. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2015.01.005

  • Sharpe, Richard A., Bearman, Nick, Thornton, Christopher R., Husk, Kerryn and Osborne, Nicholas J. (2015) Indoor fungal diversity and asthma: a meta-analysis and systematic review of risk factors. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 135 1: 110-122. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.07.002

  • Tyrrell, Jessica, Melzer, David, Henley, William, Galloway, Tamara S. and Osborne, Nicholas J. (2013) Associations between socioeconomic status and environmental toxicant concentrations in adults in the USA: NHANES 2001-2010. Environment International, 59 328-335. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2013.06.017

  • Melzer, David, Osborne, Nicholas J., Henley, William E., Cipelli, Riccardo, Young, Anita, Money, Cathryn, McCormack, Paul, Luben, Robert, Khaw, Kay-Tee, Wareham, Nicholas J. and Galloway, Tamara S. (2012) Urinary bisphenol A concentration and risk of future coronary artery disease in apparently healthy men and women. Circulation, 125 12: 1482-1490. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.069153

  • Osborne, Nicholas J., Ukoumunne, Obioha C., Wake, Melissa and Allen, Katrina J. (2012) Prevalence of eczema and food allergy is associated with latitude in Australia. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 129 3: 865-867. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.01.037

  • Osborne, Nicholas J., Koplin, Jennifer J., Martin, Pamela E., Gurrin, Lyle C., Lowe, Adrian J., Matheson, Melanie C., Ponsonby, Anne-Louise, Wake, Melissa, Tang, Mimi L. K., Dharmage, Shyamali C. and Allen, Katrina J. (2011) Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 127 3: 668-676. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2011.01.039

  • Allen, Katrina J., Gurrin, Lyle C., Constantine, Clare C., Osborne, Nicholas J., Delatycki, Martin B., Nicoll, Amanda J., McLaren, Christine E., Bahlo, Melanie, Nisselle, Amy E., Vulpe, Chris D., Anderson, Gregory J., Southey, Melissa C., Giles, Graham G., English, Dallas R., Hopper, John L., Olynyk, John K., Powell, Lawrie W. and Gertig, Dorota M. (2008) Iron-overload-related disease in HFE hereditary hemochromatosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 358 3: 221-230. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa073286

  • Osborne, Nicholas J. T., Webb, Penny M. and Shaw, Glen R. (2001) The toxins of Lyngbya majuscula and their human and ecological health effects. Environment International, 27 5: 381-392. doi:10.1016/S0160-4120(01)00098-8

View all Publications

Available Projects

  • Prediction of environmental conditions (pollen, pollution and weather) that lead to patients being hospitalised with asthma is possible from the large amounts of data being collected on a daily basis. Deriving the mathematics to do this is underway but more work needs to be done, especially in the Australian context. Another factor hindering prediction is that grass pollen, known to be the major culprit globally for inducing asthma, is only counted as a single entity, although it consists of hundreds of species. Our research will enable grass pollen to be examined more closely in the future, enabling better predictions to enable asthma patients to better manage their disease.

    This research will result in greater knowledge to improve the care of and outcomes for asthma sufferers both in Australia and internationally, using existing big data. It results from a trans-disciplinary approach, including international research partners, that will increase learning in both clinical and non-clinical settings. In the short-term findings will be immediately translatable to clinicians and their patients while in the long-term data produced will enter the evidence base to influence upcoming policy decisions on air pollution and other modifiable risk factors of respiratory disease. The models prepared will have cross cutting application to a range of fields in epidemiology. The potential of environmental DNA to be of interest to industry is high as new monitoring technologies come on line as our understanding of how we interact with our environment increases. The advent of personalised/stratified medicine over the next decade will see demand by clinicians and patient for more information on respirable allergens and this research will initiate a move in that direction using novel DNA metabarcoding. It has potential to achieve funding from both medical, non-medical and industry sectors.

  • Understanding the environment and its dynamic nature in a time of climate change and urbanisation is vital to reduce disease burden of chronic diseases that are increasing prevalent in both high and low to middle income countries.

    We have been examining the relationship between levels of individual grass pollens at 16 sites across the UK with data collected over 3 years.

    Several questions remain to be answered in this research. Firstly, our initial studies have examined measures at 16 sites across the UK. Pollen measures from the sites have been subsequently modelled and we wish in this studentship to use this modelled individual taxa grass pollen data with health data from across the UK to give us a better understanding of the associations between pollen and health outcomes.

    This work has seen the development of a novel, mechanistic grass species' pollen model. This will enable better prediction via models (existing air quality models ERF-Chem and HYSPLIT). This environmental data will then be examined in the context of hospital episode statistics and GP prescription data. In addition to the modelled pollen data other biological, meteorological and demographic variables will be assessed. This knowledge will feed into predictions on how prevalence and incidence of allergy and asthma episodes may change with changing environmental and demographic conditions into the future.

    Our findings will be examined in the both the Australian and UK contexts. We have been interacting with the Bureau of Meteorology Australia to pursue these concepts with available Australian data.

    This has most recently been seen in their collaboration with the PollerGEN research project (£1.2M NERC grant 2016-9) “Using molecular genetics to understand grass species pollen deposition: enhancing bio-aerosol models and implications for human health”.

    This PhD will allow additional data obtained in the research program to be analysed and concepts and ideas examined in the Australian context (most allergenic taxa are common to both countries) with the ability to compare and contrast to the UK scenarios. The benefits of this work in allowing patients to better manage their chronic lifelong diseases of asthma and allergy has commercial potential as well as ongoing academic research funding.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Sharpe, Richard, Osborne, Nicholas, Vardoulakis, Sotiris and Dimitroulopoulou, Sani (2018). Indoor air pollution in developed countries. In Oxford research encyclopedia of environmental science () Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.34

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Prediction of environmental conditions (pollen, pollution and weather) that lead to patients being hospitalised with asthma is possible from the large amounts of data being collected on a daily basis. Deriving the mathematics to do this is underway but more work needs to be done, especially in the Australian context. Another factor hindering prediction is that grass pollen, known to be the major culprit globally for inducing asthma, is only counted as a single entity, although it consists of hundreds of species. Our research will enable grass pollen to be examined more closely in the future, enabling better predictions to enable asthma patients to better manage their disease.

    This research will result in greater knowledge to improve the care of and outcomes for asthma sufferers both in Australia and internationally, using existing big data. It results from a trans-disciplinary approach, including international research partners, that will increase learning in both clinical and non-clinical settings. In the short-term findings will be immediately translatable to clinicians and their patients while in the long-term data produced will enter the evidence base to influence upcoming policy decisions on air pollution and other modifiable risk factors of respiratory disease. The models prepared will have cross cutting application to a range of fields in epidemiology. The potential of environmental DNA to be of interest to industry is high as new monitoring technologies come on line as our understanding of how we interact with our environment increases. The advent of personalised/stratified medicine over the next decade will see demand by clinicians and patient for more information on respirable allergens and this research will initiate a move in that direction using novel DNA metabarcoding. It has potential to achieve funding from both medical, non-medical and industry sectors.

  • Understanding the environment and its dynamic nature in a time of climate change and urbanisation is vital to reduce disease burden of chronic diseases that are increasing prevalent in both high and low to middle income countries.

    We have been examining the relationship between levels of individual grass pollens at 16 sites across the UK with data collected over 3 years.

    Several questions remain to be answered in this research. Firstly, our initial studies have examined measures at 16 sites across the UK. Pollen measures from the sites have been subsequently modelled and we wish in this studentship to use this modelled individual taxa grass pollen data with health data from across the UK to give us a better understanding of the associations between pollen and health outcomes.

    This work has seen the development of a novel, mechanistic grass species' pollen model. This will enable better prediction via models (existing air quality models ERF-Chem and HYSPLIT). This environmental data will then be examined in the context of hospital episode statistics and GP prescription data. In addition to the modelled pollen data other biological, meteorological and demographic variables will be assessed. This knowledge will feed into predictions on how prevalence and incidence of allergy and asthma episodes may change with changing environmental and demographic conditions into the future.

    Our findings will be examined in the both the Australian and UK contexts. We have been interacting with the Bureau of Meteorology Australia to pursue these concepts with available Australian data.

    This has most recently been seen in their collaboration with the PollerGEN research project (£1.2M NERC grant 2016-9) “Using molecular genetics to understand grass species pollen deposition: enhancing bio-aerosol models and implications for human health”.

    This PhD will allow additional data obtained in the research program to be analysed and concepts and ideas examined in the Australian context (most allergenic taxa are common to both countries) with the ability to compare and contrast to the UK scenarios. The benefits of this work in allowing patients to better manage their chronic lifelong diseases of asthma and allergy has commercial potential as well as ongoing academic research funding.