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Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development

Michael Shanahan

Michael Shanahan, Prof. Dr.

  • Professor of Sociology
  • Director‚ Department of Sociology
  • Member of the Governing Board
  • Former Jacobs Center Director (2015-2021)
Room number
AND 4.26


  • Life Course Sociology (Theory and Methods)
  • Integration of Life Course and Molecular Genetics
  • Life Course Models of Health

Current projects

Genetic Transcription, Society, and the Life Course

Findings from biological and health psychology show that early social experiences may create susceptibilities for inflammatory- and immune-related diseases later in life. I am interested in whether gene expression mediates these relationships with a particular focus on gene transcription. To date, I have published several review essays on how life course models are implicated in these findings. Dr. Kathleen Mullan Harris, director of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health (Add Health), and I received funding to collect gene transcription data as part of Add Health Wave V. Our Social Genomics Lab at UZH has developed appropriate infrastructure for the study of transcription data in collaboration with Drs. Steve Cole (UCLA) and Brandt Levitt (UNC-Chapel Hill).  Our collected data are being studied with respect to social experiences and the regulation of the genome.

Selected Publications

  • Julien Bodelet, Cecilia Potente, Guillaume Blanc, Justin Chumbley, Hira Imeri, Scott Hofer, Kathleen Harris, Graciela Muniz Terrera, Michael Shanahan. (2024). A Bayesian functional approach to test models of life course epidemiology over continuous time. International Journal of Epidemiology 53(1).
  • Sudharshan Ravi, Michael J. Shanahan, Brandt Levitt, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Steven W. Cole. (2024). Socioeconomic inequalities in early adulthood disrupt the immune transcriptomic landscape via upstream regulators. Scientific Reports 14(1) 1255 et seq.
  • Zuber S, Bechtiger L, Bodelet JS, Golin M, Heumann J, Kim JH, Klee M, Mur J, Noll J, Voll S, O'Keefe P, Steinhoff A, Zölitz U, Muniz-Terrera G, Shanahan L, Shanahan MJ, Hofer SM. (2023). An integrative approach for the analysis of risk and health across the life course: challenges, innovations, and opportunities. Discover Social Science & Health 3(1):14.
  • Potente, C., Chumbley, J., Xu, W., Levitt, B., Cole, S. W., Ravi, S., Bodelet, J.S., Gaydosh, L. Harris, K. M., Shanahan, M. J. (2023). Socioeconomic inequalities characterize molecular risk for aging in young adulthood. American Journal of Epidemiology. 192(12): 1981-1990.
  • Macmillan, R., M. J. Shanahan. (2022). Explaining the occupational structure of depressive symptoms: precarious work and social marginality across European countries. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 63(3): 446-469.
  • Shanahan, M.J., Cole, S.W., Ravi, S., Harris, K.M. (2022). Socioeconomic inequalities in molecular risk for chronic diseases observed in young adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 119(43).
  • Potente, C., Harris, K. M., Chumbley, J., Cole, S. W., Gaydosh, L., Xu, W., Levitt, B. M. J. Shanahan. (2021). The early life course of body weight and gene expression signatures for disease. American Journal of Epidemiology. 190(8): 1533-1540.
  • Chumbley, J., Xu, W., Potente, C., Harris, K. M., M. J. Shanahan. (2021). A Bayesian approach to comparing common life course epidemiology models. International Journal of Epidemiology 50(5): 1660-1670.
  • Cole, S. W., Shanahan, M. J., Gaydosh, L., K. M. Harris. (2020). Population-based RNA profiling in Add Health finds disparities in inflammatory and antiviral gene regulation to emerge in young adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 117(9): 4601-4608.

Weiterführende Informationen

Research Team

External Profiles