About our research program

As part of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, directed by Lisa Christian, PhD, the Stress, Behavioral Immunology, and Health Disparities Lab examines how exposures to chronic stress, mood disorders, anxiety, and sleep disturbance interact in a bi-directional manner with the immune and neuroendocrine system to affect physical and mental health. Our studies use psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) research approaches to examine how stress “gets under the skin” among individuals caregiving for a spouse with dementia, people coping with cancer, pregnant women, as well as people exposed to chronic stress or discrimination related to race/ethnicity, sexual minority status, or financial strain. An ultimate goal of these studies is to address health disparities and inform behavioral interventions by identifying key pathways by which stress affects health.

Our Team


Lisa Christian, PhD

Principal Investigator

Lisa Christian is an associate professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health and a member of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research where she has been a faculty member since 2008. She received her PhD in clinical health psychology from The Ohio State University after completing internship at the University of Florida Health Science Center. Dr. Christian’s research has been funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). Her clinical work focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, particularly in women. In addition to these roles, she serves as the Medical Student Advocate within the College of Medicine, helping to advance a positive learning environment. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, vegetarian cooking, reading, and spending time with her two children and two Bernedoodles.

Academic Profile  

Michael Di Gregorio, M.S., CCRP 

Michael Di Gregorio, MS, CCRP

Michael is a clinical research manager, serves as the lab manager, and has been with the lab since the end of 2000. He earned his Bachelor of Science from Santa Clara University in Northern California with a double major in Psychology and Mathematics. He continued on at Nova Southeastern University in South Florida where he earned a Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology with emphases in neuropsychology. He has taken additional classes in Chinese medicine, yoga and massage therapy. He enjoys working on studies that investigate how different stressors, from cancer diagnoses to caregiver stress to challenging marital relationships, influence the psychological and physiological health of those affected. Outside the lab, Michael enjoys drumming, yoga, soccer and live music. 

Marisa Anthony, B.S. 

Marisa Anthony, BS

Marisa is a Clinical Research Assistant and the CARE Study Coordinator in the lab. She graduated from the University of Dayton in May of 2021 with a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences and Behavioral Health. She enjoys focusing on the psychological and behavioral studies of people. She is interested in learning how various life stressors can affect an individual's physiological state over time and how those responses are reflected in their psychological and behavioral health. Outside of the lab, Marisa enjoys traveling and exploring new places, spending time outdoors and being with family and friends. 

Mackenna Bay 

Mackenna Bay, BS

Mackenna is a Clinical Research Assistant working on the CARE study in the lab. She graduated from Miami University of Ohio in May of 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Nutrition, where she also completed her thematic sequence in Gerontology. She is working towards applying to Graduate schools with the plan of becoming a Physician Assistant. She has specific interests in the interrelatedness of mental and gastroenterological health, and how those aspects are linked to the holistic well-being of an individual. Outside of the lab, Mackenna enjoys spending time with her dogs, friends, and family, being involved in social sports leagues, exploring the outdoors, and traveling to new places. 

Annelise Madison, M.A. 

Annelise Madison, MA

Annelise Madison is a PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology (Health Track). Originally from Nebraska, she received a Bachelor of Arts from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. She is interested in the physiological correlates of stress and depression, including inflammation, vaccine responses, acute stress reactivity, and the gut-brain axis. In her free time, Annelise enjoys traveling, yoga, running, spending time in nature, and writing. She will be completing her pre-doctoral clinical internship at the Boston VA during the 2023-2024 academic year. 


Nithya Kasibhatla, BS, BA

Nithya is a graduate student in the Applied Neuroscience program at Ohio State University. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2022 with a BS in Neuroscience and a BA in English Writing, where she developed an interest in studying the effects of early life stress on stress-responsive neural circuitry and mental and cardiovascular health outcomes. As a member of the Stress and Health lab, she is specifically interested in understanding how caregiving stress impacts neural circuits, as well as the effects of sleep on cognition in pregnant women. In her free time, Nithya enjoys practicing and performing Indian classical dance, fiction writing, and traveling with family and friends. 

Tessa Belvins 

Tessa Blevins, MS

Tessa Blevins is a PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology (Health Track). She graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and began her PhD at OSU in fall of 2019. She is interested in the effects of psychological and physical health, specifically depression, stress, and inflammation, on intervenable cancer and pregnancy outcomes. In her free time, Tessa enjoys running, spending time with her dog Iroh, hanging out with friends and family, and trying out all the restaurants Columbus offers. 

Megan Martin 

Megan Martin

Megan is a third year undergraduate student studying neuroscience. She is interested in how different stressors affect an individual's mental state. On campus she is involved in numerous student organizations including Block O and Delta Zeta. Being from Texas, Megan enjoys the outdoors, live music and sports, and spending time with friends and family. 

Julia Frey 

Julia Frey

Julia is a Student Research Assistant in the lab. She is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience. She is interested in the interaction between immunity and psychology and in the future, plans to become a physician. In her free time, Julia enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. 

Anthony Kantaras 

Anthony Kantaras

Anthony Kantaras is an Undergraduate Research Assistant who has been working with the Stress and Health Lab since January 2021. He is currently attending The Ohio State University and working towards a BS in Molecular Neuroscience on a Pre-Med track, expected to graduate in Spring 2024. Starting in May of 2022, Anthony has been working in the lab as a Pelotonia Undergraduate Fellow researching the psychosocial determinants of recovery in post-hematopoietic stem cell transplant Multiple Myeloma patients as part of the CHAMP study. He is interested in the bi-directionality of the brain and the immune system, specifically how psychosocial factors in both patients and caregivers influence treatment-related decision-making and clinical outcomes. Outside of the lab, he enjoys listening to music, running, exploring nature, and spending time with friends! 

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Elli Williams

Elli is an Undergraduate Research Assistant who has been working with the Stress and Health Lab since September 2022. She is currently attending The Ohio State University and working towards a BS in Biology on the Pre-Medical track, expected to graduate in Spring 2024. Outside the lab, she enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Juanita Acquah 

Juanita Acquah

Juanita is a student research assistant at the Stress and Health Lab. She is currently attending The Ohio State University pursuing a BS in Medical Anthropology with a minor in Integrative Approaches to Health and Wellness. She is expected to graduate spring of 2024. She is interested in public health, specifically culture centered health practices and wellness promotion among disadvantaged communities. In the future, she hopes to become a well-versed physician. Outside of school, Juanita enjoys traveling, playing her violin, and spending time with friend and family. 


Nora Schenk

Nora is a Student Research Assistant in the lab. She is a first-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in Microbiology with a concentration in Pre-Dentistry and a minor in business. She has a passion for transformative dental care for patients and plans to become an oral surgeon one day. She is fascinated by the brain and loves to learn more about the outside factors that may affect our behavior and health. In her free time, Nora enjoys attending bible studies with friends, spending time with family, shadowing dental professionals, and eating lots of ice cream.

More about the Stress, Behavioral Immunology and Health Disparities Lab

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