Distinguished University Professor
Brumbaugh Chair in Brain Research and Teaching
Director, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Professor, Psychiatry
Professor, Psychology
Professor, College of Public Health, Health Behavior & Health Promotion

College of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Wexner Medical Center

460 Medical Center Drive
Columbus, OH 43210

Research Lab: Stress and Health Research Program

Research Goals: Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser’s research program focuses on the ways that stress and depression alter the immune and endocrine systems, metabolism and the gut microbiome.

Research Interests:
  • Psychoneuroimmunology (behavioral immunology)
  • Close relationships, inflammation, and health
  • Stress and inflammation in cancer survivors
  • Behavioral influences on metabolism following high-fat meals
  • Gut microbiome and stress

Research Techniques: Diverse methodologies including randomized controlled trials, longitudinal observational studies and elaborate laboratory paradigms

Current Research: One segment of her current research focuses on the ways in which stress and depression alter metabolic responses to meals. An initial study showed that women who had experienced more recent stressors burned fewer calories after a fast-food type meal, and also had both lower fat oxidation and higher insulin compared to women with fewer stressors. Burning fewer calories leads to weight gain. Furthermore, people with lower fat oxidation are more likely to gain weight by storing fat than those with higher fat oxidation, and thus their risk for obesity is increased. Higher levels of insulin foster fat storage. These adverse changes would all promote obesity.

Additionally, this study also showed that depression substantially augments triglyceride responses to high saturated fat meals in ways that promote heart disease. Depression has well-established effects on heart disease morbidity and mortality, and these meal-related changes highlighted a previously unrecognized depression-sensitive pathway.

During stressful times many people turn to calorie-dense high-fat “comfort” food. While the influence of stress and depression on food choice is well-established, these novel data suggest that stress and depression also affect metabolic responses to these meals. A longitudinal study in her lab is now addressing how these metabolic responses impact coronary artery calcification and weight change in breast cancer survivors.

Another segment of her current research focuses on how physical fitness affects inflammation, a robust and reliable predictor of all-cause mortality in older adults. Chronic inflammation signals a heightened risk for disability and mortality even in the absence of clinical disease. Although inflammation rises with age, active individuals have lower levels of inflammation than those who are more sedentary. Indeed, when fitness is assessed objectively by maximal exercise testing, poorer physical fitness is clearly associated with higher inflammation.

An immune challenge provides a useful paradigm for studying an individual's ability to limit the daily inflammatory responses that occur in response to infection or tissue injury. For this reason, another of her studies uses a typhoid vaccine as a peripheral immune stimulus to assess the magnitude and kinetics of a transient inflammatory response and associated behavioral changes that are associated with heightened inflammation -- depressive symptoms, fatigue, cognitive problems, and increased pain sensitivity. She and her colleagues address a novel question: does poorer physical fitness heighten the magnitude and duration of inflammatory responses to immune challenges, as well as magnifying maladaptive behavioral responses?

This study will improve our understanding of how physical fitness influences inflammation, as well as adverse inflammation-associated behavioral changes including negative mood, fatigue, increased pain sensitivity and cognitive deficits. This project will provide insight into the pathways through which regular exercise produces its substantial health benefits.

Her newest study is part of her marital research program, examining how couples’ relationships are related to their gut microbiome. This research is made possible by uBiome, which has provided kits for analysis of the gut microbiome.

Active Funding: National Cancer Institute/NIH

Selected Publications:
Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Fagundes CP, Andridge R, Peng J, Malarkey WB, Habash D, Belury MA (2017). Depression, daily stressors, and inflammatory responses to high-fat meals: When stress overrides healthier food choices, Molecular Psychiatry, 22:476-482.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Wilson, Stephanie J (2017).  Lovesick: Couples’ relationships and health. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 13:421-443.

Alfano CM, Peng J, Andridge RR, Lindgren ME, Povoski SP, Lipari AM, Agnese DM, Farrar WB, Yee LD, Carson WE, Kiecolt-Glaser JK (2017). Inflammatory cytokines and comorbidity development in breast cancer survivors vs. non-cancer controls: Evidence for accelerated aging? Journal of Clinical Oncology, 35:149-156.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Derry HM, Fagundes CP (2015). Inflammation: Depression fans the flames and feasts on the heat. American Journal of Psychiatry 172:1075-1091.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Habash D, Fagundes CP, Andridge R, Peng J, Malarkey WB, Belury MA (2015). Daily stressors, past depression, and metabolic responses to high-fat meals: A novel path to obesity.  Biological Psychiatry, 77: 653–660.PMCID: PMC4289126.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK Jaremka  LJ, Andridge R, Peng J, Habash D., Fagundes CP, Glaser R, Malarkey WB,  Belury MA (2015).  Marital discord, past depression, and metabolic responses to high-fat meals: Interpersonal pathways to obesity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 52: 239-250.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Bennett JM, Andridge RR, Peng J, Shapiro CL, Malarkey WB,  Emery CF, Layman R, Mrozek EE, Glaser R. (2014). Yoga’s impact on inflammation, mood, and fatigue in breast cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 32(10) 1040-1047. PMCID: PMC3965259.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Loving TJ, Stowell JR, Malarkey WB, Lemeshow S, Dickinson SL, Glaser R (2005). Hostile marital interactions, proinflammatory cytokine production, and wound healing. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62:1377-1384.

Glaser R, Kiecolt-Glaser JK (2005). Stress-induced immune dysfunction: Implications for health. Nature Reviews Immunology 5:243-251.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Preacher KJ, MacCallum RC, Atkinson C, Malarkey WB, Glaser R (2003). Chronic stress and age-related increases in the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 100:9090-9095. PMCID: PMC166443.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Newton TL (2001). Marriage and health: His and hers. Psychological Bulletin 127:472-503.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Page GG, Marucha PT, MacCallum RC, Glaser R (1998). Psychological influences on surgical recovery: Perspectives from psychoneuroimmunology. American Psychologist, 53, 1209-1218.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Marucha PT, Malarkey W B, Mercado, AM, Glaser R (1995).  Slowing of wound healing by psychological stress. Lancet, 346, 1194-1196.

PubMed articles

Current Staff Members:
Cathie Atkinson, PhD
Angelina Caradonna
Leah Chipps
Andrea Decker
Michael Di Gregorio, MS, CCRP
Samantha Donermeyer

Graduate students:
Annelise Madison
Avelina Padin

Rebecca Andridge, PhD
Martha Belury, Ph
Maryam Lustberg, MD
William Malarkey, MD
John Sheridan, PhD

PhD: University of Miami

Postgraduate Education/Training: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Rochester School of Medicine 

Editorial Activities:
2015 - present  Psychoneuroendocrinology 
2011 - present Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research
1986 - 2006, 2008 - 2014 Brain, Behavior, and Immunity
1989 - 1992 Health Psychology
1990 - present Psychosomatic Medicine
1992 - 1995 Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences
1992 - 1995 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
1993 - 1998 Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research
1994 - 1995 Psychophysiology
1994 - 1998 Women's Health: Research on Gender Behaviors and Policy
1994 - 2004 Journal of Behavioral Medicine
1996 - 1999 British Journal of Health Psychology

2001 - present Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, elected member
2013 - 2017 Advisory Council, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
2014 - 2016 National Research Council of the National Academies, Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences
2002 - present  Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

1972 Phi Beta Kappa
1972 Graduate Fellowship
1972 B.A. with Highest Honors
1984 New Investigator Award. Society of Behavioral Medicine
1985 Fellow. Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research
1988 Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology, Division of Health Psychology
1988 Fellow
1990 First Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scientific/Academic Psychology, Department of Psychology
1992 - 2002 NIMH Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award, PI
1993 Distinguished Scholar Award. Office of Research
1997 - 2002 Research Career Development Award (K02)
1999 Developmental Health Psychology Award. Divisions of Health Psychology and Adult Development and Aging
1999 - 2000 President. Division of Health Psychology
2001 Elected Member. Institute of Medicine
2002 Election as a Fellow
2002 AAAS Fellow
2002 Listed in the Institute for Scientific Information ISIHighlyCited.Com. Institute for Scientific Information ISIHighlyCited.com
2003 Master Lecture. American Psychological Association, Toronto
2004 S. Robert Davis Chair of Medicine
2005 Patricia R. Barchas Award (For outstanding contributions to the study of the impact of social behavior on physiology). American Psychosomatic Society
2007 Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology. Division of Health Psychology
2008 Distinguished University Professor
2013 - 2018 NCI Established Investigator Award in Cancer Prevention and Control (K05)
2014 - 2019 Appointed a member of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, National Research Council of the National Academies 
2014 AAAS-Dana Foundation: Invited speaker on stress, public event, Washington D.C. 
2017 George Solomon Award, Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society
2017 American Psychosomatic Society 75th Anniversary Award for research on emotions and social processes



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