Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Health
Member, The Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Medical Student Advocate, Office of Student Life
Courtesy Joint Faculty Appointment, College of Nursing
Courtesy Joint Faculty Appointment, Psychology
Courtesy Joint Faculty Appointment, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Wexner Medical Center
460 Medical Center Drive
Columbus, OH 43210
Dr. Christian is a clinical health psychologist and the principal investigator of the Stress, Behavioral Immunology, and Health Disparities Lab. As part of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, her research program examines how exposures to chronic stress, including discrimination due to racial and/or sexual minority status, affect physical health and mental well-being. Her studies use psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) research approaches to examine how stress “gets under the skin” to impact health by affecting the neuroendocrine and immune systems.
Our studies examine links between mental health, health behaviors, and biological indicators of health. To accomplish our studies, we collect questionnaire, interview, and testing data on psychosocial and cognitive functioning. We also collect self-report and objective measures of health behaviors including sleep, body composition and weight change, diet, smoking, and exercise. Finally, our studies typically include measures of neuroendocrine, immune, and cardiovascular functioning using blood, saliva, and fecal samples.
Current Research Projects
Dr. Christian’s projects include, but are not limited to, the studies described below. For more information, please see Dr. Christian’s lab website.
- Stress and Health in Pregnancy and Postpartum: SHIPP - This line of investigation examines perinatal health and well-being across pregnancy and one-year postpartum, including measures of psychological functioning (mood, anxiety, social support), health behaviors (diet, smoking, sleep), and physiology (biomarkers in the blood, cardiovascular functioning, body composition).
- The National Couples’ Health and Time Use Stress Biology Study: NCHAT-BIO – This study will examining biological health and relationship quality in a national sample of up to 4,300 individuals across the United States. NCHAT-BIO aims to delineate effects of both racial and sexual minority status on biomarkers of stress in the blood, and how positive relationships can buffer against chronic stress.
- The National Network of Depression Centers Women’s Mental Health Study. Dr. Christian is the site-PI for this national survey study which aims to improve understanding of stress and mood in women across the lifespan. This study will help increase knowledge about the range of women’s experiences of stress and how these are associated with mood and anxiety symptoms across different age groups and reproductive stages, such as pregnancy and menopause.
Dr. Christian has published more than 50 articles and book chapters on the topic of stress and the immune system.
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
- The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
- The Ohio State University Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI)
- The Ohio State University Foods for Health (FFH) Discovery Theme Seed Grant
- The Ohio Attorney General’s Office Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Grant
- The National Network of Depression Centers
- March of Dimes
- The Ohio State University Food Innovation Center (FIC)
- Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity
- The Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science
- OSU College of Medicine/Nationwide Children’s Hospital Collaborative Pilot Program
Education and Training
PhD: Clinical Health Psychology, The Ohio State University
Honors and Awards
- Fellow of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research (ABMR), 2019
- The FAME Committee Member of the Month,2019
- The 2017 FAME Career Development Award for Researchers,2017
- Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research (ABMR) Neal Miller Young Investigator Award,2016
- The Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS) Robert Ader New Investigator Award,2016
- Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research (ABMR) Research Fellow, 2011
In the News
Dr. Christian’s research has been featured in the news.