Distinguished University Professor
Brumbaugh Chair in Brain Research and Teaching
Director, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
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
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
Diverse methodologies including randomized controlled trials, longitudinal observational studies and elaborate laboratory paradigms
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.
National Cancer Institute/NIH
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.
Current Staff Members
Cathie Atkinson, PhD
Michael Di Gregorio, MS, CCRP
Rebecca Andridge, PhD
Martha Belury, Ph
Maryam Lustberg, MD
William Malarkey, MD
John Sheridan, PhD
PhD: University of Miami
Fellowship: University of Rochester School of Medicine
- Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2015 - present
- Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, 2011 - present
- Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 1986 - 2006 and 2008 - 2014
- Health Psychology, 1989 - 1992
- Psychosomatic Medicine, 1990 - present
- Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 1992 - 1995
- Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1992 - 1995
- Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, 1993 - 1998
- Psychophysiology, 1994 - 1995
- Women's Health: Research on Gender Behaviors and Policy, 1994 - 1998
- Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 1994 - 2004
- British Journal of Health Psychology, 1996 - 1999
- Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, elected member, 2001 - present
- Advisory Council, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2013 - 2017
- National Research Council of the National Academies, Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, 2014 - 2016
- Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2002 - present
Honors and News
- Phi Beta Kappa, 1972
- Graduate Fellowship, 1972
- B.A. with Highest Honors, 1972
- New Investigator Award. Society of Behavioral Medicine, 1984
- Fellow. Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research,1985
- Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology, Division of Health Psychology, 1988
- Fellow, 1988
- First Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scientific/Academic Psychology, Department of Psychology, 1990
- NIMH Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award, PI, 1992 - 2002
- Distinguished Scholar Award. Office of Research, 1993
- Research Career Development Award (K02), 1997 - 2002
- Developmental Health Psychology Award. Divisions of Health Psychology and Adult Development and Aging, 1999
- President. Division of Health Psychology, 1999 - 2000
- Elected Member. Institute of Medicine, 2001
- Election as a Fellow, 2002
- AAAS Fellow, 2002
- Listed in the Institute for Scientific Information ISIHighlyCited.Com. Institute for Scientific Information ISIHighlyCited.com, 2002
- Master Lecture. American Psychological Association, Toronto, 2003
- S. Robert Davis Chair of Medicine, 2004
- Patricia R. Barchas Award (For outstanding contributions to the study of the impact of social behavior on physiology). American Psychosomatic Society, 2005
- Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology. Division of Health Psychology, 2007
- Distinguished University Professor, 2008
- NCI Established Investigator Award in Cancer Prevention and Control (K05), 2013 - 2018
- Appointed a member of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, National Research Council of the National Academies, 2014 - 2019
- AAAS-Dana Foundation: Invited speaker on stress, public event, Washington D.C., 2014
- George Solomon Award, Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society, 2017
- American Psychosomatic Society 75th Anniversary Award for research on emotions and social processes, 2017