Pyter_LeahAssistant Professor, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Assistant Professor, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research

College of Medicine
Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health

460 Medical Center Dr.
Columbus, OH 43210

Research Lab: Pyter Laboratory for Behavioral Neuroimmunology of Cancer

Research Lab Goals: To improve the mental and bodily health of cancer patients and cancer survivors. To understanding the basic mechanisms underlying disease-induced changes in inflammatory processes in the brain and periphery. Specifically, I use rodent models of cancer to study the immune-mediated effects of cancer on behavior and tissue repair.

Research/Clinical Interests: Cancer behavioral comorbidities, rhythms, endocrinology, microbiome

Research Techniques: Small animal surgery, protein and mRNA quantification, immunohistochemistry, behavioral tests

Current Research Projects:
Cancer, Neuroinflammation and Behavior: Depression and cognitive impairments are more prevelant in cancer patients than the general population. This is likely due to a combination of the disease process, cancer treatments, and the stress of dealing with a life-threatening disease.  This project focuses on the neuroinflammatory mechanisms by which peripheral tumors alter brain function (depressive-like and cognitive behaviors) in a mouse model of breast cancer.

Cancer and Wound Healing: All cancer patients require tissue repair as part of their treatment process (e.g., surgery, chemotherapy, radiation). However, cancer patients are generally immunocompromised. For this side of our research, we are examining how oral cancer influences treatment-relevant inflammatory processes (e.g., wound healing) in the skin and muscosa of a mouse model.

PubMed articles

MS: Biology University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
PhD: Neuroscience The Ohio State University

Postgraduate Education/Training:
Visiting Research Assistant Professor working with Drs. Phillip Marucha, Christopher Engeland and Luisa DiPietro, Center for Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration, University of Illinois at Chicago
Postdoctoral Fellow to Drs. Brian Prendergast and Martha McClintock, Institute for Mind and Biology, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago


  • Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society
  • Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
  • American Psychosomatic Society
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Ohio State Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Group
  • OSU Cancer Comprehensive Cancer Center – Cancer Control Program

2015 Early Career Reviewer at the Center for Scientific Review, NIH
2014 American Psychosomatic Society Young Investigator Colloquium Scholar ($500)
2013 American Psychosomatic Society Young Investigator Colloquium Honorable Mention
2012 University of Illinois at Chicago Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Associate Representative 

Press Coverage:
ScienceNOW: Tumors trigger cancer blues
Science Daily: Biological link established between tumors and depression
U.S. News and World Report: Study links cancerous tumors with depression
The Scientist: Tumors spur depression
ABC News: Study examines sunlight, Seasonal blahs
Science Daily: Seasonal depression, Anxiety affects hamsters.
Newswise: Brain learning memory melatonin seasonal affective disorder., World: Brains of one species of mouse actually shrink during the winter.
Science Daily: Mice brains shrink during winter, impairing some learning and memory.

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