Research Interests: Nutritional and metabolic regulation of stress system responsiveness and impact on prevention and management of chronic disease.
The overarching objective of our research is to understand the nutritional and metabolic underpinnings of stress responsiveness, emotional dysregulation, and mental health. A central aim of the research program is to identify nutritional and metabolic interactions or signatures that help explain individual variation in resilience or vulnerability to stress and, therefore, stress-related diseases. Our underlying hypothesis is that differences in nutrition and metabolism explain, at least in part, variability in stress responsiveness and the link between stress vulnerability and disease risk. Part of our work aims to expose mechanisms that explain coexistence of metabolic (e.g., diabetes) and psychiatric conditions such as depression. Our lab applies functional brain imaging, metabolomics, neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous system evaluation, cognitive function assessment, and qualitative methods to clinical research studies and interventions. Our previous work exposed a novel metabolic-brain model, around which much of our research and view of behavioral health is centered. Our vision is to expose and test through hypothesis-driven research and clinical trials novel access points for guiding personalized and conventional practitioners on nutrition-based options as part of a plan to reduce chronic stress and its detrimental effects on mental and physical health.