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W&L’s Ryan Brindle awarded grant for research into mental stress, physiological response

Ryan Brindle
Ryan Brindle. Photo courtesy Washington and Lee University.

Ryan Brindle, assistant professor of cognitive and behavioral science at Washington and Lee University, has received $104,500 grant from Jeffress Trust Awards Program in Interdisciplinary Research to support his project, “Modeling Energy Regulation Under Stress: A Possible Mechanism Linking Stress and Disease?”

Brindle’s project aims to apply advanced statistical modeling to oxygen demand measurements, heart rate and blood pressure made during mental stress to model the physiological response to mental stress.

The award will help to purchase new equipment for Brindle’s work in the Sleep, Stress, and Health Laboratory at W&L and provide stipends for student researchers.

“I am thrilled and feel extremely fortunate to have received this award,” Brindle said. “The proposed project has the potential to provide valuable information about the link between stress and health. Equally exciting is that this grant allows us to continue to outfit the laboratory with state-of-the-art research equipment that students can engage with and learn from. I am very excited to work with the students in the laboratory to start this study.”

“The study will test the hypotheses that bodily energy regulation, for example, matching bodily oxygen demand with oxygen supply, is comprised under stress and that dysfunctional energy regulation is associated with cardiovascular disease and depression,” Brindle said.

By combining statistical modeling and physiological measurement, Brindle’s study will provide mechanistic knowledge and improve methods for identifying individuals at high-risk for stress-related disease.

“Cardiovascular disease and depression impact millions of people worldwide annually, including more than 1.5 million Virginians,” Brindle said. “Mental stress is a contributing factor to the development and progression of these diseases and may represent a therapeutic target to improve individual and public health. However, the mechanisms linking stress to disease are poorly characterized, and methods for identifying at-risk individuals are lacking.”

Brindle will also use the equipment purchased through the grant for future research projects and laboratory-based research courses and experiences for students.

Brindle’s award is provided by the Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust, Bank of America and trustee and specified donor Hazel Thorpe Carman and George Gay Carman Trust.


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