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School of Medicine Columbia

Faculty and Staff

Susan Wood, Ph.D.

Title: Associate Professor
Department: Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience
School of Medicine Columbia
Phone: 803-216-3522
Fax: 803-216-3549

Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuro
Basic Science Bldg 1, Room D28A



Biopsychology, University of Michigan

Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University
Division of Stress Neurobiology, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Project #1—Cytokines in monoaminergic nuclei regulating susceptibility to social defeat (American Heart Association, Scientist Development Grant) This project seeks to identify regions in the brain that may function differently in susceptible versus resilient individuals to promote cardiovascular disease and psychological disorders in the face of stress. We have identified a critical role for neuroinflammation in susceptibility to social stress and these studies manipulate the activity of inflammatory cytokines in the brain to determine their role in mediating increased risk of stress-related pathology.

Project #2—Identifying the neuroinflammatory pathways driving increased stress susceptibility in females (NARSAD Young Investigator Award; Females are more susceptible to stress-related disorders compared with men. This project is focused on identifying signaling cascades regulating neuroinflammation within females undergoing social stress as a mechanism to reduce stress-susceptibility.

Project #3—Estrogen-mediated mechanisms of stress susceptibility. The overall goal of this project is to identify how ovarian hormones interact with stress-related neurochemicals within the stress sensitive brain region, the central amygdala, to increase stress susceptibility.


  • Finnell J, Muniz BL, Padi AR, Lombard CM, Moffitt CM, Wood, CS, Wilson LB, Reagan LP, Wilson MA, Wood SK (accepted). Essential role of ovarian hormones in susceptibility to the consequences of witnessing social defeat in female rats. Biological Psychiatry.
  • Finnell JE, Lombard CM, Padi AR, Moffitt CM, Wilson LB, Wood CS, Wood SK. (2017) Physical versus psychological social stress in male rats reveals distinct cardiovascular, inflammatory and behavioral consequences. PLoS One. Feb. 12 (2).
  • Finnell JE, Lombard CM, Melson MN, Singh NP, Nagarkatti M, Nagarkatti P, Fadel JR, Wood CS, Wood SK. (2017) The protective effects of resveratrol on social stress-induced cytokine release and depressive-like behavior. Brain Behavior and Immunity. Jan; 59: 147-157.
  • Wood CS, Valentino RJ, Wood SK (2017). Individual differences in the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system: Relevance to stress-induced cardiovascular vulnerability. Physiology and Behavior (Invited review, special Issue). April; 172: 40-48.
  • Wood SK, Valentino RJ (2017) The brain norepinephrine system, stress and cardiovascular vulnerability. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (Special issue on “Stress, Behavior and the Heart”, invited review). Mar; 74(Pt B): 393-400.
  • Zitnik G, Curtis AL, Wood SK, Arner J, Valentino RJ. (2016) Adolescent social stress produces an enduring activation of the rat locus coeruleus and alters its coherence with the prefrontal cortex. Neuropsychopharmacology April; 41(5): 1376-85.
  • Finnell JE, Wood SK (2016) Neuroinflammation at the interface of depression and cardiovascular disease: evidence from rodent models of social stress. Neurobiology of Stress (Invited review, Special issue on “Stress and Inflammation”) 4: 4: 1-14.
  • Wood SK, Wood CS, Lombard CM, Lee CS, Zhang X-Y, Finnell JE, Valentino RJ. (July 1, 2015) Inflammatory factors mediate vulnerability to a social stress-induced depressive-like phenotype in passive coping rats. Biological Psychiatry. 78(1):38-48. NIHMS ID# 645395
  • Commentary on this article included in the July 1, 2015 issue of Biological Psychiatry: Felger JC, Haroon E, Miller AH. Risk and Resilience: Animal models shed light on the pivotal role of inflammation in individual differences in stress-induced depression. (July 1, 2015. 78: 7-9)
  • Wood SK, Bhatnagar S. (2015) Resilience to the effects of social stress: evidence from clinical and preclinical studies on the role of coping strategies. Neurobiology of Stress. (Invited review, Special Issue on Resilience). 1: 164-173. NIHMS ID# 644554
  • Waters RP, Rivalian M, Bangasser DA, Deussing JM, Ising M, Wood SK, Holsboer F, Summers CH. (2015) Evidence for the role of corticotropin-releasing factor in major depressive disorder. (Invited conference review) Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

Find Dr. Wood on Pubmed.

Lab Members


  • Cora Smiley (Post-Doctoral Fellow)
  • Shannon "Evelynn" Harrington" (Research Specialist II)
  • Samantha Bouknight, B.S. (Graduate Student)
  • Brittany Pope, B.S. (Graduate Student)
  • Shannon "Evelynn" Harrington" (Research Specialist II)
  • Sarah Mott (Undergraduate Student, Volunteer, Magellan Scholar)


  • Julie Finnell, B.S. (Predoctoral Student, @JulieEFinnell)
  • Brandon Muniz, B.S. (Research Specialist)
  • Casey Moffitt (Undergraduate Honors Student)
  • Akhila Padi (Undergraduate Honors Student)
  • Lauren Hesser (Undergraduate Honors Student)
  • Jonathan Rivers, B.S. (Medical Student, summer 2017)
  • Calliandra Lombard, B.S. (Research Specialist)
  • Michael Melson (Undergraduate Student, 2013-2015)
  • Casey Sanner, B.S. (Medical Student, summer 2014)
  • Harris Robertson (Undergraduate Student, 2016)
  • Edam Tchegnon    (PREP Student, 2015)
  • Angela Rosenberg  (Undergraduate Student, 2015)
  • Sarah Mott (High School Student, summer 2014 & 2017)

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.