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College of Nursing

  • brain gut health



The brain-gut axis (BGA) or gut-brain axis (GBA) describes the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and enteric nervous system, or “little brain” in your digestive tract.


We investigate the biopsychosocial influences on the brain-gut connection in individuals with chronic abdominal pain and other chronic conditions. We are interested in how the intersection of these factors influence health outcomes and incorporate omics and other discovery methodologies in these research endeavors.

Currently recruiting

Intersection of sex and gender among individuals with IBS

The long-term objective of this study is to better understand how sex- and/or gender-based factors contribute to the disproportionate burden of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in women. Specifically, the goals of this research study are twofold:

  • Assess feasibility and acceptability of remote, longitudinal salivary steroid hormone measurement in women and men with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and women and men who serve as healthy controls (HC).
  • Assess feasibility and acceptability of virtual study visits with psychosocial/gender-based assessments among women and men with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and women and men who serve as healthy controls (HC).

Individuals who choose to participate will attend two online/virtual study visits over the course of approximately one month/menstrual cycle, complete online questionnaires, daily symptom assessment, and collect four saliva samples at home which are mailed back to the college. Individuals do not have to live in South Carolina to participate. 

  • Women and men (18-45 years of age)
  • Ability to read/write in English
  • Access to smartphone/computer with internet and camera
  • Diagnosis of IBS and IBS subtype (for cases), with documentation provided by healthcare provider
  • Willingness to participate in all study procedures
  • Any organic gastrointestinal (GI) condition (inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, active H. pylori infection, etc.)
  • Any malignancies or endocrine disorders such as hypogonadism/ovarian hypofunction, polycystic ovarian syndrome, menstrual cycle irregularities, adrenal disorders
  • Severe comorbid pain or psychiatric condition requiring recent hospitalization
  • Pregnancy, recent pregnancy (past three months), or plans to become pregnant during study period
  • Planned changes to GI medications during study timeframe
  • $200 for men who serve as healthy controls (HC)
  • $225 for men with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • $225 for women who serve as HC
  • $250 for women with IBS 

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