Joanna Spencer-Segal, M.D., Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor, Michigan Neuroscience Institute
Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes

1006 MBNI Building
205 Zina Pitcher Place
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5720

Areas of Interest

The Spencer-Segal lab focuses on the neural circuits that govern emotional behaviors, both innately and in response to stress. Many of the regions of and circuits in the brain that play a role in emotional behavior also influence the stress response. Stress hormones also act directly on brain regions that influence mood and related behaviors. A neuro-endocrinologist, Spencer-Segal is particularly interested in the communication between the neural circuits that govern emotional behavior and the stress response.

The goals of this research are to understand 1) the neural circuits that govern avoidance or anxiety-like behavior; 2) how the activity in these circuits changes in response to stress; and 3) the role of the stress response and stress hormones in the circuit activity and resulting behaviors. By manipulating these circuits in mouse models, the team aims to shape behavior in the laboratory in ways that will inform brain- and endocrine-based treatments for patients suffering from stress-related disorders.

One particular area of research involves the investigation of the neuro-biologic sequelae of sepsis. Sepsis is an acute, often fatal medical illness. Sepsis survivors face an uphill battle that often includes significant mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and cognitive dysfunction. Using a naturalistic mouse model of sepsis, the lab has characterized a post-sepsis syndrome in and is investigating relevant neural and molecular mechanisms. It is hoped that the work will yield treatments to help the millions of sepsis survivors suffering from related mental health challenges.

Honors & Awards

2018 NARSAD Young Investigator Award
2018 Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Young Investigator Award
2019 Early Investigators Award, The Endocrine Society

Published Articles or Reviews

Persistent Neuroinflammation and Brain Specific Immune Priming in A Novel Survival Model of Murine Pneumosepsis.
Denstaedt SJ, Spencer-Segal JL, Newstead M, Laborc K, Zeng X, Standiford TJ, Singer BH. Shock. 2019 Aug 13. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000001435. [Epub ahead of print]

Future Directions for Corticosteroids in Treatment of Sepsis.
Spencer-Segal JL. JAMA Intern Med. 2019 Jun 1;179(6):845. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0859. No abstract available.

Glucocorticoids and resilience.
Spencer-Segal JL, Akil H.Horm Behav. 2019 May;111:131-134. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2018.11.005. Epub 2018 Nov 24. Review.

S100A8/A9 Drives Neuroinflammatory Priming and Protects against Anxiety-like Behavior after Sepsis.
Denstaedt SJ, Spencer-Segal JL, Newstead MW, Laborc K, Zhao AP, Hjelmaas A, Zeng X, Akil H, Standiford TJ, Singer BH. J Immunol. 2018 May 1;200(9):3188-3200. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1700834. Epub 2018 Mar 21.

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