Dr. Beverley Greenwood-Van Meerveld's major research interest focuses on communication between the brain and the gut.  Since her arrival in Oklahoma City in 1994, she has been awarded over $4 million in research grants and contracts from agencies such as the Veteran's Affairs, National Institutes of Health, Presbyterian Health Foundation, and multiple companies.

Her research interests relate to the Brain-Gut Axis. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) including abdominal pain are due to abnormalities in visceral sensation, characterized by increased awareness of visceral stimuli. The worsening of IBS symptoms by stress and anxiety suggest a link between cognitive and peripheral autonomic activity.

We have discovered a link between anxiety and visceral sensitivity by showing that rats predisposed to heightened levels of anxiety display a hypersensitive colon.  Moreover stereotaxic administration of glucocorticoids to the amygdala increases anxiety coupled with a hypersensitive colon.

Our current research builds upon an important observation that emotional states influence sensory processing and in IBS life stress and negative emotions worsen primary symptomatology. Taken together the studies in her  laboratory will enhance our understanding of brain-gut pathways involved in the regulation of gastrointestinal function as it relates to IBS.

With the aid of behavioral, pharmacological and electrophysiological methods we are examining the:-

1. The brain-gut axis as is relates to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and anxiety

2. Role of amygdala-mediated mechanisms in the control of visceral and somatic pain

3. Importance of early life trauma on visceral and somatic pain in adulthood

4. Sex-related differences in the relationship between visceral pain and anxiety

5. Effect of chronic stress on the GI tract

6. Effect of aging on the GI tract

In addition to our work on brain-gut interactions, we are investigating the effects of novel pharmacological approaches to treat GI disorders such as IBS, IBD and post-operative ileus.

ACTIVE Research Funding – GRANTS

[1]        Source: Department of Veterans Affairs. Career Scientist Award

Duration: 2006-2011, 2011-2016

            Role: PI

Specific Objective: This award provides salary support [VA component] to Dr BGVM

 [2]        Source: Department of Veterans Affairs. Merit Review Grant 

            Title: Central Mechanisms Modulating Visceral Hypersensitivity

            Duration: Oct. 2008-March  2013 (first funded in 2005)

            Role: PI

 Specific Objective: This project investigates the affect of amygdala activation on GI function

 [3]        Source: Department of Veterans Affairs. Merit Review Grant

   Title: Understanding Pain of Gastrointestinal Origin in Women that Serve in OEF/OIF

             Duration April, 1 2011 – March 30 2015

            Role: PI

Specific Objective: This project investigates the mechanisms underlying the link between stress and behaviors that impact the health and overall quality of life of female Veterans

 [4]         Source: National Institute of Health Research (F31)

              Title: Central Mechanisms of Stress-Induced Visceral Hypersensitivity

               Duration: 01/01/11 – 12/31/13

               PI: Anthony Johnson (Mentor: Beverley Greenwood-Van Meerveld)

  Specific Objective: This grant supports Mr. Johnson’s Ph.D. thesis research

Source: NIH P20

Source: National Institute of Health (P20)


Title: Epithelial Permeability in Chronic Pelvic Pain Disorders (Oct.   2012-Sep 2014)           


Role: Co-PI (PI – Robert Hurst)


Specific Objective: This grant will foster a interdisciplinary research collaboration between clinical and basic scientists to study interstitial cystitis and painful bladder syndrome.