Everson Laboratory


Health Research Center


General Interests

Physiology, Endocrinology, Metabolism

View Carol Everson, PhD Bio
Lab dishes extration close up

Research Areas

Intervening in mild traumatic brain injury to improve outcomes. Our laboratory is investigating practical interventions that may be implemented in the field to improve outcomes after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Each intervention under study – sleep augmentation, sleep restriction, caffeine, and sedation – is known to profoundly affect cerebral blood flow and metabolism, which are integral to injury sequelae. These interventions are being evaluated for changes to the extent and course of brain injury (i.e., local coherence of brain neural activity, functional brain connectivity, and microstructural disturbances) and for changes to hormonal and behavioral co-morbidities in mTBI. The outcomes will provide basic proof of concept for practical and low-cost means to improve mTBI outcomes during acute and subacute postinjury intervals.

This initiative is supported by a grant awarded by the U.S. Army Medical Research & Development Command, Department of Defense. Collaborators include Drs. Brian Stemper and Matthew Budde, Department of Neurosurgery; Dr. Aniko Szabo, Institute for Health and Equity; and Dr. Thomas Hammeke (retired), Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

Sleep and circadian rhythm alignment as determinants of bone remodeling and osteoporosis prevention. The skeletal system, besides being the site for hematopoiesis and mineral storage, reacts to mechanical loading, inflammation, and hormonal signals, and secretes substances that affect brain regulation of metabolism. It should therefore be no surprise that this metabolically active and complex organ is negatively affected by insufficient sleep and misaligned circadian rhythms. Rotating shift work significantly increases the risk of bone loss, fractures, and osteoporosis diagnosis in middle and old age. We are investigating the mediators and mechanisms of bone pathology resulting from chronically insufficient sleep and misaligned circadian rhythms. Also, we are planning to elucidate the extent to which both sleep and circadian rhythm alignment are critical for bone development in skeletally immature individuals.

This work is being carried out in collaboration with Drs. Jeffrey Toth and Mei Wang in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; Dr. Jennifer Evans in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Marquette University; Dr. Hershel Raff in the Department of Medicine, Physiology, and Surgery; Dr. Aniko Szabo in the Institute for Health and Equity; and Dr. Robert Blank, Professor Emeritus of Medicine.

Deconstructing sleep disruption as a major risk factor for relapse in opioid use. The threat of relapse to opioid use is severe and unrelenting: 40-60% of individuals who misuse or become addicted to opioids relapse weeks or months after opioid withdrawal. Profound sleep disturbances during abstinence have long been suspected of perpetuating vulnerability to relapse. Our laboratory has shown that persistent sleep disruption dysregulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis – a likely biological basis of vulnerability. Therefore, the HPA axis is being interrogated to isolate the mechanism that may be maintained in a dysregulated state by persistent sleep restriction during opioid abstinence. Furthermore, two clinically-relevant approaches to situations where too little or too much HPA-axis output is suspected will be tested for treatment efficacy: glucocorticoid replacement and glucocorticoid receptor antagonism. The functional outcome measure will be the degree of mitigation of opioid drug seeking. Characterization of vulnerable phenotypes will include stress-induced changes glucocorticoids, pain sensitivity, and responses to novel environments.

This is a multi-PI project with Dr. Everson, Dr. Christopher Olsen, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology; and Dr. Hershel Raff, Departments of Medicine, Physiology, and Surgery. Collaborating scientists include Dr. Aniko Szabo in the Institute for Health and Equity and Dr. Cheryl Stucky in the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy. This project is supported by a grant award from the National Institutes of Health HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative.

Current Members

Madison Kruk

Research Technologist II

Nicolas Pucek

Research Technologist I

Rachel Jackson

Research Technologist I

Recent Publications