Pierce's research focused on mechanisms relating early life stress in females to chronic pain and mood disorders in adulthood.
Stress and chronic pain
Infants and children that are exposed to chronic stressors early in life are at increased risk to develop chronic pain &/or mood disorders in adulthood. This project evaluates molecular and cellular mechanisms associated with investigating the underlying perturbations in the way the brain processes stress and pain.
Stress and exacerbation of pain
Patients suffering from chronic pain commonly report an increase in their symptoms during times of acute stress. This project investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms associated with this phenomenon.
Treating chronic pain
Chronic pain syndromes are notoriously difficult to treat, particularly when the cause of the pain is unknown. This project investigates the potential benefit of using complementary approaches to treating &/or preventing the onset of stress-associated chronic pain.
Her future work will evaluate the efficacy of complementary and non-traditional treatments such as regular exercise, manipulative medicine, and mind-body interventions to treat and prevent chronic stress, pain and mood disorders in a population of people at high risk for such diseases. Her long-term vision is to unite a team of experts that together improve the well-being of those suffering from the physical, physiologic, and psychological impacts of chronic stress in our community.