Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Exciting PhD opportunity University of Leeds: Stress reactivity and suicidal behaviour: Exploring hair cortisol as a biomarker for suicide vulnerability

Faculty of M

edicine and

Leeds Anniv

ersary Research 


Faculty of Medicine and Health
Leeds Anniversary Research Studentship

Title of Project: Stress reactivity and suicidal behaviour: Exploring hair cortisol as a biomarker for suicide vulnerability

Deadline for applications is Friday 26th February 2016

Monday, 25 January 2016

Salimetrics One World: Profiles of International Leaders in Salivary Bioscience: Dr Kelly L Klump, MSU Foundation Endowed Professor, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, USA

Each month we will feature an expert from the Salimetrics Saliva Research Community. We will bring together University Researchers around the World in order to encourage the sharing of ideas. We want to encourage Collaborative Research and to maximise Grant Applications / Awards in these challenging economic times. We have made it possible for you to communicate directly with the "Expert" featured.  

This Month: Dr Kelly L Klump, Michigan State University


Kelly Klump is pioneering research that is changing people’s mindsets about the causes of eating disorders. It has been long believed that eating disorders were the result of psychosocial and cultural risk factors that often peak in women during puberty. Kelly has discovered that those factors alone do not cause these serious disorders. 
She has found that genetics plays a significant role in the development of eating disorders.  As a result of groundbreaking research, she is closer to understanding why these disorders occur and how biology may interact with cultural risk factors. At its roots, Kelly’s work is dedicated to giving young women the best opportunity to fulfil a happy, healthy life.
Kelly is an MSU Foundation Professor in the Psychology Department at Michigan State University. She co-founded the Michigan State University Twin Registry, a population-based twin registry that includes over 25,000 twins.

Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including the Price Foundation Award for Research Excellence in 2012. Kelly has been awarded the APA Early Contributions Award, and has served as the President of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED). Kelly is a Fellow of the AED and the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and is also a licensed Psychologist. She is currently serving as Treasurer of the Behavior Genetics Association and as an Advisory Committee Member for The Renfrew Center Clinical Excellence Board. Kelly has been named one of the top 25 Psychology Professors in Michigan.

Kelly earned her B.S. in Psychology summa cum laude from Michigan State University, and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota. She completed her predoctoral internship at McLean Hospital in the Harvard University Medical School, and her postdoctoral fellowship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in the University of Pittsburgh Medical 

1. Can you tell us about the major themes in your research program?

My research using a developmental, behavioral genetic approach to examine genetic and hormonal risk factors for eating disorders.  We are interested in examining how hormones moderate genetic risk for these disorders across time, development, and major reproductive events (e.g., the menstrual cycle).

2. If you had to pick 1 publication in the past 5 years as the "best of your best", what would it be and why? 

 Klump, K.L., Hildebrandt, B.A., O’Connor, S.M., Keel, P.K., Neale, M., Sisk, C.L., Boker, S., & Burt, S.A. (2015).  Changes in genetic risk for emotional eating across the menstrual cycle: A longitudinal study.  Psychological Medicine, 45(15), 3227-3237.

This paper examines within-subject changes in genetic risk for binge eating across the menstrual cycle. We show pretty dramatic shifts in genetic risk (increases during mid-luteal phase) that map onto changes in phenotypic risk (binge eating is highest in mid-luteal phase).  Since the DNA doesn’t change, these data really suggest that changes in gene expression likely underlie menstrual cycle changes in binge eating.

3. How did you get interested in using saliva in your research?

It was a necessity! We wanted to conduct a daily study across the menstrual cycle, and most subjects won’t let you draw blood on a daily basis!  We had to find a method that was non-invasive and easy for participants to do.

4. Which salivary analytes are you working with?

Estrogen and progesterone.

5. How has working with saliva changed the direction of your research plans?

It’s allowed me to use much more frequent and detailed longitudinal data designs to tease apart hormone/gene/behavior associations.

6. What analyte is not measured in saliva now that you would hope could be measured in the future?

Synthetic estrogens and progestins that are included in hormonal contraceptives.

7. What advice would give young investigators who might be considering working with saliva in their research?

Go for it!  It is an easy method for both the investigator and the research participants. You can get good quality data with saliva that helps you answer important questions about health and well-being.

8. Tell us something about you (a hobby or special interest) that we would be surprised to know?  

I am an obsessive slalom water skier. I live on a lake in Michigan, and in the summer months, you can find me on the ski course at 6 am most mornings!  

Contact Details:

Kelly L. Klump, Ph.D.
MSU Foundation Endowed Professor
Co-Director of the Michigan State University Twin Registry
Department of Psychology
Michigan State University
316 Physics Rd - Room 107B
East Lansing, MI 48824-1116
PH: 517-432-7281
FAX: 517-432-2476
E-mail: klump@msu.edu

Are you wanting to measure Hair Cortisol for your Chronic Stress Research Study, Salimetrics tests Hair at it's Cambridge Laboratory ask us for a quote, meantime here is how to take Hair Samples

Cutting the hair

The hair needs to as close to the scalp as possible but should but cut and not ‘pulled’ out as the hair bulb may contain an mini HPA system capable of producing cortisol.  Most research cut from the back of the head in a “posterior vertex position” (Kirchbaum et al., 2008).  It is important to tie the hair to ensure that we can locate the hair from the scalp.  We currently tie the hair with cotton before cutting (small hair bands also work).  The amount of hair required from each participant will vary depending on the participants hair and how much hair they are prepared to be cut but as a as a rule of thumb we collect around the diameter of a pencil’s worth of hair from each participant. 

Single and Double extraction

With saliva testing it would be normal to run the assay in duplicate, that is the saliva and all known amounts of cortisol are assayed in two different wells.  This allows a quality control check to ensure that the ELISA assay is giving approximately the same cortisol reading in both wells.  Whilst ELISA is a reliable assay it is possible for to get different results between wells for a variety of reasons (some assay related and some sample quality related).   
With hair cortisol the extraction of cortisol from the hair into methanol and ultimately into a ph neutral buffer creates an additional area of potential variability.  The extraction method has been optimised to provide the minimum variation between extractions from the same sample of hair but some researchers want to quantify the variation in hair cortisol following extraction, especially if they are using an unusual type or amount of hair.   One option is to have a subsample of hair data extracted twice as this allows the variation between hair cortisol levels evaluated but without the cost of extracting all samples twice. 

Storage & Shipping

In terms of collecting, storing and shipping the hair to us:  Store at room temperature in a non-airtight container (like a small ‘evidence’ envelope), the hair must be tied in some way to ensure that we can locate the hair from the scalp.  We tie the hair with cotton before cutting (small hair bands also work).

Does it have to be head hair in humans?

There is no reason why other hair samples would not contain cortisol in but variance of cortisol thought to be lowest in samples taken from the back of the head and there is very little published data on cortisol levels in other types of hair.  We don’t have any data on how chest hair might compare to head hair, but technically there aren’t any reasons why we can’t analyse it.

Additional information re: Storage of Hair Samples:
Most people are storing in small envelopes or aluminium foil, freezing would be unnecessary or could cause more harm than good, as it's been shown by hamel and maneshijn  that moisture can deteriorate the steroids in the hair. The reason we think it would unnecessary to freeze the hair is that studies are showing stable cortisol levels in archaeological hair, that has not been frozen, just been kept dry. and studies using hair that has been cut 2 years prior to analysis and still finding significant effects.

Our assay development continues apace.....Researching Chronic Stress, talk to us now and we will guide you though the process, Salivary or Hair Cortisol: contact europe@salimetrics.com

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Calling all Pet Owners, Veterinary Practices & Animal Behaviour Researchers - Talk to us about Animal Wellness! The Salimetrics Animal Stress Testing Programme uses a simple, accurate, reproducible, minimally invasive saliva-based stress test

Researching biomarkers in animals or during human-animal interaction has uncovered individual behavioral triggers and account for some of the variability in animal behaviors. Studies have shown that owner personality may directly influence stress coping in dyadic relationships with animals. Salivary Cortisol measures after social, non-social, separation, stranger-interaction, and transport situations have uncovered sources of elevated cortisol in pets, as well as animal interactions that correlate with characteristic stressful behavior patterns.

Salimetrics Research Testing and the Salimetrics Domestic Canine Programme can help vets, researchers and pet owners to identify stressful situations, aiding in the design of coping mechanisms, leading to healthier interactions between humans and animals!