Elisabeth G. Vichaya, Ph.D.

Elisabeth G. Vichaya, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
High Res Photo

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Psychoneuroimmunology Laboratory


Postdoctoral Fellowship, Neuroimmunology Laboratory, Department of Symptom Research, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2011-2017

Ph.D., Behavioral and Cellular Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, 2011

M.S., Behavioral and Cellular Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, 2007

B.S., Psychology & Religion, Wayland Baptist University, 2004


Dr. Vichaya earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Texas A&M University in 2011. Her research was focused on understanding the mechanisms by which stress impacts disease progression in a murine model of multiple sclerosis. Upon graduation, Dr. Vichaya started a post-doctoral fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Symptom Research. She spent the first year of her fellowship conducting research on symptom burden and assessment in cancer patients.  She then transitioned to join the newly opened Neuroimmunology Laboratory where she employed preclinical models to study the mechanisms underlying cancer- and inflammation-associated fatigue and depression. Dr. Vichaya was promoted to an Instructor at MD Anderson in 2017 and remained there until she joined the Baylor faculty in 2019.


My research is broadly aimed at understanding the mechanism by which the brain and immune system communicate. This includes an interest in understanding how psychological factors, such as stress, are able to impact our vulnerability to disease as well as how diseases, such as cancer, can impact how we feel, think, and behave.

Currently, the primary focus of my research is on understanding the mechanisms underlying cancer-related fatigue. There is growing evidence that the fatigue that develops in response to cancer and cancer therapy is likely a consequence of widespread inefficiency in cellular energy production. My research employs mouse models to better understanding these mechanisms. Further, the research within my laboratory aims to understand why a subset of individuals continue to experience debilitating fatigue and depression for months and even years after completion of cancer therapy. A multitude of variables (e.g., genetics, life experience, age, and disease/treatment-related factors) likely contribute to the risk of symptom persistence.

Representative Publications

Vichaya, E.G., Laumet, G., Christian, D.L., Grossberg, A.J., Estrada, D.J., Heijnen, C.J., Kavelaars, A., Dantzer, R. (2019). Motivational changes that develop in a mouse model of inflammation-induced depression are independent of indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase. Neuropsychopharmacology. 44(2): 364-71. PMID: 29755330.

Madeo, M., Colbert, P.L., Vermeer, D.W., Lucido, B.A., Vichaya, E.G., Grossberg, A.J., Cain, J.T., Muirhead, D., Rickel, A.P., Hong, Z., Spanos, W.C., Lee, J.H.., Dantzer, R., Vermeer, P.D. (2018). Tumor-released exosomes induce tumor innervation. Nature Communications. 9(1): 4284. PMID: 30327461.

Lacourt, T.E., Vichaya, E.G., Escalante, C., Manzullo, E.F., Gunn, B., Hess, K.R., Heijnen, C.J., Dantzer, R. (2018). An effort expenditure perspective on cancer-related fatigue. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 96: 109-117. PMID: 29929087.

Vichaya, E.G., Dantzer, R. (2018). Inflammation-induced motivational changes: Perspective gained by evaluating positive and negative valence systems. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 22: 90-95. PMID: 29888301.

Lacourt, T.E., Vichaya, E.G., Chiu, G.S., Dantzer, R., Heijnen, C.J. (2018). The high costs of low-grade inflammation: persistent fatigue as a consequence of reduced cellular-energy availability and nonadaptive energy expenditure. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 12: 78. PMID: 29755330.

Grossberg, A.G., Vichaya, E.G., Christian, D.L., Molkentine, J.M., Vermeer, D., Gross, P., Vermeer, P., Lee, D.H., Dantzer, R. (2018). Fatigue in cancer patients develops independently of interleukin-1 signaling. Cancer Research. 78(3): 695-705. PMID: 29217760.

Vichaya, E.G., Vermeer, D.W., Christian, D.L., Molkentine, J.M., Mason, K.A., Lee, J.H., and Dantzer, R. (2017). Neuroimmune mechanisms of behavioral alterations in a syngeneic murine model of human papilloma virus-related head and neck cancer. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 79: 59-66. PMID: 28259044.

Chiu, G.S., Maj, M.A., Rizvi, S., Dantzer, R., Vichaya, E.G., Laumet, G., Kavelaars, A., and Heijnen, C.J. (2017). Pifithrin-µ prevents cisplatin-induced chemobrain by preserving neuronal mitochondrial function. Cancer Research. 77(3): 742-52. PMID: 27879267.

Vichaya, E.G., Molkentine, J.M., Vermeer, D.W., Walker, A.K., Feng, R., Holder, G., Luu, K., Mason, R.M., Saligan, L., Heijnen, C.J., Kavelaars, A., Mason, K.A., Lee, J.H., and Dantzer, R. (2016). Sickness behavior induced by cisplatin chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a murine head and neck cancer model is associate with altered mitochondrial gene expression. Behavioural Brain Research. 297: 241-250. PMID: 26475509.

Vichaya, E.G., Chiu, G.S., Krukowski, K., Lacourt, T.E., Kavelaars, A., Dantzer, R., Heijnen, C.J., and Walker, A.K. (2015). Mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced behavioral toxicities. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 9: 131. PMID: 25954147.

Kosturakis, A.K.., He, Z., Li, Y., Boyette-Davis, J.A., Shah, N., Thomas, S.K., Zhang, H., Vichaya, E.G., Wang, X.S., Wendelschafer-Crabb, G., Kennedy, W.R., Simone, D.A., Cleeland, C.S., and Dougherty, P.M. (2014). Subclinical peripheral neuropathy in multiple myeloma patients prior to chemotherapy is correlated with decreased fingertip innervation density. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32(28): 3156-3162. PMID: 25170640.

Fagundes, C., Jones, D., Vichaya, E.G., Lu, C., and Cleeland, C.S. (2014). Socioeconomic status is associated with depressive severity among patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer: Treatment setting and minority status do not make a difference. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. 9(10): 1459-1463. PMID: 25170640.

Vichaya, E.G., Hunt, S.C., and Dantzer, R. (2014). Lipopolysaccharide reduces incentive motivation while boosting preference for high reward in mice. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39(12): 2884-2890. PMID: 24917202.

Young, E.E., Vichaya, E.G., Reusser, N.M., Cook, J.L., Welsh, C.J., & Meagher, M.W. (2013). Social Stress Disrupts Virus-Specific Adaptive Immunity during Acute Theiler’s Virus Infection. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 254, 19-27. PMID: 23021485.

Vichaya, E.G., Young, E.E., Frazier, M.A., Cook, J.L., Welsh, C.J., & Meagher, M.W. (2011). Social Disruption Primes the Inflammatory Response to Theiler’s Virus Infection. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 239, 44-52. PMID: 22000153.

Vichaya, E.G., Baumbauer, K.M., Carcoba, L.M., Grau, J.W., & Meagher, M.W. (2009). Spinal Glia Modulate Both Adaptive and Pathological Processes. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 23, 969-976. PMID: 19435601.

Current Ph.D. Students

Kayla Gilley
Hailey Rodgers

Graduate Student Recruitment

Dr. Vichaya is currently accepting applications for Ph.D. students.

Courses taught at Baylor

  • NSC/PSY 4319 – Clinical Neuroscience