Chris Lowry’s work has focused on the way neural mechanisms affect anxiety and affective disorders, as well as the relevant risk factors, such as sleep deprivation, circadian disruption, inflammation, and the interaction with the gut microbiome, in particular. 

The major focus has been on the anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects of certain mycobacteria in the prevention of stress induced colitis and exaggerated anxiety and fear-like behavioural responses, especially in terms of stress resilience and coping behaviour in general.

His interest in mycobacteria originated with Tuberculosis (TB) and BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin – the vaccine for TB) and the fact that the latter has been used for the treatment of certain cancers for many years with occasional success. The observations relating to the mood and coping behaviour effects in patients treated with mycobacteria prompted him to look at the effects on serotonergic neurons (serotonin is also known as the “happy molecule”) in animal models and prove that these were activated and contributed to the effects seen. 

Further research followed and has concentrated on the effects on neuro-inflammation and microglial priming (microglia are the brain’s innate immune cells) in relation to the clinical effects of anxiety, stress, fear, and the interaction with the gut/brain axis. The relevance to humans in terms of treating, and better still preventing, major neurological diseases such as depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and autism to name a few, and which are now known to be a consequence of chronic inflammatory changes, are obvious.

Watch Chris at TEDx

He has published around 200 peer-reviewed articles and is currently an editorial board member for Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Stress: The International Journal on the Biology of Stress, and Frontiers in Psychiatry. The National Institute of Mental Health, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and the Office of Naval Research currently fund his research.