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Emily Graves Severance, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Emily Graves Severance, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Background

Dr. Emily Graves Severance is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She serves as a co-investigator at the Silvio O. Conte Center for Schizophrenia Research at Johns Hopkins. 

As part of her ongoing research program, Dr. Severance focuses on the major gateway of the immune system, the gastrointestinal mucosa, where inflammation, food hypersensitivities, barrier defects and immune dysregulation can cause downstream brain dysfunction in people with psychiatric disorders. She is also currently part of a research team studying a newly-discovered algae virus in the throats of healthy people that may subtly alter a range of cognitive functions including visual processing and spatial orientation in those who harbor it. 

In 2011, she was awarded a Young Investigator fellowship by NARSAD: The Brain and Behavior Research Fund for her research testing whether a breached gastrointestinal barrier contributes to symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Severance earned her B.S. from the University of Maryland and her Ph.D. from the University of South Florida.

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Titles

  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Education

Degrees

  • B.S., University of Maryland (College Park) (Maryland) (1993)
  • Ph.D., University of South Florida (Florida) (2002)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Severance's research aims to understand how perinatal and subsequent exposure to certain foods and microbes might contribute to psychiatric symptoms and pathologies. Brain and behavioral abnormalities in schizophrenia, affective disorders and autism may be produced by the direct effects of food-derived peptides on the central nervous system or by an indirect activation of cellular immunity by inflammatory processes associated with dietary and microbial antigens. Both mechanisms would require an alteration of the gastrointestinal system in the disease state and an understanding of the impact of immune factors on the gut-brain axis. The ability to identify individuals who can be treated with dietary or other interventions that modulate intestinal permeability, inflammation and digestion is a primary goal of this line of research.

Activities & Honors

Honors

  • Young Investigator fellowship, NARSAD: The Brain and Behavior Research Fund, 2011
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