Monika Fleshner
Professor • Director of Stress Physiology Lab
Integrative Physiology

Monika Fleshner, PhD is a professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology, a member of the Center for Neuroscience, the director of the Stress Physiology laboratory, and the winner of the national 2016 Guyton Distinguished Lectureship Award from the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology. She teaches undergraduate and graduate immunology. Her integrative research program focuses on understanding 1) the impact of acute and chronic stressor exposure (mental and physical) on behavior, neural, hormonal and immunological function; 2) how such systems interact to affect the whole organism; and 3) the mechanisms of increased stress robustness (resistance/resilience) produced by exercise, prebiotics and cannabis constituents. She has published over 190 peer-reviewed articles and serves on the editorial boards of the Neurobiology of Stress, Brain, Behavior and Immunity and Frontiers in Neuroscience.  The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and Mead Johnson Nutrition have previously funded her research program. Current funding is provided by the Office of Naval Research and Functional Remedies Inc. Dr. Fleshner has served as the Chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly (BFA) Budget and Planning Committee (2014-2016), a member of the BFA Executive Committee (2014-2016), faculty associate for the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Colorado in Boulder (2009-2013), as President of the International Society for Exercise Immunology (ISEI, 2011-2013), and President (2011-2012) and Secretary/Treasurer (2004-2006) of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS).

Cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD extracts from the cannabis plant have biomedical and nutri-pharmaceutical potential. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD products produce few psychoactive effects and pose little risk for abuse. People use CBD products to treat a range of mental and physical health problems. Reducing anxiety and promoting sleep are common uses of CBD, and most people treat these issues by oral ingestion of CBD extracts, but it remains unknown if CBD and/or CBD extracts could prevent the development of stress-associated anxiety symptoms and sleep disruption, and if the complex extract formulation is more efficacious than CBD alone. Dr. Fleshner’s pre-clinical cannabis research program will explore the safety and efficacy of daily ingestion of purified cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD extracts to prevent and/or treat the negative effects of exposure to acute and repeated stress on exaggerated fear behavior, disruptions to normal diurnal physiological rhythms, and sleep disturbances.