Sally Masters, M.D.
Sally Masters was interested in the relationship between psychological stress and illness before she even started medical school. After attending medical school at the University of Arizona she completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Dartmouth - Hitchcock Medical Center. Because psychological stress is associated with chronically elevated glucocorticoid levels, she decided to pursue research in this area by entering a fellowship in Endocrinology, also at Dartmouth. During this time, she worked in the lab of Dr. Alan Munck, and later the lab of Dr. Randy Noelle where she studied the effect of CD40 ligation on the development of immunity, and also conversely, the induction of immune tolerance by blocking CD40.
More recently, she returned to her first interest, stress and the immune system, and specifically the links between certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, the Metabolic Syndrome, aging and psychological stress. Her thesis rests on the observation that there are a number of perturbations which are common to all of these process, i.e. elevations in inflammatory cytokines, dysregulation of the HPA axis, and dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. If the pathways by which these perturbations can be interrupted, then a reduction in cytokine levels, and a balancing of the autonomic nervous system may be the result. Ostensibly, this will lead to an enhancement of health with a potential benefit to aging process. One such intervention, shown at the Cousins' Center to benefit older subjects is Tai Chi Chih, which allowed for an enhancement of cellular immunity to varicella zoster. Her research project will involve the study of innate cellular responses to positive interventions such as Tai Chi Chih, and the immunologic and physiologic mechanisms by which this might be occurring.