Haley Vecchiarelli

Haley Vecchiarelli

Colitis induced alterations in anxiety & stress regulation

Field of Study: Neuroscience

Haley's work is investigating how the body’s version of cannabis (the endocannabinoid system) regulates comorbid anxiety during inflammatory diseases, specifically using a rat model of colitis.

She was working in a neuroinflammatory laboratory during her undergrad, and it was next to a stress neurobiology laboratory, and she just thought, “What if we put these together?” She became fascinated with understanding how stress systems in the brain interact with the immune system and vice versa, particularly as it has relevance to disease states.  She hopes that by better understanding what regulates psychiatric comorbidities in chronic inflammatory diseases, we can potentially use therapeutics, such as cannabinoids, to treat both the inflammation and the ensuing changes in mental health.

She chose the University of Calgary as it was one of the few places in the world with the diverse expertise in endocannabinoids, stress and anxiety neurobiology and psychiatric disease comorbidities. 

In 2018, Haley served as a member of the Senior Leadership Team as the Awards Committee Chair for the Graduate Students’ Association. She was also co-lead of the Graduate Leaders’ Circle, in which Vanier and Killam scholars at the University of Calgary mentor and assist potential future scholars through their application processes.

When asked what it meant to be named a Killam laureate, Haley responded "Killam laureates are some of the future thought leaders of Canada and the world. It is truly an honor to be named among them as a predoctoral scholar. I am beyond grateful to have this support, particularly as an international student."