Dr Rachel Sumner

BSc Hons Psychology (Staffordshire University), MSc Health Psychology (Staffordshire University), PhD Health Science (Brunel University)

Research Assistant – School of Health & Social Care

+44 (0)1242714595
School of Health and Social Care, Francis Close Hall, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 4AZ, U.K.

Rachel joined the University of Gloucestershire after completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Limerick (Republic of Ireland). She is an interdisciplinary health researcher with a background in several areas of Psychobiology (Psychoneuroimmunology, Psychoneurendocrinology, Psychophysiology) and a focus on several themes of Health Psychology (stress, neuroimmunomodulation, biopsychosocial health).

Her recent work includes empirical research on the chronic stress of unemployment, associated psychosocial predictors of psychological and physical wellbeing, and the psychobiology of chronic stress including biochemical analyses of salivary stress hormones using the ELISA method. She also works with secondary data, carrying out research examining predictors of health indices (such as inflammation, stress hormones) in various populations (e.g. unemployed, health care workers, carers). Rachel also has an interest in carrying out health-focussed service evaluations, systematic reviews, and theoretical meta analyses.

Key Research Interests

Rachel is very much interested in any area of health research that looks at the bidirectional communication between the brain and the body. She has a particular interest in hemispheric lateralisation, loneliness, stress, addiction, HIV, informal caregiving, unemployment, and work stress.


Sumner, R.C., Parton, A., Nowicky, A.V., Kishore, U. & Gidron, Y. (2011). Hemispheric lateralisation and immune function: A systematic review of human research. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 240-241, p.1-12

Sumner, R.C., Nowicky, A.V., Parton, A., Wylock, C., Cserjesi, R., Fischler, B., Lacor, P. & Gidron, Y. (2014). The prospective relation between hemispheric lateralisation and CD4+ T-cells in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1). NeuroImmunoModulation, 21, p.31-36

Gallagher, S., Sumner, R.C., Muldoon., O., Creaven, A-M. & Hannigan, A. (2016) Unemployment is associated with lower cortisol awakening and blunted dehydroepiandrosterone responses. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 69, p.41-49

Sumner, R.C. & Gallagher, S. (2017). The chronic stress of unemployment: A systematic review of cortisol studies. Psychology & Health, 32, (3), p.289-311