Research finds chronic stress heightens vulnerability to diet-related metabolic risk
New research from a group including Psychiatry faculty members Kirsten Aschbacher, PhD; Eli Puterman, PhD; and Elissa Epel, PhD, is the first to demonstrate that highly stressed people who eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food are more prone to health risks than low-stress people who eat the same amount of unhealthy food.
“Chronic stress can play an important role in influencing biology, and it’s critical to understand the exact pathways through which it works.” said Aschbacher, lead author of the study published online in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. “Many people think a calorie is a calorie, but this study suggests that two women who eat the same thing could have different metabolic responses based on their level of stress."
“The medical community is starting to appreciate how important chronic stress is in promoting and worsening early disease processes,” observed Aschbacher. “But there are no guidelines for ‘treating’ chronic stress. We need treatment studies to understand whether increasing stress resilience could reduce the metabolic syndrome, obesity or diabetes.”
Eli Puterman awarded Early Career Investigator Award from the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM)
Eli Puterman, PhD, has been chosen as the 2014 Early Career Investigator Award honoree by the Society of Behavorial Medicine (SBM). First awarded in 1986, the award recognizes outstanding achievement and contribution to the field of behavioral medicine by an early career investigator. Puterman will formally receive the honor during the SBM Annual Meeting this April in Philadelphia.
Founded in 1979, SBM is a multidisciplinary organization of clinicians, educators, and scientists dedicated to promoting the study of the interactions of behavior with biology and the environment, and the application of that knowledge to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities, and populations.
Psychology and Medicine scholar and faculty research explores emotional synchrony between mother and child
Nancy Adler, PhD awarded the Lloyd Holly Smith Award
Nancy Adler, PhD, has been chosen to receive a 2014 Lloyd Holly Smith Award for Exceptional Service to the School of Medicine in recognition of her leadership as a researcher and educator. In announcing her selection, School of Medicine dean Sam Hawgood noted, “Nancy’s leadership style is collegial and gentle, yet coupled with a remarkable mind, tenacious work ethic and steely discipline.”
Created in 2000, the Holly Smith Awards are named for Lloyd H. (Holly) Smith, Jr., professor and chairman emeritus of the UCSF Department of Medicine. Recipients of the award are deemed to exhibit those qualities best exemplified by Holly Smith: dedication to the School of Medicine, diversity in roles played, commitment to sustaining UCSF's position as a world-class institution, and accomplishing all of the above with humor and grace. Adler will be formally presented with her award at the School of Medicine’s annual Salute to Excellence event in May.
IN MEMORIAM - Frances Cohen, PhD
With deep sadness, we announce the death of our retired colleague Frances Cohen, PhD. She passed away on Saturday, May 28, 2014 in Berkeley surrounded by her family following complications from pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Cohen joined the department in 1976 and was a founding faculty member of the UCSF Health Psychology Program. As a researcher focused on psychoneuroimmunology, Dr. Cohen made a lasting impact on our understanding of stress, disease, and immunological function, and was a member of the American Psychological Association, the Academy of Behavioral Research Medicine, the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society, and the American Psychosomatic Society. Even following her retirement and recognition as a Professor Emerita, Dr. Cohen continued to be fully engaged and was a regular participant in seminars and faculty meetings. Beyond her intellectual interest in stress and coping, Dr. Cohen was a warm and caring person who took a personal interest in the lives and well-being of those around her, and she will be sorely missed.