Research Team

Paul J. Mills, PhD

Paul Mills, Ph.D.

Chopra Foundation Director Of Research

 
Dr. Paul Mills is a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health, Director of the Center of Excellence for Research and Training in Integrative Health, and Director of the Clinical Research Biomarker Laboratory at UC San Diego.
 
For more information on Dr. Paul Mills, please click here.

 
 

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Sheila Patel, M.D.

Chopra Center Medical Director

 
Dr. Sheila Patel is a board-certified family physician who earned her M.D. at the University of Wisconsin Medical School and completed her residency in family medicine at the Ventura County Medical Center in Southern California. For more than a decade, she practiced full-spectrum family medicine (from prenatal care and deliveries, to ER coverage, and inpatient and outpatient primary care for all ages) in a variety of settings. She continues to deliver primary care in an outpatient setting, as well as offering mind-body medical consultations as Director of Mind-Body Medical Group. She is also the Medical Director of the Chopra Center and is part of the research team, overseeing the clinical aspects of research studies.
 
Dr. Patel’s integrative healing approach combines the best in conventional Western medicine with the wisdom of ancient healing traditions. Dr. Patel’s special interests include preventive medicine and mind-body medicine with an emphasis on Ayurveda. She has also taken additional continuing medical education courses in integrative medicine and has received further training in mindfulness-based stress reduction and functional medicine approaches to health.
 
“My practice has always focused on preventive medicine for all ages, as well as management of a wide variety of chronic and acute health conditions. I believe that the best way to achieve wellness is to integrate all of the knowledge available to us from modern conventional medicine as well as from traditional healing systems. I have particular interests in meditation and yoga, which I have practiced for many years,” she said.
 
“I have been interested in Ayurveda since I began my medical training at the University of Wisconsin, and was influenced early on by Dr. Deepak Chopra’s writings. Working at the Chopra Center allows me to blend the Vedic spiritual tradition of my childhood with the practice of medicine, which is both personally and professionally fulfilling. In addition, by participating on the research team, I have the opportunity to shed light on the mechanisms behind the transformation we see in our guests. It gives credibility and validation to Ayurvedic practices and gives us the language to describe the benefits to a larger scientific and medical audience.

 
 

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Christine Tara Peterson, Ph.D.

AHE, RYT

 
Dr. Christine Tara Peterson is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the UCSD Division of Preventative Medicine, a Research Scientist at the Chopra Foundation, and a Visiting Research Scientist at the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute. She received her PhD in Immunology and Microbiology from the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at the George Washington University School of Medicine where she studied the structure and function of the gut microbiome in sub-therapeutic antibiotic-induced obesity using metagenomics, metaproteomics, and metatranscriptomics methods. Dr. Peterson studies the gut microbiome in the context of cardiovascular disease and risk factors such as obesity and in a variety of therapeutic approaches including dietary, probiotic, Yoga-based, and Ayurvedic interventions. Her post-doctoral work will also include investigations on the effect of Yoga-based practices on the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis and self-directed stress regulation. Applying the wisdom revealed by the microbiome, Dr. Peterson is developing herbal and microbial medicines consisting of probiotics and combination therapies of probiotics, prebiotics and Ayurvedic herbs. She is fascinated by the connection of the microbiota to yoga, nutrition, consciousness, a broader definition of the self, and Ayurveda.
 
Dr. Peterson is also a dedicated Ashtanga Yoga practitioner, meditator, registered yoga teacher, and certified Ayurvedic health educator. She became interested in yoga while an undergraduate living near Swami Satchidananda’s Yogaville ashram. Since her first visits to this great Vedantic teacher’s ashram, she has included nutrition and Ayurveda in her yogic journey. Building upon herbal studies at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, she is a graduate of the California College of Ayurveda’s Ayurvedic Health Educator program and is currently a student in the Clinical Ayurvedic Practitioner program. As a Research Scientist for the Chopra Foundation performing Clinical Trials with Ayurvedic Interventions, she seeks to validate this ancient wisdom with modern scientific methodologies such as the tools of Systems Biology. To complement this clinical work, she is also a student of Jyotish and Vedic Medical Astrology with Dr. Brendan Feeley of the highly predictive Maharishi Jaimini lineage. Christine combines these areas of study to help others learn how to self-heal, obtain radiant health, and realize their full potential.

 
 

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Kathleen Wilson, M.S.

UCSD Clinical Research Coordinator

 
Kathleen Wilson works as a Clinical Research Coordinator for The University of California San Diego Department of Psychiatry. She is responsible for all aspects of clinical research from assisting with study design and implementation to subject recruitment, assessment and retention, database development and maintenance, and data analysis for scientific presentation and manuscript writing.
 
Kathleen began her career in clinical research in 2007 with UCSDs department of Family and Preventive Medicine. There she was involved with the WHEL Study, a study examining the effects of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption on breast cancer recurrence in early stage breast cancer survivors. Kathleen has also served as a leader for group behavior modification sessions for an intervention study aimed at weight loss in healthy adults. Additionally she has been involved in the coordination of various research projects including an intervention study intended for reducing blood pressure though exercise and healthy dietary modifications, a Tai Chi intervention study aimed at reducing heart failure symptom severity and improving mood, a longitudinal study exploring cardiac health and mood in over 400 individuals, and a gratitude intervention study examining the effects of gratitude journaling on biomarkers of health and mood. As part of the Tai Chi intervention study she developed, implemented, and taught a resistance band exercise course that served as a control group for this study. As part of the gratitude intervention Kathleen is working as part of a team attempting to qualitatively describe and analyze the journal writing of our study participants. In addition to clinical research Kathleen has been an adjunct Faculty member at the Art Institute of California San Diego for over seven years where she has taught courses in Human Physiology and Nutrition Science. Kathleen holds a Bachelor degree in Foods and Nutrition and a Master of Science in Nutrition Science from San Diego State University.

 
 

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Lizzy Weiss, B.A.

Chopra Foundation Research Associate/ Research Coordinator

 
Lizzy Weiss is a Psychology: Cognitive Science, graduate from the University of California, Irvine. She has always had a love and interest in psychology, the brain, and research. During Lizzy’s undergraduate experience, she was fortunate enough to work closely with Dr. James McGaugh on his research team studying “Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory”.
Dr. McGaugh’s research was featured on 60 Minutes in 2010 and again in a follow up feature at the beginning of 2014. While a student and research team-member, of Dr. McGaugh’s, Lizzy was the recipient of the Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Scholarship in 2011.
 
She looks forward to continuing her work in the field of brain and cognitive studies by applying her research and clinical skills to non-traditional approaches of medicine through the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. She is honored to be a part of the Chopra Center research team, and work in conjunction with scientists from University of California: San Diego, University of California: San Francisco, Scripps Translational Science Institute, Harvard University, Duke University, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.