Elissa Epel is an Associate Professor at UCSF, in the department of Psychiatry. She is a psychology researcher who investigates the depths and intricacies of the mind-body connection. With her colleague Elizabeth Blackburn (Nobel Laureate, 2009) and team of collaborators, she has found that chronic psychological stress wears down the telomeres, the protective tips of chromosomes, around a decade earlier than expected. How we live, our everyday lifestyle choices, are related to telomeres, and telomeres in turn predict early disease and death. Epel is studying the social, psychological, and behavioral factors that accelerate vs. protect us from premature cellular aging. She also studies how stress affects eating behavior and metabolism. She is particularly interested in interventions that can change mindset, coping and cellular functioning.
Epel studied psychology and psychobiology at Stanford University, and clinical and health psychology at Yale University. She completed an NIMH funded postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF, where she has stayed on as faculty, in the Department of Psychiatry. Epel has received awards from the American Psychological Association, for her research conducted as a student (1996, 1998), a junior investigator (2005), and more recently, the Early Career Award (2008). She also was awarded the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research Neal Miller Young Investigator Award, and the International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology’s Young Investigator Award. She is also a co-founder of Telome Health, Inc.
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