Who is SEW?
Elissa Epel, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCSF, Associate Director of the Center for Health and Community, and co-founder and Co-Director of the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment (COAST). For the past 15 years, Dr. Epel has been studying effects of stress and hormones on metabolic outcomes in humans—food ingestion, macronutrient selection, and preferential storage of visceral vs. subcutaneous fat depots. She has received numerous awards for her work, such as the 2008 APA Early Career Award. She works closely with Drs. Adler and Laraia in running COAST and developing the research program on SES pathways to obesity, and collaborates with Drs. Havel and Laugero at UC Davis.
Nancy Adler, PhD, is Professor of Medical Psychology and Pediatrics at UCSF and vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. She is the Director and founder of the UCSF Center for Health and Community, a Co-Director of COAST, and Co-Directs one of the sites of the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program with UCB. Dr. Adler is a member of the Institute of Medicine and serves on the NIH Director's board of advisors. She has received the APA "Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology" award, as well as the Distinguished Science Award for the Application of Psychology. As Chair of the MacArthur Foundation Network on Socioeconomic Status (SES) and Health, she facilitates interdisciplinary research on mechanisms by which SES affects the onset and progression of disease. Dr. Adler contributes her expertise in how to span social, psychological, and biological levels of measurement, how to work collaboratively across campuses, and how to create a more cohesive intercampus training program.
Barbara Laraia, PhD, MPH, RD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF and a Co-Director of research at COAST. She is an expert in nutritional epidemiology and dietary and physical activity assessment. Dr. Laraia has focused on household food insecurity, stress, and the measurement of social-environmental indicators and the food environment for the past ten years. She has also studied how the psychological stress of living in a low socioeconomic neighborhood may affect birth outcomes, determinants of physical activity among pregnant women, and the influence of a lack of accessibility to grocery stores on the diet of pregnant women. Her ongoing research shows links between dysregulated eating behavior (high restraint) and food insecurity predicting weight gain during pregnancy. Dr. Laraia is a national leader in the area of food insecurity and obesity.
Mary Dallman, PhD, is a Professor Emerita of Physiology at UCSF and is one of the world experts on stress and metabolism, having pioneered the discoveries of how HPA axis regulation and metabolism are linked. She has deciphered the roles of stress induced glucocorticoid secretion on brain and feering behavior and the stress-damping role of pleasurable food intake on brain pituitary-adrenal responses to chronic stressors in rats. As Professor Emeritus, she remains active in mentoring and promoting training and research.
Lorrene Ritchie, PhD, MS, RD, is Director of Research at U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health. Dr. Ritchie obtained her doctorate in Nutrition at U.C. Berkeley and has worked at the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Center for Weight and Health for over a decade to promote the development of interdisciplinary, science-based and culturally relevant solutions to the obesity epidemic in children and families. Current research projects include evaluation of: nutrition environments in child care in California, dietary patterns, timing of eating and sleep duration in relation to obesity development in adolescent girls, infant feeding practices among WIC participants, and the impact of the Network's Power Play Campaign on the fruit and vegetable intakes of elementary school children.
Pat Crawford, DrPH, RD, is Director of the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health and Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Heal and the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Crawford was the Berkeley PI of the 10-year longitudinal NHLBI Growth & Health Study (NGHS), an epidemiologic study on the development of obesity in African American and white girls. She has extensive experience relating food insecurity to obesity. She is currently leading studies to impove food resources for low-income families. She is evaluating the impact of large scale community interventions in low income communities to create healthy food environments. She is widely published in the field of child obesity prevention and is co-author of Obesity: Dietary & Development Influences (CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2006). She serves on a number of advisory boards including the California Legislative Task Force on Diabetes & Obesity and the Institute of Medicine's Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention.
Kimber Stanhope received a M.S. in Nutrition Science and a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology from the University of California at Davis. She is currently an Associate Project Scientist in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of California at Davis. She has over 20 years of nutrition research experience, working first in the laboratory of Dr. Judith Stern and then with Dr. Peter Havel. During her 16-year association with Dr. Peter Havel, she has progressed from technician to scientist while working on over 150 research projects investigating the regulation of energy homeostasis and carbohydrate/lipid metabolism, and the involvement of endocrine systems in the pathophysiology of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in human subjects, primates, rodents and isolated adipocytes. She has lately focused her efforts investigating the effects of sugar consumption on the development of metabolic disease, utilizing well-controlled diet intervention studies in human subjects. The recent Stanhope and Havel investigations have definitively demonstrated that there are significant biologic and metabolic differences between fructose and glucose, with fructose consumption promoting the development of dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and visceral adiposity in older, overweight/obese subjects. The early results from their current investigation have demonstrated that LDL-cholesterol and other lipids associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease are increased in young normal weight and overweight men and women who consumed 25% of their caloric requirement as beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or with fructose. Dr. Stanhope’s long-term career goals are to continue to contribute significantly to the clinical research that will define the optimally healthy diet and delineate the mechanisms involved. She has over 50 peer-reviewed publications and has first-authored 6 review articles on the metabolic effects of sugar consumption. She also has 10 years experience as a public health educator, working as a Registered Dietitian with health clubs and health management organizations, and is the author of a children’s nutrition book.
Peter Havel, PhD, is Professor in the Departments of Molecular Biosciences and Nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Havel's research program investigates the regulation of secretion and the action of hormones involved in energy homeostasis and carbohydrate/lipid metabolism, and the involvement of endocrine systems in the pathophysiology of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Havel studies the nutritional factors such as high sugar and high fat foods that are common in low SES environments and those that people reach for in times of stress. He has published over 100 original papers reporting the results of his research on diabetes and obesity and more than 30 review articles and book chapters in this area.
Aric A. Prather received his PhD (2010) in Clinical and Biological & Health Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed his clinical training internship in Behavioral Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. Trained in the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), Aric’s research focuses on psychological, behavioral, and physiologic correlates of immune function, with particular emphasis on restorative processes (e.g. sleep) that may buffer the deleterious effects of stress on health. He is presently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar where he has expanded his research to include how larger social pressures (e.g. SES) shape biology (including telomeres) and health behaviors across the life span.
Eli Puterman, PhD, completed his undergraduate degrees in Physiology and Psychology in Montreal, Quebec, and his graduate training in Health Psychology at The University of British Columbia. Since his arrival at UCSF, he has focused his attention to the benefits of regular physical activity to those experiencing chronic stress in their lives. His work suggests that the stress-disease link can possibly be broken if people maintain a healthy physical activity regimen. For more information on exercise for optimal health, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Cindy Leung is a postdoctoral scholar in the Center for Health and Community in the School of Medicine at UCSF. She received her MPH from UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and her ScD in Nutrition and Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, with concentrations in public health nutrition and cardiovascular epidemiology. Her previous research has examined the relations of household food security and participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to dietary intake and obesity-related health outcomes of low-income Americans. Currently, she is investigating the associations between dietary patterns and cellular aging, the effects of household food security on stress and diet-related chronic disease, and the interactions between the neighborhood food environment and household food security on predicting dietary intake. More generally, Dr. Leung is interested in examining social and environmental determinants of dietary intake and diet-related health outcomes, and using scientific evidence to influence public policy to create healthier environments, particularly for vulnerable populations.
Dr. Laugero received a Bachelor's degree in biological science from California State University Fresno and a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California, Davis. As a National Research Service Award NIH Fellow, Dr. Laugero received his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco where he studied the interrelationships between chronic stress, neuroendocrine function, and energy metabolism. Subsequently, he spent 4 years in the biotechnology industry as a drug discovery scientist at Amylin Pharmaceuticals. His work, primarily during his tenure at UCSF, suggests a physiological basis for stress-related eating and, in 2006, Dr. Laugero joined the Western Human Nutrition Research Center translating his findings into human studies that aim to understand neurobehavioral aspects of eating behavior and develop nutrition based interventions that facilitate healthy eating patterns. Dr. Laugero is also adjunct faculty in the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis.
The overarching objective of Dr. Laugero’s research is to understand the physiological mechanisms that link emotion, eating behavior, and energy metabolism. Research studies are designed to test in children and adults 1) the interactions of psychosocial and metabolic regulation of eating behavior and physical activity and 2) the effects of nutrition and physical activity on the physiology of behavioral reactivity and function. Overall, studies currently being conducted and developed by the Laugero lab research team enlist functional brain imaging, metabolomics, neuroendocrine evaluation, and qualitative methods to 1) better understand factors that shape food choice, dietary patterns, and physical activity in children and adults of differing body composition and 2) assess interventions that facilitate healthy eating behavior.
Stephanie is a program assistant in the Center for Health and Community at the University of California, San Francisco. Stephanie provides administrative support as well as web site development and maintenance.