Elissa S. Epel, PhD - Contact Information

Elissa S. Epel, PhD

Title: Associate Professor in Residence


Yale University, PhD, Psychology

Postgraduate Training:

Palo Alto VA Hospital, Psychology Intern; UCSF, NIMH Psychology & Medicine Program, Postdoctoral Fellowship

Biography Summary:

Elissa Epel is an associate professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry. She is also a faculty member in the Health Psychology Postdoctoral Program, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Postdoctoral Scholars Program, and a leader of the new UCSF Center on Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment (COAST).  She has longstanding interests in social and psychobiological stress mechanisms, and impact of stress physiology on food intake, insulin resistance, obesity, and premature aging at the cellular level. Her focus is on psychoneuroendocrine mediation — how stress-induced hormonal dysregulation may mediate relationships between stressor appraisal and metabolically-related outcomes (food ingestion, insulin resistance, visceral fat distribution, cell aging). Her primary study is on family caregivers, and attempts to understand, from a psychobiological and genetic perspective, why some people are vulnerable and others are resilient to the chronic stress of caregiving. She collaborates with Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn and Jue Lin to understand how stress can affect the telomere/telomerase maintenance system. Together with colleagues Drs. Owen Wolkowitz, Sindy Mellon, Victor Reus, and Craig Nelson, she leads an LPPI joint Psychoneuroendocrinology Laboratory Group. She also leads the Mind and Biology: Mechanisms and Models monthly Seminar, with Drs. Margaret Kemeny and Owen Wolkowitz. With her collaborators, she is also involved in trials examining effects of stress reduction on immune system aging in HIV, and on fat distribution. In 2005 she was awarded the Neal Miller New Investigator award and an APA Health Psychology award for demonstrating novel links between stress and stress arousal with markers of cellular aging.

Clinical Expertise:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, stress reduction, mindfulness meditation, mood disorders

Educational Expertise:

behavioral medicine, mind-body interactions

Research Areas:

cell aging, psychoneuroendocrinology, stress and coping, insulin resistant syndrome (aka Metabolic Syndrome)

Campus Location: Laurel Heights

Publications on PubMed »

Aging, Metabolism, & Emotions (AME) Laboratory


Leadership in research, education, psychiatric care and public service