CBM Research Training:  Faculty Research Interests


CBM Research Training Program             How to Apply



CBM Research Training Program

SWAN Study

Faculty & Staff

Home Page













Training Faculty Research Interests


Karen A. Matthews, Ph.D.: Program Director
Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Epidemiology & Psychology

Dr. Matthews is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical & Translational Science.  Her current research focuses on determinants and consequences of determinants of cardiovascular disease risk at key points across the life span, namely puberty and menopause.  She is particularly interested in how these determinants might vary by ethnicity/race, socioeconomic status, and gender.  She uses both experimental and observation approaches to disentangling the social, psychological, and biological factors and their interplay.  Her current research concerns trajectories of risk through the menopausal transition in the Study of Women's Health across the Nation (SWAN) and on the childhood experiences that impact cardiovascular risk in mid-life, with one project focusing on parenting and another on childhood depression.   She has served as the Director of the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program, since its inception in 1983.    

Matthews KA, Boylan JM, Jakubowski KP, Cundiff JM, Lee L, Pardini DA, Jennings JR.  Socioeconomic status and parenting during adolescence in relation to ideal cardiovascular health in Black and White men.  Health Psychol. 2017.

Matthews KA, Chang Y, Bromberger JT, Karvonen-Gutierrez CA, Kravitz HM, Thurston RC, Karas Montez J. Childhood socioeconomic circumstances, inflammation, and hemostasis among midlife women: Study of Women's Health across the Nation (SWAN). Psychosomatic Med. 78(3):311-8, 2016. 

Boylan JM, Jennings JR, Matthews KA.  Childhood socioeconomic status and cardiovascular reactivity and recovery among black and white men: Mitigating effects of psychological resources.  Health Psychol. 35(9):957-66, 2016.

Matthews KA, Pantesco EJ.  Sleep characteristics and cardiovascular risk in children and adolescents: An enumerative review. Sleep Med. 18:36-49, 2016.


Matthew F. Muldoon. M.D.: Post-doctoral Program Co-Director
Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Psychology
Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Director, Hypertension Center, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

Dr. Muldoon's research involves study of the impact of psychosocial and behavioral factors on cardiovascular disease risk, as well as the impact of cardiovascular disease risk factors on cognitive functioning and mood.  He has a particular interest in hypertension and lipid disorders and their behavioral, nutritional and pharmacologic treatment. Most recently, Dr. Muldoon's research has expanded to include work on social media in hypertension self-management (mHealth). His study designs include laboratory-based experiments in humans, cross-sectional studies, randomized clinical trials, and effectiveness/implementation research.

Muldoon MF, Rutan GH.  Defining hypertension: never as simple as it seems.   J Hypertension 2003;21:473-474.

Muldoon MF, Erickson KI, Goodpaster BH, Jakicic JM, Conklin SM, Sekikawa A, Yao JK, Manuck SB. Concurrent physical activity modifies the association between n3 long-chain fatty acids and cardiometabolic risk in midlife adults. Journal of Nutrition 2013;143(9):1414-20.   Epub 2013 Jul 24. PMCID: PMC3743273.

Barger SD, Cribbett MR, Muldoon MF. Participant-Reported Health Status Predicts Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Independent of Established and Nontraditional Biomarkers: Evidence From a Representative US Sample. Journal of the American Heart Association 2016;5:e003741. PMCID: PMC5079034

Ginty A, Muldoon MF, Kuan CHK, Kamarck TK, Jennings JR, Manuck SB, Gianaros PJ. Omega-3 supplementation and the neural correlates of negative affect and impulsivity: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in midlife adults. Psychosomatic Medicine, in press.


Rebecca C. Thurston, Ph.D.: Post-doctoral Program Associate Co-Director
Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Director, Women's Biobehavioral Health Laboratory

Throughout her career at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Thurston has demonstrated a passion for research and training the next generation of academic researchers. Her research focuses on menopause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women, two prevalent and inter-related health issues that can have a profound impact on women's lives.  In one line of her research, she examines the physiology, management, and sequelea of menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and sleep problems. Hot flashes are reported by over 70% of women, and treatments for these hot flashes are limited. Dr. Thurston’s work shows hot flashes to be a potential midlife marker of underlying risk for CVD, the leading cause of death in women. Sleep problems are also common during midlife for women; by some estimates over half of women transitioning through the menopause report problems with sleep. Dr. Thurston’s research shows poor or short sleep to be important to women’s cardiovascular health. Dr. Thurston is extending her research to the brain, examining how menopausal symptoms relate to neurocognitive health in women. Further, Dr. Thurston considers psychosocial predictors of CVD in women, including how factors such as low socioeconomic status, positive affect, or trauma and harassment may uniquely impact women's cardiovascular health. Finally, Dr. Thurston is committed to developing, testing, and disseminating novel behavioral interventions to improve quality of life and reduce CVD risk as women age.

Thurston RC, Chang Y, Barinas-Mitchell E, Jennings JR , Landsittel DP, Santoro N, von Känel R, Matthews KA. Menopausal hot flashes and carotid intima media thickness among midlife women. Stroke. 2016 Dec; 47(12): 2910-5. PMCID: PMC5134903 

Thurston RC, Chang Y, von Känel R, Barinas-Mitchell E, Jennings JR, Hall MH, Santoro N, Buysse DJ, Matthews KA. Sleep characteristics and carotid atherosclerosis among midlife women. Sleep. 2017 Feb; 40(2): zsw052.  PMID: 28364498

Thurston RC, Barinas-Mitchell E, von Känel R, Chang Y, Koenen KC, Matthews KA. Trauma exposure and endothelial function among midlife women. Menopause. 2017 Dec 4 [Epub ahead of print]

 Thurston lab photo

Stephen B. Manuck, Ph.D.: Pre-doctoral Program Co-Director
Distinguished University Professor of Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine

Dr. Manuck is Distinguished Professor of Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine. His research addresses behavioral factors in heart disease; neurogenetic influences on personality and cardiometabolic risk; and psychosocial predictors of midlife aging. His cardiovascular research includes the study of psychophysiologic and behavioral antecedents of heart and vascular disease and neurobiologic bases of CVD risk factor aggregation and covariation.  The Behavioral Physiology Laboratory, which Dr. Manuck directs, also conducts clinical trials experiments in collaboration with Dr. Muldoon to identify behavioral sequelae of interventions aimed at the prevention or amelioration of coronary disease (e.g., antihypertensive and cholesterol lowering therapies; omega-3 fatty acid supplementation). Dr. Manuck also directs the University's Adult Health and Behavior (AHAB) registry, an institutional resource for the longitudinal study of individual differences in behavioral, neurocognitive, and genetic factors and health practices germane to cardiometabolic risk and diseases of aging.  Dr. Manuck's projects are collaborative efforts with other training grant faculty (Drs. Gianaros, Jennings, Kamarck, Marsland, Matthews, and Muldoon) as well as other investigators both inside and outside of the Pittsburgh community.  Dr. Manuck has served as Chair of the graduate programs in Clinical Psychology (1982-1985) and in Biological and Health Psychology (1996-2004), and as a Co-Director of the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program since 1983.

Cohen, S., Gianaros, P.J. & Manuck, S.B. (2016).  A stage model of stress and disease.  Perspectives on Psychology Science, 11, 456-463. 

John-Henderson, N.A., Kamarck, T.W., Muldoon, M.F., & Manuck, S.B.  (2016).  Early life family conflict, social interactions, and carotid artery intima-media thickness in adulthood.  Psychosomatic Medicine, 78, 319-326. 

Wong, P.M., Hasler, B.P., Kamarck, T.W., Muldoon, M.F., & Manuck, S.B.  (2015).  Social jetlag, chronotype, and cardiometabolic risk.  Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 100, 4612-4620. 

Dermody, S.S., Wright, A.G., Cheong, J., Miller, K.A., Muldoon, M.F., Flory, J.D., Gianaros, P.J., Marsland, A.L., & Manuck S.B.  (2015).  Personality correlates of midlife cardiometabolic risk:  The explanatory role of higher-order factors of the Five-Factor Model.  Journal of Personality, 84(6), 765-776.

Manuck, S.B., & McCaffery, J.M. (2014).  Gene-environment interaction.  Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 41-70.

McCaffery, J.M., Marsland, A.L., Strohacker, K., Muldoon, M.F., & Manuck, S.B. (2012).  Factor structure underlying components of allostatic load.  PLoS One, 7(10), e347246.


Peter J. Gianaros, Ph.D.: Pre-doctoral Program Associate Co-Director
Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry

Dr. Gianaros conducts research on neurobiology of psychological stress, emotion, and cardiovascular health disparities.  This focus encompasses studies of how the brain (i) regulates and represents autonomic, immune, and cardiovascular stress responses, (ii) influences and is influenced by biological and behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and (iii) links social inequalities to health over the lifespan. Research methods include multimodal brain imaging and psychophysiology. Courses taught include cardiovascular psychophysiology, social health disparities, and health neuroscience.  

Gianaros PJ, Jennings JR (in press). Host in the machine: A neurobiological perspective on stress and cardiovascular disease. American Psychologist.

 Gianaros PJ, Kuan D C-H, Marsland AL, Sheu LK, Hackman DA, Miller KG, Manuck SB (2017). Community socioeconomic disadvantage in midlife relates to cortical morphology via neuroendocrine and cardiometabolic pathways. Cerebral Cortex, 27, 460–473.

Gianaros PJ, Sheu LK, Uyar F, Koushik J, Jennings JR, Wager TD, Singh A, Verstynen T (2017). A brain phenotype for stressor-evoked cardiovascular reactivity. Journal of the American Heart Association. http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/6/9/e006053

 Ginty AT, Kraynak TE, Fisher JP, Gianaros PJ (2017) Cardiovascular and autonomic reactivity to psychological stress: Neurophysiological substrates and links to cardiovascular disease. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical, 207, 2-9.

 Gianaros PJ & Wager TD (2015). Brain body pathways linking psychological stress and physical health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24, 313-321. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535428/

Gianaros lab

Emma Barinas-Mitchell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Barinas-Mitchell's research focuses on the application of subclinical vascular measures in the study of the natural history and prevention of CVD. As Co-Director (2006-2012) and Director (December 2012-present) of the University of Pittsburgh Ultrasound Research Lab (URL), she has collaborated on the application of early markers of vascular aging for numerous NIH-funded observational and intervention studies, including study design and implementation, oversight of collection of primary and secondary vascular outcome measures, data management and analyses of these vascular measures, and interpretation of these data for presentation and peer-reviewed publications. She is also actively involved in her own research investigating the role of obesity and related cardiometabolic disturbances in the development and progression of subclinical CVD, as a co-investigator on SWAN (U01AG012553), the multi-centered study of the menopausal transition, and SAVE (R01HL077525), the weight loss lifestyle intervention trial in obese/overweight adults. Dr. Barinas-Mitchell is one of the Co-Directors of the NHLBI funded CVD Epidemiology T32 training program and actively mentors students at the Master's and Doctoral level.


Jorge A, Lertratanakul A, Lee J, Pearce W, McPherson D, Thompson T, Barinas-Mitchell E, Ramsey-Goldman R. Depression and Progression of Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Arthritis care & research. 2017; 69(1):5-11. NIHMSID: NIHMS804337 PubMed [journal] PMID: 27390248, PMCID: PMC5191977


Thurston RC, Chang Y, von Känel R, Barinas-Mitchell E, Jennings JR, Hall MH, Santoro N, Buysse DJ, Matthews KA. Sleep Characteristics and Carotid Atherosclerosis among Midlife Women. Sleep. 2016; PubMed [journal] PMID: 27855752


Thurston RC, Chang Y, Barinas-Mitchell E, von Känel R, Jennings JR, Santoro N, Landsittel DP, Matthews KA. Child Abuse and Neglect and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease Among Midlife Women. Psychosomatic medicine. 2016; PubMed [journal] PMID: 27763988


Thurston RC, El Khoudary SR, Derby CA, Barinas-Mitchell E, Lewis TT, McClure CK, Matthews KA. Low socioeconomic status over 12 years and subclinical cardiovascular disease: the study of women's health across the nation. Stroke. 2014; 45(4):954-60. NIHMSID: NIHMS562067 PubMed [journal] PMID: 24578209, PMCID: PMC3981101


Cynthia Conklin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Research in my laboratory focuses on investigating subjective, physiological, and behavioral reactivity to drug-related cues in adult smokers. Current studies include examining the roles of negative mood, personalized cues, classical conditioning, and operant responding in the perpetuation of smoking behavior and relapse. Specific goals of this work are to develop new methods for studying the impact of drug-related stimuli on smokers' cue reactivity and improving cue-exposure therapy through the application of animal laboratory extinction techniques to the development of human addiction treatments.

Conklin CA, Salkeld RP, Perkins KA, Robin N. Do People Serve as Cues to Smoke? Nicotine Tob Res. 2013 Jul 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Conklin CA, Parzynski CS, Salkeld RP, Perkins KA, Fonte CA. Cue reactivity as a predictor of successful abstinence initiation among adult smokers. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2012 Dec;20(6):473-8.

Perkins KA, Karelitz JL, Giedgowd GE, Conklin CA. Negative mood effects on craving to smoke in women versus men. Addict Behav. 2013 Feb;38(2):1527-31

Esa Matius Davis, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.F.P.
Associate Professor of Medicine and Clinical and Translational Science


Kirk Erickson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Erickson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Faculty Member for the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh.  Dr. Erickson's research has involved executing multiple randomized trials examining the impact of physical activity on brain health and function in numerous populations with some of his current research focusing on the impact of physical exercise on brain health in women with early diagnosed breast cancer and another study using African dance as a means of exercise in African Americans. Recently, Dr. Erickson received funding to conduct a multisite study to test whether exercise improves cognitive function in older adults.  The main message from all of this research is that cognitive function, brain morphology and brain function remain modifiable throughout the lifespan and that physical activity training can be advantageous to brain health for people of all ages. In addition to his research, Dr. Erickson runs a laboratory of graduate and post-doc students to investigate these questions. He takes a hands-on approach to guide these students in their careers as up-and-coming researchers.  Dr. Erickson has served on 12 Master's degree committees, 17 comprehensive exam committees and 24 PhD committees and continues to mentor post-doc scientists in several capacities.  Dr. Erickson has also published > 150 articles on cognitive and brain changes in conjunction with physical activity and exercise trials. 

Erickson KI, Voss, MW, Prakash, RS, Basak, C, Szabo, A, Chaddock, L, Kim, JS, Heo,S, Alves, H, White, SM, Wojcicki, TR, Mailey, E, Vieira, VJ, Martin, SA, Pence, BP, Woods, JA, McAuley, E, Kramer, AF. (2011).  Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108: 3017-22.

Oberlin, LE, Verstynen, TD, Burzynska, AZ, Voss, MW, Prakash, RS, Chaddock-Heyman, L, Wong, C, Fanning, J, Awick, E, Gothe, N, Phillips, SM, Mailey, E, Ehlers, D, Olson, E, Wojcicki, T, McAuley, E, Kramer, AF, Erickson, KI.  (2016).  White matter microstructure mediates the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and spatial working memory in older adults.  NeuroImage, 131: 91-101

Stillman, CM, Lopez, OL, Becker, JT, Kuller, LH, Mehta, PD, Tracy, RP, Erickson, KI. (in press). Physical activity reduces plasma β amyloid levels and decreases risk for cognitive impairment in older adults: Longitudinal results from the Cardiovascular Health Study.  Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Daniel E. Forman, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Chair, Section of Geriatric Cardiology

Dr. Forman is a Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Geriatric Cardiology Section at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Divisions of Cardiology and Geriatrics). He is also Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and GeroFit at The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and a Physician Scientist in the VA’s Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center. His research includes a variety of initiatives to improve physical function in older cardiovascular patients, including novel pharmacological agents (e.g. nitrites) and novel exercise modalities focus on underlying (sub)cellular biology and function ramifications, as well as innovative approaches to cardiac rehabilitation and prehabilitation that focus on processes of care. He is funded by the NIH, PCORI, and the Veterans Healthcare Administration. Dr. Forman is the Chair of the American Heart Association’s Older Populations Committee in the Council on Clinical Cardiology, and was the inaugural Chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Geriatric Cardiology Section.

Forman DE, Arena R, Boxer R, Dolansky MA, Eng JJ, Fleg JL, Haykowsky M, Jahangir A, Kaminsky LA, Kitzman DW, Lewis EF, Myers J, Reeves GR, Shen W-K; on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research; and Stroke Council. Prioritizing functional capacity as a principal end point for therapies oriented to older adults with cardiovascular disease: a scientific statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135:e894-e918. PMID: 28336790

Forman DE, Santanasto AJ, Boudreau RM, Harris T, Kanaya AM, Satterfield S, Simonsick EM, Butler J, Kizer JR, Newman AM. Impact of Incident Heart Failure on Body Composition Over Time in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study Population. Circ Heart Fail. 2017;10(9). PMID: 28899988

Bell SP, Orr NM, Dodson JA, Rich MW, Wenger NK, Blum K, Harold JG, Tinetti M, Maurer MS, Forman DE. What to Expect from the Evolving Field of Geriatric Cardiology. J Am Coll of Cardiol. 2015;66:1286-99. PMID: 26361161.

Forman DE, Sanderson B, Josephson R, Raikhelkar J, Bittner V. Heart Failure as a Newly Approved Diagnosis for Cardiac Rehabilitation: Challenges and Opportunities. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65:2652-9.  PMID: 26088305.

Afilalo J, Alexander KP, Mack M, Maurer M, Green P, Allen L, Popma JJ, Ferruci L, Forman DE. Frailty assessment in the cardiovascular care of older adults. J of Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63:747- 62.  PMID: 24291279.

Martica Hall, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science

Dr. Hall's research bridges two traditionally independent fields, biobehavioral medicine and sleep medicine.  Biobehavioral medicine research has made important discoveries regarding the pathways through which psychological, social and environmental factors influence health and functioning.  Yet, until recently, this research has focused almost exclusively on factors measured during wakefulness.  Similarly, sleep research has not systematically considered the influence of psychosocial or environmental factors on normal sleep or on the pathogenesis and clinical course of primary sleep disorders.  Dr. Hall's research program integrates theoretical concepts and methods from both fields in order to address fundamental questions about stress, sleep, and their consequences to health and functioning across the lifespan, with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease.  During the course of this research, she has developed innovative methods for enhancing the ecological validity and reliability of sleep studies and the assessment of nocturnal physiology during sleep.  Currently, Dr. Hall's two main projects are focused on (1) sleep's role in the prospective link between major depression and cardiovascular disease, and (2) the impact of psychological stress on the neurobiology of insomnia.  Dr. Hall and her trainees also work actively on data derived from archival datasets, including data generated by her own studies as well as studies conducted with local, national and international colleagues.

Hall M, Okun ML, Sowers MF, Matthews KA, Kravitz HM, Hardin K, Buysse DJ, Bromberger JT, Owens JF, Karpov I, Sanders MH.   Sleep is associated with the metabolic syndrome in a multi-ethnic cohort of mid-life women: The SWAN Sleep Study.   Sleep 35(6):783-79, 2012.

Irish LA, Dougall AL, Delahanty DL, and Hall M: The impact of sleep complaints on physical health and immune outcomes in rescue workers: A 1-year prospective study.   Psychosomatic Medicine,   75(2):196-201, 2013.

Kline CE, Irish LA, Krafty RT, Sternfeld B, Kravitz HM, Buysse DJ, Bromberger JT, Dugan SA, Hall M. Consistently high sports/exercise activity is associated with better sleep quality, continuity and depth in midlife women: The SWAN Sleep Study.   Sleep, 36(9):1279-88.


John M. Jakicic, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity

Dr. Jakicic is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Jakicic is also the Director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Jakicic is funded by the National Institutes of Health and his research focuses primarily on the role of exercise in weight control. Specifically he has received funding to examine strategies for improving exercise adherence and to examine dose-response effects of exercise on long-term weight control. Dr. Jakicic has numerous publications and presentations in prestigious journals in the area of physical, weight control, and chronic disease including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Dr. Jakicic is known for his research in the areas of the exercise and long-term weight control, the use of intermittent exercise to promote adoption and maintenance of physical activity in overweight adults, the use of behavioral strategies to improve long-term outcomes, and how these outcomes influence the prevention and treatment of chronic medical conditions in children and adults.

Unick JL, Michael JC, Jakicic JM.   Affective responses to exercise in overweight women: Initial insight and possible influence on energy intake. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2012 Sep 1;13(5):528-532.

Kuna ST, Reboussin DM, Borradaile KE, Sanders MH, Millman RP, Zammit G, Newman AB, Wadden TA, Jakicic JM, Wing RR, Pi-Sunyer FX, Foster GD; Sleep AHEAD Research Group of the Look AHEAD Research Group. Long-term effect of weight loss on obstructive sleep apnea severity in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Sleep. 2013 May 1;36(5):641-649A.

Look AHEAD Research Group, Wing RR, Bolin P, Brancati FL, Bray GA, Clark JM, Coda M, Crow RS, Curtis JM, Egan CM, Espeland MA, Evans M, Foreyt JP, Ghazarian S, Gregg EW, Harrison B, Hazuda HP, Hill JO, Horton ES, Hubbard VS, Jakicic JM, Jeffery RW, Johnson KC, Kahn SE, Kitabchi AE, Knowler WC, Lewis CE, Maschak-Carey BJ, Montez MG, Murillo A, Nathan DM, Patricio J, Peters A, Pi-Sunyer X, Pownall H, Reboussin D, Regensteiner JG, Rickman AD, Ryan DH, Safford M, Wadden TA, Wagenknecht LE, West DS, Williamson DF, Yanovski SZ. Cardiovascular effects of intensive lifestyle intervention in type 2 diabetes.   N Engl J Med. 2013 Jul 11;369(2):145-54.

Janney CA, Fagiolini A, Swartz HA, Jakicic JM, Holleman RG, Richardson CR. Are adults with bipolar disorder active? Objectively measured physical activity and sedentary behavior using accelerometry.   J Affect Disord. 2013 Sep 18.


J. Richard Jennings, PhD.
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Clinical Translational Medicine

Dr. Jennings is a psychophysiologist with interests in cardiovascular disease, brain imaging, and autonomic nervous system regulation.   His current major project asks whether brain signs of hypertension emerge prior to the diagnosis of hypertension. Individuals with marginally high blood pressure are evaluated with brain imaging, medical/health habit queries, and neuropsychological testing.  They are then followed for two years to see if signs of central dysfunction emerge prior to frank peripheral hypertension.  Dr.Jennings also is a collaborating investigator on a program project (Dr. Manuck, PI) examining how negative affect creates heart disease risk though mediators such as brain function, personality type, and peripheral autonomic function.   He similarly collaborates with Dr. Matthews on a project focusing on the current cardiovascular risk due to autonomic reactivity and health habits of a sample of men studied longitudinally since childhood.  The project seeks to determine whether the life history of this men indicates any particular time, experience, or trait that modulates cardiovascular risk. Finally, Dr. Jennings has an interest in the aging process independent of overt disease and uses his experience in cognitive psychology to examine this. A major problem of aging is falls that then disable a person.  These can be attributed to a loss of postural control.   In collaboration with Drs. Redfern and Furman, Dr. Jennings has found that simple information processing tasks require some of the same central processing that is required to maintain balance in the face of challenges. Ongoing work is determining exactly what increases or decreased this interference between postural control and cognitive function.

Jennings, J.R., Allen, B., Gianaros, P.J., Thayer, J.F., & Manuck, S.B.:  Focusing neurovisceral integration:  Cognition, heart rate variability, and cerebral blood flow.  Psychophysiology, 52(2):214-224, 2015. DOI: 10.1111/psyp.12319

Allen, B., Jennings, J.R., Gianaros, P.J., Thayer, J., & Manuck, S.B.:  Resting high-frequency heart rate variability is related to resting brain perfusion.  Psychophysiology, 52(2):277-287, 2015. | DOI: 10.1111/psyp.12321

Lockwood KG, Jennings JR, Matthews KA. Psychophysiological correlates of systemic inflammation in black and white men. Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Aug 24. pii: S0889-1591(16)30392-0. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.08.013.  

Allen B, Muldoon MF, Gianaros PJ, Jennings JR. Higher Blood Pressure Partially Links Greater Adiposity to Reduced Brain White Matter Integrity. Am J Hypertens. 2016 Sep;29(9):1029-37. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpw026.

Jennings JR, Muldoon MF, Ryan C, Gach HM, Heim A, Sheu LK, Gianaros PJ. Prehypertensive Blood Pressures and Regional Cerebral Blood Flow Independently Relate to Cognitive Performance in Midlife. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017 Mar 17;6(3). pii: e004856. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.116.004856

Jennings JR, Pardini DA, Matthews KA. Heart rate, health, and hurtful behavior. Psychophysiology. 2017 Mar;54(3):399-408. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12802. Epub 2016 Dec 27.PMID:28026867

CV Psychophys class

Thomas W. Kamarck, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Chair, Biological and Health Program, Department of Psychology

Dr. Kamarck's research examines the role of psychosocial factors in cardiovascular disease using laboratory and field- based methods. One of the primary tools we employ involves ambulatory or ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methods, as a means of examining a) how behavioral and biological processes involved with psychosocial stress may unfold in real time and in the natural environment, and b) the mechanisms by which these processes may contribute to cardiovascular disease pathophysiology. Data from our lab are consistent with the possibility that chronic stressors affect disease risk by altering our daily experience, and that cumulative momentary behavioral and biological markers of stress may be more powerful indicators of stressor effects on our body than are attempts to measure the distal circumstances that trigger them.

One longstanding interest involves understanding the extent to which daily social interaction characteristics account for the well documented effects of social relationships on cardiovascular health. Again, we are using EMA methods in order to advance our knowledge in this area. We are completing a 5-year EMA-based study designed to examine the daily life social interaction processes that may help us understand how being socially integrated (occupying multiple social roles) may impact our affect, behavior, and physiology during daily life, as a means of understanding the well-documented links between social integration and premature mortality.

Kamarck, T. W. (2012, April). Psychosocial stress and cardiovascular disease: An exposure science perspective. Psychological Science Agenda, 26(4). Retrieved April 19, 2012.

Joseph, N.T., Kamarck, T.W., Muldoon, M.F., & Manuck, S.B. Daily marital interaction quality and carotid artery intima medial thickness in healthy middle aged adults. Psychosomatic Medicine, 76, 347-35, 2014..PMCID: PMC4274937.

John-Henderson NA, Kamarck TW, Muldoon MF, Manuck SB. Early life family conflict, social interactions and carotid artery intima-media thickness in adulthood. Psychosomatic Medicine, 78, 319-326, 2016. PMCID: PMC4844808.

Bajaj, A., John-Henderson, NA., Cundiff, J.M, Marsland, A.L., Manuck, S.B., Kamarck, T.W. (2016) Daily social interactions, close relationships, and systemic inflammation in two samples: Health middle-aged and Older adults. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 58, 152-164.


Jordan F. Karp, M.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Anesthesiology, and Clinical and Translational Science


Michele D. Levine, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology

Dr. Levine, a licensed clinical psychologist, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. Her research focuses on the perinatal period, the period from pregnancy through the first postpartum year, which has important implications for the health and well-being of women and their families. Dr. Levine and her group are particularly interested in understanding relationships among mood, eating, weight, smoking and other health behaviors during and after pregnancy and in developing, adapting, and evaluating interventions to address the needs of women and families during the perinatal period. Recent projects have focused on relationships among depressive symptoms, weight concerns and postpartum smoking, treatment to prevent smoking relapse postpartum, the prevention of weight gain among young women, and, the link between aberrant eating behaviors, depressive symptoms and gestational weight gain. In addition, Dr. Levine is dedicated to training the next generation of clinical scientists. She co-directs the Clinical Psychology Internship Program at WPIC, and a T32 fellowship program affiliated with that internship and has been involved in local training grants and other national initiatives related to the training of predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees.

Levine MD, Cheng Y, Marcus MD, Kalarchian MA.  Relapse to smoking and postpartum weight retention among women who quit smoking during pregnancy.  Obesity. 2012; 20:457-459. PMCID: PMC4076786

Levine MD, Cheng Y, Marcus MD, Kalarchian MA, Emery RL.  Preventing postpartum smoking relapse: A Randomized Clinical Trial.  JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176:443-52. PMID:26998789.

Levine MD, Cheng Y, Marcus MD & Emery RL. Psychiatric disorders and gestational weight gain among women who quit smoking during pregnancy J Psychosom Res. 2015; 78(5):504-8. PMCID: PMC4380755

Kolko RP, Emery RL, Cheng Y, Levine MD.  Do psychiatric disorders or measures of distress moderate response to postpartum relapse prevention interventions?  Nic Tob Res. 2017:19:615-22.

 Levine Lab

Marsha D. Marcus, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology                                                                           
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Dr. Marcus' research interests include the development of pediatric obesity interventions; the relation among eating behavior, psychiatric disorder and obesity; the treatment of eating disorders; and lifestyle interventions to prevent or treat physical illness. Most recently she has led trials focusing on the management of youth with obesity and diabetes, and treating anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Currently, Dr. Marcus is a site co-investigator of a multi-site trial longitudinal follow-up study focusing on  a well-characterized cohort of youth with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Marcus also is involved projects focusing on understanding gestational weight gain and treating obesity during the perinatal period. Finally, she is a co-investigator on a behavioral weight management trial designed mitigate risk for type 2 diabetes in seniors.

Marcus MD, Wilfley DE, El ghormli L, Zeitler P, Linder B, Hirst K, Ievers-Landis CE, van Buren DJ, Walders-Abramson N. Weight change in the management of youth-onset type 2 diabetes: the TODAY clinical trial experience. Pediatr Obes. 2016 May 10. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12148. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27161901

Kolko RP, Emery RL, Marcus MD, Levine MD. Loss of control over eating prior to and during early pregnancy among community women with overweight and obesity. Int J Eat Disord, in press. PMID: 27662100

Zerwas SC, Watson HJ, Hofmeier SM, Levine MD, Hamer RM, Crosby RD, Runfola CD, Peat CM, Shapiro JR, Zimmer B, Moessner M, Kordy H, Marcus MD,* Bulik CM. A randomized controlled trial of online chat and face-to-face group therapy for bulimia nervosa. Psychother Psychosom. 2017;86(1):47-53.  PMID: 27883997 (*Senior author with Dr. Bulik).

Levenson CA, Zerwas S, Calebs B, Forbush K, Kordy H, Watson H, Hofmeier S, Levine M, Crosby RD, Peat C, Runfola CD, Zimmer B, Moesner M, Marcus MD,* Bulik CM. The core symptoms of bulimia nervosa, anxiety and depression: a network analysis, J Abnorm Psychol, 2017; http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/abn0000254. (*Senior author with Dr. Bulik).

Anna Marsland, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Marsland's work focuses on whether and how psychosocial factors influence immune function and the onset and course of immune-related diseases. She currently is conducting research on the influence of stress and personality on primary and secondary immune response to vaccination with a novel antigen; the role of immune responses to acute laboratory stress in the etiology of susceptibility to infectious disease, the role of inflammation as a possible risk factor for the development of metabolic syndrome; and the impact of depression on innate inflammatory pathways possibly involved in the pathogenesis of chronic disease. In addition, she also studies the psychosocial and physical benefit of stress management/coping skills interventions for families of children newly diagnosed with cancer and for children with asthma.

Prather, A.A., Carroll, J.E., Fury, J.M., McDade, K.K., Ross, D., & Marsland, A.L. (in press). Gender differences in stimulated cytokine production following acute psychological stress. Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Ewing, L.J., Long, K., Rotondi, A., Howe C., Bill, L., & Marsland, A.L. Brief report: A Pilot Study of a Web-based Resource for Families of Children with Cancer. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 2009 34:523-529.

Marsland, A.L., Prather, A.A., Petersen, K.L., Cohen, S., & Manuck, S.B. Antagonistic Characteristics are Positively Associated with Inflammatory Markers Independently of Trait Negative Emotionality. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2008 22:753-61.


Kathleen M. McTigue, MD, MPH, MS
Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Director, Clinical Scientist Track, Internal Medicine Residency
Associate Director for Research, International Scholars Track, Internal Medicine Residency


Kenneth A. Perkins, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Epidemiology

Our research on nicotine dependence focuses largely on two broad themes. One emphasizes translational studies drawing on preclinical findings to examine acute effects of nicotine (and cigarette smoking) that may explain the persistence of tobacco dependence in humans, and the second is aimed at improving clinical treatments for smoking cessation. Several projects address both themes, as basic research findings are then often followed by evaluation of their implications for clinical treatment.  Recent projects focused on: 1) developing and testing the optimum procedure to efficiently evaluate initial efficacy in novel medications to aid smoking cessation; 2) confirming in humans that, as in animal models, nicotine enhances the reinforcing value of rewards unassociated with smoking (i.e. not cues or other direct consequences of smoking); and 3) assessing the lowest amount of nicotine (i.e. threshold dose) in cigarettes that can be perceived (discriminated) from placebo cigarettes.   In the first project, we combine procedures from clinical and lab testing in a way to maximize clinical validity but take advantage of the practicality of lab studies, mostly by employing a within-subject comparison of active vs. placebo in a cross-over design of smokers making two short-term attempts to quit smoking. For the second project, we have shown that nicotine via smoking has reinforcement enhancing effects in humans, consistent with the preclinical findings and suggesting that smoking is persistent at least partly because it makes so many other rewards in a smoker's environment that much more enjoyable. The third project uses our behavioral discrimination procedure, originally for testing nicotine discrimination via nasal spray, to assess nicotine discrimination in tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.   Findings could have policy implications for regulating nicotine content in cigarettes. Finally, we also often examine individual differences in such responding, especially those between men and women.                                     

Perkins, K.A. & Lerman, C.  An efficient early Phase 2 procedure to screen medications for efficacy in smoking cessation.  Psychopharmacology, 2014, 231, 1-11. PMCID: PMC3910509, DOI: 10.1007/s00213-013-3364-6.

Perkins, K.A., Karelitz, J.L., & Michael, V.C.  Reinforcement enhancing effects of acute nicotine via electronic cigarettes. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2015, 153, 104-108. DOI:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.05.041

Perkins, K.A., Kunkle, N., & Karelitz, J.L. Threshold dose for behavioral discrimination of cigarette nicotine content in menthol vs. non-menthol smokers.  Psychopharmacology, 2017, 234: 1255-1265. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-017-4563-3.

Perkins, K.A., & Karelitz, J.L. Sex differences in acute relief of abstinence-induced withdrawal and negative affect due to nicotine content in cigarettes. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 2015, 17, 443-448. PMID: 25762754. DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntu150.

Bruce L. Rollman, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, Biomedical Informatics, and Clinical and Translational Science

Dr. Rollman is a Board-certified general internist whose research focuses on novel interventions to improve the quality of care for depression and anxiety disorders in non-psychiatric settings.   He has been principal investigator for six NIH-funded R01 comparative-effectiveness trials including the first trials to: (1) examine the impact of collaborative care for depression following coronary artery bypass graft surgery (2) test the impact of a "blended" collaborative care model for treating both depression and congestive heart failure; and (3) evaluate an Internet-delivered "collaborative care" strategy for treating depression and anxiety which involves care manager guided use the Beating the Blues computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT) program and a password-protected moderated Internet support group that participants can log-into via desktop computer and Smartphone to communicate with one another and share advice, and find other treatment resources.

Dr. Rollman has published nearly 80 papers including first-authored reports in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and Archives of General Psychiatry, and been awarded 4 US Patents for healthcare-related inventions.   As a result of these and other projects and through 20 years of primary care practice, Dr. Rollman is highly experienced with state-of-the-art techniques for treating mood and anxiety disorders in non-psychiatric settings, the conduct of effectiveness trials, and has established an international network of collaborators.

Rollman BL, Herbeck Belnap B, He F, Mazumdar S, Schulberg HC, Reynolds CF. Impact of collaborative care for depression following coronary artery bypass graft surgery by baseline severity of mood symptoms.   Psychosom Med 2011:73; A120.

Rollman BL, Herbeck Belnap B, He F, Mazumdar S, Schulberg HC, Reynolds CF. A Positive PHQ-2 Depression Screen Among Hospitalized Heart Failure Patients Predicts Lower Levels of Life and Elevated 12-Months Mortality. J Gen Intern Med 2011;26; S81.

Rollman BL, Donohue JM, Herbeck Belnap B, Men A, He F, Roberts MS.   The 12-Month Cost-Effectiveness of Telephone-Delivered Collaborative Care for Post-CABG Depression. J Gen Intern Med 2012; 27:S31.

 Elizabeth Venditti, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology

Dr. Venditti's research focuses primarily on behavioral weight management studies of overweight and obese adults and children at high risk for diabetes and other cardiometabolic impairments and comorbidities. She is interested in understanding the psychosocial and behavior change factors central to managing diet, activity and weight to reduce risk for chronic disease more effectively throughout the lifespan.  As PI of the Pittsburgh center of the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) (UO1DK048412) she has been evaluating the comparative efficacy of intensive lifestyle intervention, medication and placebo treatments and their long term epidemiological follow-up. Dr. Venditti has also been involved in studying psychosocial predictors of adherence and outcomes as a Co-Investigator on the Treatment of Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth (TODAY) trial. As PI of the Pitt Retiree Study (R18DK096405), a translational investigation of the Diabetes Prevention Program-Group Lifestyle BalanceTM intervention with adults 65-80 years of age, Dr. Venditti has focused on the physical function and health related quality of life outcomes of a potentially scalable version of such behavior change interventions.  In her role as Director of the Diabetes Prevention Support Center at the University of Pittsburgh she is engaged in the development, training and evaluation of standardized workshops (in-person and web-based) designed to teach students, other researchers and primary health care providers manualized lifestyle interventions to promote public health in community-based settings.

Venditti EM, Wylie-Rosett J, Delahanty LM, Mele L, Hoskin MA, Edelstein SL. Short and long-term lifestyle coaching approaches used to address diverse participant barriers to weight loss and physical activity adherence. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014; 11:16. PubMed PMID: 24521153; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4015875.

Walders-Abramson N, Venditti EM, Ievers-Landis CE, Anderson B, El Ghormli L, Geffner M, Kaplan J, Koontz MB, Saletsky R, Payan M, Yasuda P; Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth (TODAY) Study Group.. Relationships among stressful life events and physiological markers, treatment adherence, and psychosocial functioning among youth with type 2 diabetes. J Pediatr. 2014;165(3):504-508.e1. PubMed PMID: 24948348; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4145025.

Rockette-Wagner B, Edelstein S, Venditti EM, Reddy D, Bray GA, Carrion-Petersen ML, Dabelea D, Delahanty LM, Florez H, Franks PW, et al. The impact of lifestyle intervention on sedentary time in individuals at high risk of diabetes. Diabetologia. 2015; 58(6):1198-1202. PubMed PMID: 25851102; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4417075.

Venditti EM. Behavior change to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes: Psychology in action. American Psychologist. 2016; 71(7):602-613. PubMed PMID: 27690488


Aidan Wright, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dr. Wright is broadly trained as a clinical and personality psychologist.  His program of research investigates the role of social-processes (i.e., interpersonal functioning) in the most important of life outcomes: developing and maintaining satisfying relationships, finding rewarding work, and enjoying good mental and physical health.  Within this broader framework, he has studied (a) the structure of personality and psychopathology and their measurement, (b) the longitudinal course of psychiatric symptomatology and personality development, and (c) the daily variability in, and predictors of, psychiatric symptoms and environmental stress.  A consistent emphasis of his work has been the novel application of advanced statistical modeling techniques to investigate complex clinical phenomena and associated functional outcomes.

Dermody, S.S., Thomas, K.M., Hopwood, C.J., Durbin, C.E., & Wright, A.G.C. (in press). Modeling the complexity of dynamic, momentary interpersonal behavior: Applying the time-varying effect model to test predictions from interpersonal theory. Journal of Research in Personality.

Wright, A.G.C., & Simms, L.J. (2016). Stability and fluctuation of personality disorder features in daily life. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 125(5), 641-656.

Wright, A.G.C., Zalewski, M., Hallquist, M.N., Hipwell, A.E., & Stepp, S.D. (2016). Developmental trajectories of borderline personality disorder symptoms and psychosocial functioning in adolescence. Journal of Personality Disorders, 30(3), 351-372.

Wright, A.G.C., Hallquist, M.N., Beeney, J.E., & Pilkonis, P.A. (2013). Borderline personality pathology and the stability of interpersonal problems. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122(4), 1094-1100.