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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 whose current research focuses on determinants of behavioral risk factors at key points across the life span, such as puberty and menopause, with an emphasis on understanding sex differences in rates of cardiovascular disease; the influence of reproductive hormones on behavioral risk factors; the associations of personal attributes, such as hostility, and cardiovascular reactivity to stress, with subsequent development of subclinical cardiovascular diseases; and the early behavioral predictors of left ventricular mass and central body fat. Dr. Matthews has trained many graduate students and fellows in her role as Director of the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program funded by NHLBI since 1983; she teaches in the Graduate School of Public Health and in the School of Medicine and was Director of the Pittsburgh Mind/Body Center from 1994 - 2011. In that capacity, she is responsible for providing training experiences in the science of mind/body relationships with health through provision of pilot funds for research, colloquia series, and an annual intensive summer institute.

·         Mezick EJ, Hall M, Matthews KA.  Sleep duration and ambulatory blood pressure in black and white adolescents.  Hypertension. 59:747-52, 2012.

·         Midei AJ, Matthews KA, Chang YF, Bromberger JT. Childhood physical abuse is associated with incident metabolic syndrome in mid-life women. Health Psychol. 32(2):121-7, 2013.

·         Low CA, Matthews KA, Hall M. Elevated C-reactive protein in adolescents: roles of stress and coping. Psychosom Med. 75(5):449-52, 2013.

·         Burford TI, Low CA, Matthews KA.  Night/day ratios of ambulatory blood pressure among healthy adolescents: Roles of race, socioeconomic status, and psychosocial factors.  Ann Behav Med. 46(2):217-26, 2013.

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Matthew F. Muldoon. M.D.: Post-doctoral Program Co-Director

Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Psychology                                                                  Director, Hypertension Center, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

Dr. Muldoon’s research involves study of the impact of psychosocial and behavioral factors, nutrition, physical activity, and self-care skills on blood pressure, weight, cardiovascular disease risk, cognitive function and health-related quality of life.  He collaborates widely with other faculty such that his work encompasses mobile health technologies, gene-environment interactions, systemic inflammation, brain imaging, and carotid artery sonography. Dr. Muldoon’s study designs include laboratory-based experiments in humans, cross-sectional studies and randomized clinical trials. In recent years, his research has focused on the health effects of omega-3 fatty acids, and use of social media to help patients with hypertension better self-manage their condition.

  • Marsland AL, McCaffery JM, Muldoon MF, Manuck SB. Systemic Inflammation and the Metabolic Syndrome among Middle-aged Community Volunteers. Metabolism 2010;59:1801-8. PMCID: PMC2955187.
  • Kamarck TW, Shiffman S, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Muldoon MF. Daily Psychological Demands Are Associated with Six-Year Progression of Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis: The Pittsburgh Healthy Heart Project.   Psychosomatic Medicine 2012;74:432-9.
  • 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.
  • Muldoon MF, Ryan CM, Yao, JK, Conklin SM, and Manuck SB. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and optimization of cognitive performance.  Military Medicine 2014;179(11):95-105. 

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Stephen B. Manuck, Ph.D.: Pre-doctoral Program Co-Director

Distinguished University Professor of Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine

Dr. Manuck’s research program primarily subsumes studies of behavioral and psychophysiologic influences on cardiovascular disease in both human beings and nonhuman primates. The specific aim of this research is to study the behavioral and psychophysiologic attributes of individuals: (a) as potential etiological variables or as “markers” for correlated pathogenic processes in cardiovascular disease; and (b) as sequelae of disease or of interventions aimed at its amelioration or prevention. Among specific topics of research, Dr. Manuck is currently examining cardiovascular responsivity to stress as a correlate of carotid artery atherosclerosis among untreated hypertensive individuals and of coronary artery atherosclerosis in cynomolgus monkeys. As part of the University of Pittsburgh Twin Project (with Dr. M. Pogue-Geile), he is also examining the genetic and environmental determinants of cardiovascular reactivity and of lifestyle risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In addition, Dr. Manuck is evaluating the effects of lipid-lowering medication on normative behavioral functioning in hypercholesterolemic patients (with Drs. M. Muldoon, J. Flory and K. Matthews) and the effect of hypertension on cognitive functioning (with Dr. J. R. Jennings). A more recent area of investigation concerns the neurobiology and molecular genetics of aggressive behavior and impulsivity (with Drs. J. Flory, M. Muldoon, K. Matthews, and R. Ferrell).

·         Erickson KI, Banducci SE, Weinstein AM, Macdonald AW 3rd, Ferrell RE, Halder I, Flory JD, Manuck SB. The Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Val66Met Polymorphism Moderates an Effect of Physical Activity on Working Memory Performance. Psychol Sci. 2013 Sep 1;24(9):1770-9.

·         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. J Nutr. 2013 Sep;143(9):1414-20.

·         Jennings JR, Heim AF, Kuan DC, Gianaros PJ, Muldoon MF, Manuck SB. Use of total cerebral blood flow as an imaging biomarker of known cardiovascular risks. Stroke. 2013 Sep;44(9):2480-5.

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Cynthia A. 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

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Robert E. Ferrell, Ph.D.

Professor of Human Genetics

Robert E. Ferrell, PhD, is Professor of Human Genetics in the Graduate School of Public Health, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, GSPH, and Co-Director of the University of Pittsburgh Genomics and Proteomics Core Laboratories. He has over 30 years experience conducting research and teaching in human population, biochemical and molecular genetics. He has coauthored over 500 peer reviewed publications in various aspects of human genetics. He has a long standing in understanding ethnic differences in susceptibility to common disease, and to understanding the biological and/or environmental basis of significant health disparities in minority populations.  Dr. Ferrell also the Co-Director of the Genomics and Proteomics Core Laboratory. His current research involves the genetic causes of primary (inherited) and secondary lymphedema.

·         Erickson KI, Banducci SE, Weinstein AM, Macdonald AW 3rd, Ferrell RE, Halder I, Flory JD, Manuck SB. The Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Val66Met Polymorphism Moderates an Effect of Physical Activity on Working Memory Performance. Psychol Sci. 2013 Sep 1;24(9):1770-9.


·         Lotrich FE, Albusaysi S, Ferrell RE.  Brain-derived neurotrophic factor serum levels and genotype: association with depression during interferon-α treatment. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 May;38(6):985-95.

·         Finegold DN, Baty CJ, Knickelbein KZ, Perschke S, Noon SE, Campbell D, Karlsson JM, Huang D, Kimak MA, Lawrence EC, Feingold E, Meriney SD, Brufsky AM, Ferrell RE.  Connexin 47 mutations increase risk for secondary lymphedema following breast cancer treatment.  Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Apr 15;18(8):2382-90.

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Peter J. Gianaros, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry

Dr. Gianaros conducts neuroimaging and psychophysiological research focused on characterizing the neural correlates of stress reactivity and emotion regulation in the context of cardiovascular disease risk. Another line of his research focuses on understanding how different dimensions of socioeconomic status might, over the lifespan and through particular brain systems, affect aspects of behavior, cognition, emotion, and physiology that influence cardiovascular disease risk.

·      Erickson KI, Creswell JD, Verstynen TD, Gianaros PJ (2014). Health Neuroscience: Defining a new field. Curr Dir Psychol Sci, 23(6):446-453.

  • Gianaros PJ, Kuan DC, Marsland AL, Sheu LK, Hackman DA, Miller KG, Manuck SB. (in press) Community socioeconomic disadvantage in midlife relates to cortical morphology via neuroendocrine and cardiometabolic pathways. Cereb Cortex. pii: bhv233.

  • Gianaros PJ, Marsland AL, Kuan DC, Schirda BL, Jennings JR, Sheu LK, Hariri AR, Gross JJ, Manuck SB (2014). An inflammatory pathway links atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk to neural activity evoked by the cognitive regulation of emotion. Biol Psychiatry, 75(9):738-45.

  • Gianaros PJ, Wager TD (2015). Brain-body pathways linking psychological stress and physical health. Curr Dir Psychol Sci, 24(4):313-321.

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Martica Hall, Ph.D.

Associate 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.

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John M. Jakicic, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity

John M. Jakicic, Ph.D. 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.

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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, 2014. 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, 2014. | DOI: 10.1111/psyp.1232

  • Rosano, C., Abebe, K.Z., Aizenstein, H.J., Boudreau, R., Jennings, J.R., Venkatraman, V., Harris, T.B., Yaffe, K., Satterfield, S., Newman, A.B., for the Health of ABC Study.:  Longitudinal systolic blood pressure characteristics and integrity of white matter tracts in a cohort of very old black and white adults.  American Journal of Hypertension, epub, 2014.

  •   Sparto, P.J., Fuhrman, S.I., Redfern, M.S., Perera, S., Jennings, J.R., & Furman, J.M.:  Postural adjustment errors during lateral step initiation in older and younger adults.  Experimental Brain Research, 232(12):3977-3989, 2014.

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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.

Dr. Kamarck and his colleagues have spent the past several years developing new prototype measures of psychosocial stress, with a particular emphasis on capturing the temporal dimensions of stress exposure. We have recently developed a new EMA based stress assessment tool, and we have been developing a new interview-based measure designed to more efficiently assess exposure to acute and chronic stressors and their potential impact on health.

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 just beginning 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., Muldoon, M.F., Manuck, S.B., Haskett, R.F., Cheong, J., Flory, J.D. & Vella, E. Citalopram improves metabolic risk factors among high hostile adults: Results of a placebo-controlled intervention. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36, 1070-1079, 2011.


·         Kamarck, T.W., Shiffman, S., Sutton-Tyrrell, K., Muldoon, M.F., & Tepper, P. Daily psychological demands are associated with six-year progression of carotid artery atherosclerosis: The Pittsburgh Healthy Heart Project. Psychosomatic Medicine, 74, 432-439, 2012.


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

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Michele Levine, Ph. D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology

Dr. Levine's research focuses on understanding health behaviors among women and the conduct of clinical trials for behavior change.  In particular, Dr. Levine is interested in smoking and obesity-related behaviors during pregnancy and the postpartum periods. For example, recent NIH-funded work has focused on understanding and preventing postpartum relapses to cigarette smoking, and the relationship between smoking cessation and post-cessation weight gain.  In addition, Dr. Levine's work with pregnancy and postpartum women involves predicting and preventing excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention.  She recently received funding to conduct a longitudinal investigation of the psychosocial and behavioral correlates of excessive gestational weight gain among overweight and obese women.   Given that many women exceed recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy, findings from this ongoing study may yield novel, modifiable targets for interventions designed to prevent excessive gestational weight gain, and thus improve the health of women and their children.

·         Levine MD, Perkins KA, Kalarchian MA, Cheng Y, Houck PR, Slane JD, Marcus MD.   Bupropion and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Weight Concerned Women Smokers.  Arch Intern Med. 2010; 170:543-550. PMCID: PMC3113531.


·         Levine MD, Marcus MD, Kalarchian MA, Houck PR, Cheng Y.   Weight concerns, mood and postpartum smoking relapse.  Am J Prev Med.  2010; 39:345-351. PMCID: PMC2939865.

·         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. PMC Journal- In Process. PMID 22076594.

·         Levine MD, Cheng Y, Kalarchian MA, Perkins KA, Marcus MD.  Dietary Intake after Smoking Cessation among Weight Concerned Women Smokers.  Psychol Addict Behav.  2012; 26:969-973. PMCID: PMC3475794.

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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. With regard to pediatric obesity, Dr. Marcus is a site co-investigator of a multi-site longitudinal follow-up study of a trial that evaluated treatment strategies, including lifestyle intervention, for youth with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Marcus has an ongoing project that focuses on the pharmacological treatment of anorexia nervosa. She also is co-investigator on a trial designed to elucidate phenotypic heterogeneity in anorexia nervosa. Finally, she is co-investigator on trials designed to elucidate the role of loss of control eating in gestational weight gain and mitigate risk for type 2 diabetes in seniors. Future research projects will focus on understanding aberrant eating in obese individuals, and the development and evaluation of treatments for eating disorders.

  • Wildes JE, Marcus MD. Alternative methods of classifying eating disorders: models incorporating comorbid psychopathology and associated features. Clin Psychol Rev 2013; 33(3):383-394. PMCID: PMC3594041

·     Marcus MD, Foster GD, El ghormli L. Stability of relative weight category and cardiometabolic risk factors among moderately and severely obese middle school youth. Obesity 2014;22:1118-25. PMID: 24376009

  • Wildes JE, Marcus MD, Cheng Y, McCabe EB, Gaskill JA. Emotion acceptance behavior therapy for anorexia nervosa: a pilot study. Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:870-3. PMID: 24407934

  • Marcus MD, Wildes JE. Disordered eating in obese individuals. Curr Opin Psychiatry 2014;27:443-7. PMID: 25247456

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Anna Marsland, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology  University of Pittsburgh


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.

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Kenneth A. Perkins, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Epidemiology

Our laboratory primarily examines the acute effects of nicotine and cigarette smoking in adults that may explain the persistence of tobacco dependence and, increasingly, new procedures to help smokers quit smoking.  Current projects focus 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.  We now plan to assess whether nicotine via medication (patch, spray), vs placebo, also has these effects in abstinent smokers. Finally, the third project uses our behavioral discrimination procedure, originally for testing nicotine discrimination via nasal spray, to assess nicotine discrimination threshold dose in cigarettes.  Findings could inform what level of nicotine in cigarettes may be below the threshold for maintaining dependence, which could have policy implications for regulating nicotine content in cigarettes.

  • 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.
  • 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.   Reinforcement enhancing effects of nicotine via smoking.   Psychopharmacology, 2013, 228, 479-486.   DOI: 10.1007/s00213-013-3054-4.
  • 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


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Steven E. Reis, M.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine & Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research, Health Sciences

Dr. Reis has focused his clinical research interests on the identification and evaluation of pathophysiologic mechanisms of racial, gender and socioeconomic disparitinary artery endothelial function in postmenopausal women. This work provided the foundation for his subsequent investigations of the cardiovascular effects of hormones in postmenopausal women with CVD risk factors and chest pain (NHLBI N01 Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation Study (WISE)) and congestive heart failure (NIH R01: Estrogen, Cytokines and Heart Failure in Women). As the Principal Investigator for the Pittsburgh site of the WISE and for his NIH-funded U01, “Immunologic Basis of Coronary Disease in Women,” Dr. Reis subsequently focused his clinical research on the identification of gender-specific pathophysiologic mechanisms of chest pain and myocardial ischemia. He has demonstrated that women with chest pain in the absence of obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) have a high prevalence of microvascular dysfunction which is not related to traditional atherosclerosis risk factors, sex hormones, and inflammation. He has also reported that inflammation is more strongly associated with cardiovascular events than with obstructive CAD, indicating that inflammation plays a critical role in atherosclerosis plaque vulnerability and rupture. His investigation of metabolism and CVD demonstrated that obesity is not an independent CVD risk factor in women. His work has shown that the increased CVD risk that is associated with obesity is related to the presence of the metabolic syndrome, which commonly coexists with obesity in women and is an independent risk factor for CVD events.

Dr. Reis has expanded his interest in disparities in cardiovascular risk and the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis to the investigation of racial disparities in CVD. His Commonwealth of Pennsylvania-funded community based participatory research project, Heart Strategies Concentrating on Risk Evaluation (Heart SCORE), is evaluating racial differences in traditional and emerging CVD risk factors to improve CVD risk stratification in high-risk populations, identify disparities in CVD risk based on race and socioeconomic status, and pilot a short-term intervention program to decrease CVD risk among African Americans.  

·         Bambs CE, Kip KE, Mulukutla SR, Aiyer AN, Johnson C, McDowell LA, Matthews K, Reis SE.  Sociodemographic, clinical, and psychological factors associated with attrition in a prospective study of cardiovascular prevention: the Heart Strategies Concentrating on Risk Evaluation study. Ann Epidemiol. 2013 Jun;23(6):328-33.

·         Halder I, Kip KE, Mulukutla SR, Aiyer AN, Marroquin OC, Huggins GS, Reis SE. Biogeographic ancestry, self-identified race, and admixture-phenotype associations in the Heart SCORE Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Jul 15;176(2):146-55.

·         Luyster FS, Kip KE, Drumheller OJ, Rice TB, Edmundowicz D, Matthews K, Reis SE, Strollo PJ Jr. Sleep apnea is related to the atherogenic phenotype, lipoprotein subclass B. J Clin Sleep Med. 2012 Apr 15;8(2):155-61.

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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.

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Rebecca C. Thurston, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical and   Translational Science Institute

Dr. Thurston’s research focuses on midlife women’s health. She researches menopause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women, two prevalent and inter-related health issues that can have a profound impact on women’s lives. CVD is the leading cause of death among women, the onset of which is on average 10 years later than men. Further, the menopause transition is a major transition in women’s lives that is associated with hormonal, sleep, mood, and cardiovascular changes. In one line of her research, Dr. Thurston examines the physiology, management, and health impact of menopausal hot flashes – phenomena experienced by over 70% of women and for which there are few safe and effective treatments. She investigates hot flashes as a potential midlife marker of underlying risk for CVD. In other work, she considers how sleep problems – common during the menopause transition – may play a role in women’s cardiovascular health. Finally, she considers how psychosocial factors impact the development of CVD in women, including how violence exposure, trauma, loneliness, anxiety, and low socioeconomic status may uniquely impact women’s cardiovascular health. In her work, she brings together concepts and methods from behavioral medicine and epidemiology to answer questions pertinent to women’s health.

In addition to her research, Dr. Thurston is a practicing clinical psychologist who specializes in treating midlife women for behavioral health issues. She is particularly interested in the integration of mental health services into traditional medical settings. To that end, she runs a small behavioral health service out of the Magee Women’s Midlife Health Center, one of the few gynecology practices devoted to treating midlife women. Finally, Dr. Thurston is committed to training the next generation of scholars. She holds a K24 award from the NIH, a mid-career mentoring award focused on interdisciplinary training in women’s cardiovascular health.
  •  Thurston RC, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Everson-Rose SA, Hess R, Matthews KA. Hot flashes and subclinical cardiovascular disease: Findings from The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation Heart Study. Circulation. 2008 Sep; 118(12):1234-40. PMCID:  PMC2728044 

  • Thurston RC, Christie IC, Matthews KA. Hot flashes and cardiac vagal control during    women's daily lives. Menopause. 2012 Apr; 19(4):406-12. PMCID: PMC3292670

  • Thurston RC, Chang Y, Derby CA, Bromberger JT, Harlow SD, Janssen I, Matthews KA. Abuse and subclinical cardiovascular disease among midlife women: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Stroke. 2014 Aug; 45(8):2246-51. PMCID: PMC4116433



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