Elissa S. Epel, Ph.D.is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF. She is also a faculty member in the Health Psychology Postdoctoral Program, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program. She is one of the founders of COAST, and is serving as a Co-Director. She received a BA in psychology from Stanford University, and a PhD in clinical psychology from Yale University, with a focus on health psychology. Through her research on stress and training in the Yale Center for Eating and Weight disorders, she became interested in the intricate relationships between chronic psychological stress, eating behavior, and energy balance. She completed a clinical internship focusing on Behavioral Medicine at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.
Her research examines relationships among chronic stress, social status, coping processes, and neuroendocrine and metabolic sequelae. She has several ongoing laboratory and field studies examining questions such as: Does type of stress response (psychological, neuroendocrine/peptide) help determine why some people eat less during stress whereas others eat more? Does chronic stress really lead to abdominal fat distribution and insulin resistance? Drive for calorically dense food? Do stress and obesity accelerate aging of mitotic cells? Lastly, she is interested in mechanisms through which stress reduction may lead to improvements in metabolic health.