Dr. Epel is a professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF and is assistant director of the Center for Health and Community. She received her BA in psychology from Stanford University, and completed her doctorate in clinical and health psychology at Yale University. Her research investigates the intricacies of the mind-body connection. In particular, she has been studying psychological and behavioral processes related to chronic psychological stress that accelerate biological aging, and how meditation and mindfulness-based interventions might slow cellular aging.
Dr. Epel also studies how intertwined eating is with emotional life, and how emotional eating affects metabolism and aging. With her collaborators, she has current clinical trials to examine how mindful eating programs affect weight loss, pregnancy health, and the health of infants. She is also studying how a specialized mindfulness training targeting parenting stress affects the biology of aging as well as child wellbeing, especially for children with autism. Dr. Epel is particularly interested in how mobile technology can promote changes in daily experience. In collaboration with Eli Puterman, Liz Blackburn, Rudy Tanzi, and other colleagues, Dr. Epel recently helped lead a randomized controlled study examining the acute effects of a wellness/meditation retreat (at the Chopra Center) on biological health, and how this may differ from the more general relaxation response that results from a resort vacation. Her research on stress and aging is covered in depth in “Stress Less” (by Thea Singer). Her work has been featured in the media, including The New York Times, National Geographic, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, and the Dr. Oz Show.