Elissa Epel, Ph.D, is a Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Psychiatry, at University of California, San Francisco. She is the Director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center (www.amecenter.ucsf.edu), Associate Director of the Center for Health and Community and the NIDDK UCSF NORC, member of the National Academy of Medicine, and past President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research and Co-Chair of the Mind and Life Institute Steering Council. Epel is leading a Mental Health Council, as part of the UC wide Center for Climate, Healthy and Equity, focusing on climate distress to activation.
Elissa studies psychological, social, and behavioral processes related to chronic psychological stress and health, and how to apply this basic science to scalable interventions that can reach vulnerable populations. She studies processes that accelerate biological aging, with a focus on overeating and metabolism, and cellular aging (including the telomere/telomerase maintenance system). She and her colleagues develop and test interventions that combine behavioral, psychological, and mindfulness training. Currently, she is testing short term interventions to improve stress resilience and physiological homeostatic capacity, to slow aging. She co-leads studies funded by NIA, NCCIH, NIDDK, and NHLBI, including an NIH funded national Stress Network, and an Emotional Well Being Network, and has been involved in National Institute Health initiatives on reversibility of early life adversity, and Science of Behavior Change.
Epel studied psychology and psychobiology at Stanford University, and clinical and health psychology at Yale University. She completed a clinical internship at the Palo Alto Veterans Healthcare System and an NIMH postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF. Epel has received several awards including the APA Early Career Award, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research Neal Miller Young Investigator Award, and the 2017 Silver Innovator Award from the Alliance for Aging Research and noted by the web of science as a highly cited researchers for interdisciplinary publications. Epel co-wrote with nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, The Telomere Effect (2017), a NYT bestseller under Science, which is translated in 30 languages. In 2022, she wrote The Stress Prescription, on science based fundamental practices to reduce stress and increase well being.
Her work has been featured in venues such as TEDMED, NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s Morning Show, 60 minutes, National Public Radio, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Wisdom 2.0, Health 2.0, and in many science documentaries. Epel led the creation of expert written web-based resources and short videos for pandemics and other crises, including psychological first aid and mental health issues at www.cope.ucsf.edu.