I am trained in Internal Medicine, with additional training in clinical research methods, biostatistics, and behavioral medicine. My research focus for many years was on HIV. I developed one of the largest cohorts in the world of persons followed from primary HIV (within 6 months of infection), the Options Project, in which we have examined clinical, behavioral, cardiovascular, and immunologic research questions. In 2002, I became Director of Research at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. My research is driven by the belief that modern medicine has made impressive advances in treating a range of health conditions, but that further advances for many of the most important health problems of our era, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health issues require improved development and implementation of lifestyle and other non-pharmacologic approaches. An important goal of my research program is to rigorously test whether we can improve interventions for chronic health problems such as HIV, diabetes, obesity, and stress, by incorporating mindfulness and/or yoga-based components. A current example is an NIH-funded study to test whether including training in mindful eating practices decreases eating in response to food cravings and enhances adherence to a nutritional plan in type 2 diabetes. I bring a focus on clinical research methodology to the projects I am involved with. I am particularly interested in the use of innovative research methodology to strengthen the rigor of research on nonpharmacolgic health interventions, including factorial trials and Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trials (SMARTs), and assessment of teacher factors in mindfulness programs to improve intervention fidelity .
In my role as Director of the UCSF Osher Center Research Program, I have played a key leadership role in building it into an internationally recognized integrative medicine research center that is distinguished by the application of innovative and rigorous research designs to studying mindfulness-based interventions, yoga, acupuncture, interoceptive awareness, and behavioral interventions. I have served in a variety of leadership roles in HIV medicine and integrative health, including as board chair of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health, which gives me a broad view of the field. I have a strong commitment to mentoring. I have led UCSF’s highly successful Training Research in Integrative Medicine (TRIM) fellowship program since 2006, and have served as a primary or main co-mentor for 12 NIH K awardees. I have served as PI or co-PI/project director for 31 grants, 19 of them from NIH, including leading three Program Project grants.