Kirstin Aschbacher, PhD

Title(s)Associate Professor, Medicine
SchoolSchool of Medicine
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    FOCUS: Dr. Kirstin Aschbacher is an Associate Professor and Data Scientist in the Division of Cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Aschbacher is passionate about “digital lifestyle medicine” – i.e., using technology to help people prevent and manage disease through healthy lifestyle change.

    CLINCIAL TRAINING: She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Joint Doctoral Program between San Diego State University and University of California, San Diego with specialized expertise in Behavioral Medicine. She is also a licensed Clinical Psychologist.

    DATA SCIENCE TRAINING: Dr. Aschbacher received specialized training in Data Science and mathematical modeling through her Postdoctoral work at UCSF, by completing the Data Insight Fellows Program, and through working at a Silicon Valley health start-up (Jawbone) as a Data Scientist for over a year. At Jawbone, Dr. Aschbacher helped design, build and test interventions to help users make positive changes in their diet, activity, sleep, and weight.

    RESEARCH INTERESTS: Dr. Aschbacher’s research has focused on how psychological stress and diet both contribute to the risk for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. She is interested in the question – How do we help people learn and practice the skills they need to become more resilient to stress, make healthy lifestyle changes, and reduce the burden of disease? Going forward, she is focused on applying these interests in the context of digital therapeutics and the Health eHeart study.




    Sound Sleep may help Curb Calories

    Dr. Aschbacher Featured in the Jawbone Blog

    Stress & Poor Diet work Synergistically to Augment Metabolic Risk

    Chronic Stress may Impair Cells that Help Repair Blood Vessel Linings

    The Art and Science of Storytelling through Data

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    Effects of Psychosocial Stress on Endothelial Progenitor Cells
    NIH/NHLBI K23HL112955May 1, 2012 - Apr 30, 2017
    Role: Principal Investigator

    Collapse ORNG Applications 
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    Collapse In The News

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Avram R, Tison GH, Aschbacher K, Kuhar P, Vittinghoff E, Butzner M, Runge R, Wu N, Pletcher MJ, Marcus GM, Olgin J. Real-world heart rate norms in the Health eHeart study. NPJ Digit Med. 2019; 2:58. PMID: 31304404.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Delling FN, Vittinghoff E, Dewland TA, Pletcher MJ, Olgin JE, Nah G, Aschbacher K, Fang CD, Lee ES, Fan SM, Kazi DS, Marcus GM. Does cannabis legalisation change healthcare utilisation? A population-based study using the healthcare cost and utilisation project in Colorado, USA. BMJ Open. 2019 May 15; 9(5):e027432. PMID: 31092662.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Mason AE, Jhaveri K, Schleicher S, Almeida C, Hartman A, Wackerly A, Alba D, Koliwad SK, Epel ES, Aschbacher K. Sweet cognition: The differential effects of glucose consumption on attentional food bias in individuals of lean and obese status. Physiol Behav. 2019 Jul 01; 206:264-273. PMID: 31002858.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Zheng Y, Sereika SM, Burke LE, Olgin JE, Marcus GM, Aschbacher K, Tison GH, Pletcher MJ. Temporal patterns of self-weighing behavior and weight changes assessed by consumer purchased scales in the Health eHeart Study. J Behav Med. 2019 Jan 16. PMID: 30649648.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Mason AE, Adler JM, Puterman E, Lakmazaheri A, Brucker M, Aschbacher K, Epel ES. Stress resilience: Narrative identity may buffer the longitudinal effects of chronic caregiving stress on mental health and telomere shortening. Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Mar; 77:101-109. PMID: 30579939.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Aschbacher K, Mellon SH, Wolkowitz OM, Henn-Haase C, Yehuda R, Flory JD, Bierer LM, Abu-Amara D, Marmar CR, Mueller SG. Posttraumatic stress disorder, symptoms, and white matter abnormalities among combat-exposed veterans. Brain Imaging Behav. 2018 Aug; 12(4):989-999. PMID: 28823023.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Park J, Flores AJ, Aschbacher K, Mendes WB. When anger expression might be beneficial for African Americans: The moderating role of chronic discrimination. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2018 07; 24(3):303-318. PMID: 29792483.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Mason AE, Schleicher S, Coccia M, Epel ES, Aschbacher K. Chronic Stress and Impulsive Risk-Taking Predict Increases in Visceral Fat over 18 Months. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 05; 26(5):869-876. PMID: 29566458.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Picard M, Prather AA, Puterman E, Cuillerier A, Coccia M, Aschbacher K, Burelle Y, Epel ES. A Mitochondrial Health Index Sensitive to Mood and Caregiving Stress. Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Jul 01; 84(1):9-17. PMID: 29525040.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Lindqvist D, Mellon SH, Dhabhar FS, Yehuda R, Grenon SM, Flory JD, Bierer LM, Abu-Amara D, Coy M, Makotkine I, Reus VI, Aschbacher K, Bersani FS, Marmar CR, Wolkowitz OM. Increased circulating blood cell counts in combat-related PTSD: Associations with inflammation and PTSD severity. Psychiatry Res. 2017 12; 258:330-336. PMID: 28942957.
      View in: PubMed
    11. Dalgaard VL, Aschbacher K, Andersen JH, Glasscock DJ, Willert MV, Carstensen O, Biering K. Return to work after work-related stress: a randomized controlled trial of a work-focused cognitive behavioral intervention. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2017 09 01; 43(5):436-446. PMID: 28650513.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Aschbacher K, Milush JM, Gilbert A, Almeida C, Sinclair E, Epling L, Grenon SM, Marco EJ, Puterman E, Epel E. Chronic stress is associated with reduced circulating hematopoietic progenitor cell number: A maternal caregiving model. Brain Behav Immun. 2017 Jan; 59:245-252. PMID: 27622676.
      View in: PubMed
    13. Bersani FS, Wolkowitz OM, Milush JM, Sinclair E, Eppling L, Aschbacher K, Lindqvist D, Yehuda R, Flory J, Bierer LM, Matokine I, Abu-Amara D, Reus VI, Coy M, Hough CM, Marmar CR, Mellon SH. A population of atypical CD56(-)CD16(+) natural killer cells is expanded in PTSD and is associated with symptom severity. Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Aug; 56:264-70. PMID: 27025668.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Grenon SM, Owens CD, Alley H, Perez S, Whooley MA, Neylan TC, Aschbacher K, Gasper WJ, Hilton JF, Cohen BE. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Is Associated With Worse Endothelial Function Among Veterans. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Mar 23; 5(3):e003010. PMID: 27009621; PMCID: PMC4943274.
    15. Aschbacher K, Derakhshandeh R, Flores AJ, Narayan S, Mendes WB, Springer ML. Circulating angiogenic cell function is inhibited by cortisol in vitro and associated with psychological stress and cortisol in vivo. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 May; 67:216-23. PMID: 26925833; PMCID: PMC4808379 [Available on 05/01/17].
    16. Lin J, Cheon J, Brown R, Coccia M, Puterman E, Aschbacher K, Sinclair E, Epel E, Blackburn EH. Systematic and Cell Type-Specific Telomere Length Changes in Subsets of Lymphocytes. J Immunol Res. 2016; 2016:5371050. PMID: 26977417; PMCID: PMC4764743.
    17. Mason AE, Epel ES, Aschbacher K, Lustig RH, Acree M, Kristeller J, Cohn M, Dallman M, Moran PJ, Bacchetti P, Laraia B, Hecht FM, Daubenmier J. Reduced reward-driven eating accounts for the impact of a mindfulness-based diet and exercise intervention on weight loss: Data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. Appetite. 2016 May 01; 100:86-93. PMID: 26867697; PMCID: PMC4799744 [Available on 05/01/17].
    18. Chen Q, Varga M, Wang X, Haddad DJ, An S, Medzikovic L, Derakhshandeh R, Kostyushev DS, Zhang Y, Clifford BT, Luu E, Danforth OM, Rafikov R, Gong W, Black SM, Suchkov SV, Fineman JR, Heiss C, Aschbacher K, Yeghiazarians Y, Springer ML. Overexpression of Nitric Oxide Synthase Restores Circulating Angiogenic Cell Function in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease: Implications for Autologous Cell Therapy for Myocardial Infarction. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jan 06; 5(1). PMID: 26738788.
      View in: PubMed
    19. Puterman E, Epel ES, O'Donovan A, Prather AA, Aschbacher K, Dhabhar FS. Anger is associated with increased IL-6 stress reactivity in women, but only among those low in social support. Int J Behav Med. 2014 Dec; 21(6):936-45. PMID: 24357433; PMCID: PMC4406249.
    20. Aschbacher K, Rodriguez-Fernandez M, van Wietmarschen H, Tomiyama AJ, Jain S, Epel E, Doyle FJ, van der Greef J. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-leptin axis and metabolic health: a systems approach to resilience, robustness and control. Interface Focus. 2014 Oct 06; 4(5):20140020. PMID: 25285198.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Aschbacher K, Kornfeld S, Picard M, Puterman E, Havel PJ, Stanhope K, Lustig RH, Epel E. Chronic stress increases vulnerability to diet-related abdominal fat, oxidative stress, and metabolic risk. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Aug; 46:14-22. PMID: 24882154; PMCID: PMC4104274.
    22. Pinnamaneni K, Sievers RE, Sharma R, Selchau AM, Gutierrez G, Nordsieck EJ, Su R, An S, Chen Q, Wang X, Derakhshandeh R, Aschbacher K, Heiss C, Glantz SA, Schick SF, Springer ML. Brief exposure to secondhand smoke reversibly impairs endothelial vasodilatory function. Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 May; 16(5):584-90. PMID: 24302638; PMCID: PMC3977486.
    23. Aschbacher K, O'Donovan A, Wolkowitz OM, Dhabhar FS, Su Y, Epel E. Good stress, bad stress and oxidative stress: insights from anticipatory cortisol reactivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Sep; 38(9):1698-708. PMID: 23490070; PMCID: PMC4028159.
    24. Aschbacher K, Adam EK, Crofford LJ, Kemeny ME, Demitrack MA, Ben-Zvi A. Linking disease symptoms and subtypes with personalized systems-based phenotypes: a proof of concept study. Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Oct; 26(7):1047-56. PMID: 22687333.
      View in: PubMed
    25. Aschbacher K, Epel E, Wolkowitz OM, Prather AA, Puterman E, Dhabhar FS. Maintenance of a positive outlook during acute stress protects against pro-inflammatory reactivity and future depressive symptoms. Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Feb; 26(2):346-52. PMID: 22119400; PMCID: PMC4030538.
    26. Aschbacher K, Chen Q, Varga M, Haddad DJ, Yeghiazarians Y, Epel E, Wolkowitz OM, Springer ML. Higher fasting glucose levels are associated with reduced circulating angiogenic cell migratory capacity among healthy individuals. Am J Cardiovasc Dis. 2012; 2(1):12-9. PMID: 22254209; PMCID: PMC3257152.
    27. Ben-Zvi, A., Aschbacher, K.Int. J. of Advanced Mechatronic Systems. Asymptotic parameter sensitivity for polynomial dynamical systems. 2011; 3(1):54-64.
    28. Aschbacher K, Kemeny ME. New directions in linking the dynamics of affective and stress-arousal systems. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Feb; 25(2):230-1. PMID: 21044679.
      View in: PubMed
    29. Roepke SK, Mausbach BT, Patterson TL, Von Känel R, Ancoli-Israel S, Harmell AL, Dimsdale JE, Aschbacher K, Mills PJ, Ziegler MG, Allison M, Grant I. Effects of Alzheimer caregiving on allostatic load. J Health Psychol. 2011 Jan; 16(1):58-69. PMID: 20709885; PMCID: PMC3161622.
    30. Roepke SK, Mausbach BT, von Känel R, Ancoli-Israel S, Harmell AL, Dimsdale JE, Aschbacher K, Mills PJ, Patterson TL, Grant I. The moderating role of personal mastery on the relationship between caregiving status and multiple dimensions of fatigue. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009 Dec; 24(12):1453-62. PMID: 19548267; PMCID: PMC4091958.
    31. Aschbacher K, von Känel R, Mills PJ, Roepke SK, Hong S, Dimsdale JE, Mausbach BT, Patterson TL, Ziegler MG, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Longitudinal platelet reactivity to acute psychological stress among older men and women. Stress. 2009 Sep; 12(5):426-33. PMID: 19096987.
      View in: PubMed
    32. Aschbacher K, Roepke SK, von Känel R, Mills PJ, Mausbach BT, Patterson TL, Dimsdale JE, Ziegler MG, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Persistent versus transient depressive symptoms in relation to platelet hyperactivation: a longitudinal analysis of dementia caregivers. J Affect Disord. 2009 Jul; 116(1-2):80-7. PMID: 19131112.
      View in: PubMed
    33. Bormann JE, Aschbacher K, Wetherell JL, Roesch S, Redwine L. Effects of faith/assurance on cortisol levels are enhanced by a spiritual mantram intervention in adults with HIV: a randomized trial. J Psychosom Res. 2009 Feb; 66(2):161-71. PMID: 19154859.
      View in: PubMed
    34. Groessl EJ, Weingart KR, Aschbacher K, Pada L, Baxi S. Yoga for veterans with chronic low-back pain. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Nov; 14(9):1123-9. PMID: 18991515.
      View in: PubMed
    35. Mills PJ, Ancoli-Israel S, von Känel R, Mausbach BT, Aschbacher K, Patterson TL, Ziegler MG, Dimsdale JE, Grant I. Effects of gender and dementia severity on Alzheimer's disease caregivers' sleep and biomarkers of coagulation and inflammation. Brain Behav Immun. 2009 Jul; 23(5):605-10. PMID: 18930805; PMCID: PMC2757046.
    36. Mausbach BT, Aschbacher K, Mills PJ, Roepke SK, von Känel R, Patterson TL, Dimsdale JE, Ziegler MG, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. A 5-year longitudinal study of the relationships between stress, coping, and immune cell beta(2)-adrenergic receptor sensitivity. Psychiatry Res. 2008 Sep 30; 160(3):247-55. PMID: 18708265; PMCID: PMC2567282.
    37. Roepke SK, Mausbach BT, Aschbacher K, Ziegler MG, Dimsdale JE, Mills PJ, von Känel R, Ancoli-Israel S, Patterson TL, Grant I. Personal mastery is associated with reduced sympathetic arousal in stressed Alzheimer caregivers. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Apr; 16(4):310-7. PMID: 18378556; PMCID: PMC2736878.
    38. Mausbach BT, von Känel R, Patterson TL, Dimsdale JE, Depp CA, Aschbacher K, Mills PJ, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. The moderating effect of personal mastery and the relations between stress and Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) antigen. Health Psychol. 2008 Mar; 27(2S):S172-9. PMID: 18377159.
      View in: PubMed
    39. von Känel R, Mausbach BT, Patterson TL, Dimsdale JE, Aschbacher K, Mills PJ, Ziegler MG, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Increased Framingham Coronary Heart Disease Risk Score in dementia caregivers relative to non-caregiving controls. Gerontology. 2008; 54(3):131-7. PMID: 18204247.
      View in: PubMed
    40. Aschbacher K, Mills PJ, von Känel R, Hong S, Mausbach BT, Roepke SK, Dimsdale JE, Patterson TL, Ziegler MG, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Effects of depressive and anxious symptoms on norepinephrine and platelet P-selectin responses to acute psychological stress among elderly caregivers. Brain Behav Immun. 2008 May; 22(4):493-502. PMID: 18054198; PMCID: PMC2442159.
    41. Aschbacher K, von Känel R, Mills PJ, Hong S, Roepke SK, Mausbach BT, Patterson TL, Ziegler MG, Dimsdale JE, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Combination of caregiving stress and hormone replacement therapy is associated with prolonged platelet activation to acute stress among postmenopausal women. Psychosom Med. 2007 Dec; 69(9):910-7. PMID: 17991824.
      View in: PubMed
    42. Mausbach BT, von Känel R, Aschbacher K, Roepke SK, Dimsdale JE, Ziegler MG, Mills PJ, Patterson TL, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Spousal caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease show longitudinal increases in plasma level of tissue-type plasminogen activator antigen. Psychosom Med. 2007 Nov; 69(8):816-22. PMID: 17942832.
      View in: PubMed
    43. Mausbach BT, Aschbacher K, Patterson TL, von Känel R, Dimsdale JE, Mills PJ, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Effects of placement and bereavement on psychological well-being and cardiovascular risk in Alzheimer's caregivers: a longitudinal analysis. J Psychosom Res. 2007 Apr; 62(4):439-45. PMID: 17383495.
      View in: PubMed
    44. Yazdi CA, Aschbacher K, Arvantaj A, Naser HM, Abdollahi E, Asadi A, Mousavi M, Narmani MR, Kianpishe M, Nicfallah F, Moghadam AK. Knowledge, attitudes and sources of information regarding HIV/AIDS in Iranian adolescents. AIDS Care. 2006 Nov; 18(8):1004-10. PMID: 17012092.
      View in: PubMed
    45. Mausbach BT, Mills PJ, Patterson TL, Aschbacher K, Dimsdale JE, Ancoli-Israel S, von Känel R, Grant I. Stress-related reduction in personal mastery is associated with reduced immune cell beta2-adrenergic receptor sensitivity. Int Psychogeriatr. 2007 Oct; 19(5):935-46. PMID: 17018181.
      View in: PubMed
    46. Mausbach BT, Ancoli-Israel S, von Känel R, Patterson TL, Aschbacher K, Mills PJ, Ziegler MG, Dimsdale JE, Calleran S, Grant I. Sleep disturbance, norepinephrine, and D-dimer are all related in elderly caregivers of people with Alzheimer disease. Sleep. 2006 Oct; 29(10):1347-52. PMID: 17068989.
      View in: PubMed
    47. Aschbacher K, von Känel R, Dimsdale JE, Patterson TL, Mills PJ, Mausbach BT, Allison MA, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Dementia severity of the care receiver predicts procoagulant response in Alzheimer caregivers. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2006 Aug; 14(8):694-703. PMID: 16861374.
      View in: PubMed
    48. von Känel R, Hepp U, Buddeberg C, Keel M, Mica L, Aschbacher K, Schnyder U. Altered blood coagulation in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychosom Med. 2006 Jul-Aug; 68(4):598-604. PMID: 16868270.
      View in: PubMed
    49. Mausbach BT, Aschbacher K, Patterson TL, Ancoli-Israel S, von Känel R, Mills PJ, Dimsdale JE, Grant I. Avoidant coping partially mediates the relationship between patient problem behaviors and depressive symptoms in spousal Alzheimer caregivers. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2006 Apr; 14(4):299-306. PMID: 16582038.
      View in: PubMed
    50. Aschbacher K, Patterson TL, von Känel R, Dimsdale JE, Mills PJ, Adler KA, Ancoli-Israel S, Grant I. Coping processes and hemostatic reactivity to acute stress in dementia caregivers. Psychosom Med. 2005 Nov-Dec; 67(6):964-71. PMID: 16314602.
      View in: PubMed