Current Research

 

The AME Center conducts research that spans levels, from the social and physical environmental determinants of health, to the cellular aging mechanisms. Since 2005, AME Center researchers have published hundreds of articles and chapters that have contributed critical knowledge to our understanding of the mind-body connection, in an ecological and biopsychosocial context.

Current Studies

The HEAT BED Study

University of California San Francisco scientists hope to determine how a single sauna session affects body temperature. This study is being run by Ashley Mason, PhD, of the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. The purpose of the HEAT BED study is to test whether a single sauna session can raise core body temperature to 38.5 C (101.3 F) and to study how peripheral body temperature changes before and after this single sauna session. 

Participants must be men or women, aged 18-45 years old. If you are interested in enrolling, take 10-minute survey to see if you’re eligible!

For questions or more information, visit the HEAT BED Study website or email [email protected].

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National Health and Growth Study

NGHS is a follow-up study to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Growth and Health Study taking place from 1987 to 1997. NGHS aims to look at how stress affects women's nutrition, health, and weight. In addition, the project focuses on factors related to children's weight, the transmission of stress across generations, and the correlation between race and health. We hope that knowledge acquired from this project and the original study will help improve women and children's health.

NGHS is being conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, in collaboration with researchers from the University of California, San Francisco. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

For more information or to conact the study staff, visit the NGHS Website

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ABC Study

The ABC Study is a pilot intervention to support mothers and their children who may be going through a difficult time. We are conducting a pilot trial of the ABC Program, a family-based intervention for mothers and their 2 to 4 year-old children who may be feeling sad, anxious, and overwhelmed. For more information about the study or to find out if you are eligible, please click on the ABC Study on the UCSF CARE Lab website.

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Sleep and Social Experience Study

The Sleep and Social Experiences (SASE) Study investigates the role of social experiences on sleep. Healthy and normal sleepers are asked to visit our Sleep Lab for two consecutive evenings, during which time they are exposed to a variety of social experience tasks. After, participants sleep overnight in the lab. During sleep, we collect data related to cardiovascular physiology and polysomnography to examine how social experiences “get under the skin” to impact bodily processes and contribute to health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD). 

For more information or to contact study staff, visit https://www.saseucsf.net/

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Stress and Resilience Study (STARS)

Feeling stressed or downAre you a woman between ages 30-60 and in good health?

Help UCSF Researchers study healthy ways to cope.

Join the UCSF Stress and Resilience study that will help to better understand stress and how daily habits such as breathing, physical exercise, or meditation may change how your body responds to stress and improve your mood and physical health. If you join, you may learn a new breathing technique, meditation, or physical exercise that you will practice over 3 weeks at homeand see how it affects your moodhealth and stress. Contributing to science helps us move toward a healthier future for yourself and others like you!
You will also receive up to:

$440 for doing all parts of the study

+ a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card

Find out if you’re eligible to participate today at https://www.stressresilience.net.

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HBI: UCSF Healthy Beverage Initiative Study

Cola being poured into a glassThe AME Lab is currently conducting the Healthy Beverage Initiative Study in conjunction with the UCSF Wellness Center. In response to the strong evidence base linking consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to chronic diseases (including obesity and diabetes), the UCSF Healthy Beverage Initiative (HBI) eliminated the sale of sugar sweetened beverages on all UCSF campuses and hospitals.

The HBI Study is comprised of two parts. The first part, the larger Parent Study, is a wide survey-based study that tracks the sugar sweetened beverage consumption of UCSF employees from before the sales ban to 12 months post-ban. The Metabolic sub-study is comprised of frequent sugary beverage-drinkers from within the Parent Study Sample. We will look at various signs of metabolic health, including body measurements, weight, insulin reactivity, and liver function, before and after the sales ban.

We are actively looking for full- and part-time Research Assistants to work with our HBI team. Please click here for more information regarding joining the HBI team

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Stress Free UC & Stress Free UC +Health

The Stress Free UC Study is a large-scale, randomized control trial examining the relationship between stress and mindfulness in UC employees. It is the first study of its kind, spanning five UC campuses, including UCSF, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, and UC Riverside. This study is fully digital, and participants are asked to use a digital mindfulness application daily. Researchers at UCSF are partnering with the Healthy Campus Network to execute the two components of the Stress Free UCSF Study. The first component, Stress Free UC, is a broad, survey-based study tracking the stress and mindfulness of UCSF employees from before the mindfulness intervention to 12 months post-intervention. The second component, or the Stress Free UC + Health, is examining various signs of biopsychological health, including body measurements and biological indices, in overweight UC employees before and after the meditation intervention. Medical and employment records are also being collected to assess the real-life implications of stress and mindfulness on health.

For more information or to find out if you're eligible visit StressFreeUC.org.

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Past Studies

Social Status, Cellular Aging, and Mortality

Using data from a national health survey, this study will be the first to examine telomere length in a nationally representative sample, expanding on past findings linking socioeconomic status (SES) to shorter telomere length, and telomere length to mortality. The study examines these relationships in a racially and ethnically diverse sample, and moderating effects of genetic vulnerabilities, as well as mediating effects of health behaviors.

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Know Your Telomeres

The Know Your Telomeres Study examined change in telomere length as a function of health behaviors and stress levels over the course of one year in 250, 50 to 65 year old healthy and community-dwelling women. In the study, half the women were told their telomere length at the start of the study, and all women were followed for one year to examine the effects of information about one's own personal telomere length on behaviors, and the possible resulting changes in telomere length at followup.

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Exercise and Cell Aging Study

The Exercise and Cell Aging study is the first human randomized clinical trial that tests whether an aerobic exercise intervention can boost telomerase levels in sedentary and unfit young to mid-life adults. Exercise is well known to benefit individuals biologically, but to date, only cross-sectional work highlights the associations between a healthy physical activity regimen and telomere biology in humans. This study is underway at Columbia University in collaboration with Dr.'s Richard Sloan and Daichi Shimbo, in the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the Psychiatry Department.

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CRONA: Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition & Aging Study

In non-human species like rats, yeast, mice, flies, worms, fish, and even rhesus monkeys, caloric restriction causes lifespan to increase, sometimes by ten-fold. The Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition & Aging (CRONA) study tests whether long-term human calorie restrictors might also have signs of slowed aging. This project is in collaboration with former postdoctoral fellow Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama, now at the Departments of Psychology and Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University.

Learn more about this study from Dr. Janet Tomiyama in this video.

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RARS: The Relaxation and Retreat Study

Does going to a resort for a week have the same effects as being in a meditation retreat, at the same resort? With a collaborative group of researchers, we examined the psychological stress processes, self-identity, and aging biology of healthy women randomized into a resort or meditation retreat group. The retreat group was taught body and mind awareness, mantra meditation, and self-reflection. We are examining the short term changes in cell function and well-being (over days) and a month later.

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SHINE: Supporting Health by Integrating Nutrition and Exercise

SHINE is a clinical trial that examines the effects of two different 6-month weight loss programs for obese, non-diabetic adults on weight, body fat, and psychological well-being. The two programs both include nutrition and exercise components, as well as stress management techniques aimed at long-term weight loss. The key outcomes include weight loss and maintenance, body fat distribution, insulin sensitivity, psychological well-being, stress hormones, immune function, and cell aging.

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SHE: Stress, Hormones, and Eating Study

SHE logoThe SHE study seeks to better understand facets of Food Addiction. It examines how women's levels of stress and natural opioids in the brain are related to weight and cravings for certain comfort foods. Our ultimate goal is to develop a biological test that will help people know how opioid dependent they are, and what type of eating/weight interventions might help them the most.

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MAMAS: Maternal Adiposity, Metabolism, and Stress Study

MAMAS logoCarrying excess weight can increase the risk of health problems during pregnancy, and predicts excess gain during the short period of gestation. The MAMAS study is built on the premise that simple recommendations for diet and exercise may not be enough to help women maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. The goal of the study is to learn if providing stress reduction skills and mindful eating training, in addition to encouraging good nutrition and physical activity, will help low- to middle-income overweight women achieve healthy weight gain during pregnancy and reduce stress. The study will also follow the health and temperament of the babies (led by Nicki Bush, Ph.D.)

Website: http://www.mamasstudy.com

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HEART: Health Enhancement Resilience Training: A mobile health intervention

Outline of a heartDrawing from principles of evidence-based mindfulness stress-reduction, we are developing and testing a smart phone application that aims to reduce stress, increase emotional resilience, and slow the effects of stress related cellular aging. The app will include very brief "in the moment" exercises, social interaction and bio-sensor monitoring (breath-rate and heart rate variability), as well as tracking and feedback. This project includes two main phases, (I) an iterative design approach with rapid prototyping and user feedback to determine effective messaging and feature design and (II) a pilot test of the feasibility, efficacy and effectiveness of the smart phone intervention by assessing app use and engagement, telomere length and other biomarkers of stress and cellular aging, and stress related behaviors.

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Mr. SAGE: Stress, Aging, and Emotions Study in Men

Mr. Sage LogoThis study examines bidirectional effects between daily psychological processes, stress arousal, and nightly sleep, among of fathers of children with autism spectrum disorder. A complementary study to SAGE (see above), it also examines daily dyadic interactions within couples coping with the stress of parenting and how these dynamics affect nightly sleep. Lastly, it examines how these relationships might change after a mindfulness based parenting stress intervention.

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SAGE: The Stress, Aging, and Emotions Study

Plant leavesSAGE, the Stress Aging and Emotions study for parents, is the third in a series of examinations of how the chronic stress of being a family caregiver affects cellular aging. Drawing on a sample of mothers of children on the autism spectrum, the study seeks to understand how psychological stress affects the body and mind. We aim to identify patterns of vulnerability and resilience to stress, to help with development of a hardiness intervention. We measure biological aging primarily by looking at immune cell telomeres, which form the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, as well as telomerase, the reparative enzyme that keeps telomeres in good working order. Telomeres appear to act as a cellular clock that runs faster under physiological and psychological stress. The intensive study of resilient coping will help shape interventions.

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SEED: Stress, Eating, and Early Development Study

Environmental influences during the first years of life, beginning in the womb, are strong determinants for later life health. Accumulating evidence from prenatal programming and developmental research shows how early life stress and poor nutrition can affect health across the life course. Can better nutrition and lower stress during pregnancy improve a baby's nervous system development and metabolism? In this study, we follow the offspring born to women in the MAMA's prenatal intervention study. We examine how offspring body composition, temperament, emotion regulation, and executive function develop over the first four years of life, and whether those babies born to women in the intervention group develop more optimally than those born to women from a "treatment as usual group."

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