Leadership Team

Rebecca C. Thurston, PhD

Rebecca C. Thurston, PhD

Director, Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program

Director, Postdoctoral Program

Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Women’s Health and Dementia
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, Epidemiology, and Clinical & Translational Science
Director, Women’s Biobehavioral Health Program




1996 | Stanford University| BA, Human Biology
2003 | Duke University | PhD, Clinical Health Psychology
2005 | Harvard University | Fellowship, Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar 

Honors and awards:
2009    North American Menopause Society New Investigator Award
2009    North American Menopause Society Vasomotor Symptoms Research Award
2013    Dorothy Dillon Eweson Advances in Aging Research Award
2013    Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, Fellow
2016    Henry Burger Prize, International Menopause Society
2019-20 President, North American Menopause Society

Research interests:
Women’s health
Cardiovascular disease
Brain aging
Trauma and sexual violence
Midlife Aging 

Clinical and/or training interests:
Integrated bio-behavioral health care
Women’s health
Cardiovascular behavioral medicine

Selected publications:

Thurston RC, Chang Y, Matthews KA, von Känel R, Koenen K. Association of sexual harassment and sexual assault with midlife women’s mental and physical health. JAMA Intern Med. 2019 Jan 1; 179(1):48-53. 

Thurston RC, Chang Y, Barinas-Mitchell E, Jennings JR, Landsittel DP, Santoro N, von Känel R, Matthews KA. Menopausal hot flashes and carotid intima media thickness among midlife women. Stroke. 2016 Dec; 47(12):2910-5. 

Thurston RC, Chang Y, von Känel R, Barinas-Mitchell E, Jennings JR, Hall MH, Santoro N, Buysse DJ, Matthews KA. Sleep characteristics and carotid atherosclerosis among midlife women. Sleep. 2017 Feb; 40(2):zsw052. 

Thurston RC, Kubzansky LD, Kawachi I, Berkman LF. Is the association between socioeconomic position and coronary heart disease stronger among women than men? Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Jul; 162(2):57-65. 

See http://thurstonlab.pitt.edu for potential trainee projects


Peter J. Gianaros, PhD

Peter J. Gianaros, PhD

Co-Director, Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program

Director, Predoctoral Program

Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh

1995 | University of Florida | BS, Psychology
2000 | The Pennsylvania State University | PhD, Psychobiology

Honors and awards:
2008    The Herbert Weiner Early Career Award, American Psychosomatic Society
2010    American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Early Career Scientific Contributions to Psychology in Health Psychology 

Research interests:
Neurobiology of psychological stress
Socioeconomic status
Cardiovascular disease risk

Clinical and/or training interests:
Brain imaging

Selected publications:
de Geus EJC, Gianaros PJ, Brindle RC, Jennings JR, Berntson GG. Should heart rate variability be “corrected” for heart rate? Biological, quantitative, and interpretive considerations. Psychophysiology. 2018; 56(2):e13287. 

Gianaros PJ, Sheu LK, Uyar F, Koushik J, Jennings JR, Wager TD, Singh A, Verstynen T. A brain phenotype for stressor-evoked cardiovascular reactivity. JAm Heart Assoc. 2017. http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/6/9/e006053

Kraynak TE, Marsland AL, Wager TD, Gianaros PJ. Functional neuroanatomy of peripheral inflammatory physiology: A meta-analysis of human neuroimaging studies. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018; 94:76-92. 

Lockwood KG, Marsland AL, Matthews KA, Gianaros PJ. Perceived discrimination and cardiovascular health disparities: A multi-system review and health neuroscience perspective. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2018; 1428:170-207.

See http://bnl.pitt.edu for potential trainee projects.

Matthew F. Muldoon, MD, MPH, FAHA

Matthew F. Muldoon, MD, MPH, FAHA

Co-Director, Postdoctoral Program

Professor of Medicine, Psychology and Epidemiology

1980 | Southern Illinois University | BA, Physiology
1984 | University of Illinois, Chicago | MD, Medicine
1989 | University of Pittsburgh | Fellowship, Clinical Pharmacology
1989 | University of Pittsburgh | Fellowship, Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine
1994 | University of Pittsburgh | MPH, Epidemiology

Honors and awards:
1982    Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
1997    Fellow, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research

Research interests:
Psychosocial correlates of cardiovascular disease
Effects of diet and physical activity on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk
Mechanisms linking psychosocial factors to cardiovascular disease
Behavioral interventions to control hypertension and prevent cardiovascular disease
Uses of mobile technologies and social media to control hypertension reduce cardiovascular disease

Clinical and/or training interests:
Diagnosis and management of problematic hypertension

Selected publications:
Muldoon MF, Ryan CM, Yao, JK, Conklin SM, and Manuck SB. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and optimization of cognitive performance. Military Medicine 2014;179(11):95-105.

Ginty A, Muldoon MF, Kuan CHK, Kamarck TK, Jennings JR, Manuck SB, Gianaros PJ. Omega-3 supplementation and the neural correlates of negative affect and impulsivity: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in midlife adults. Psychosomatic Medicine 2017;79:549-56.

Muldoon MF, Kronish IM, Shimbo D. Of signal and noise: Overcoming challenges in blood pressure measurement to optimize hypertension care. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes 2018;11:e004543.

Irizarry T, Allen M, Suffoletto SP, Einhorn J, Burke LE, Kamarck TW, Rollman BL, Muldoon MF. Development and Preliminary Feasibility of an Automated Hypertension Self-Management System. American Journal of Medicine, doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2018.04.038.

Potential trainee projects:
With input from patients, providers and administrators, Dr. Muldoon and colleagues developed and tested the feasibility of MyBP as an automated self-management program for individuals with hypertension. To address hypertension literacy, MyBP begins with hypertension education delivered at the patient’s convenience via commercially-available videos. This is followed by longitudinal, automated and bidirectional text-messaging to assist patients in systematic BP measurement and tracking. This includes personalized BP reports. Ongoing research seeks to optimize the program for engagement and BP control, and study implementation strategies for primary care settings.

Stephen B. Manuck, PhD

Stephen B. Manuck, PhD

Co-Director, Predoctoral Program

Distinguished University Professor of Health Psychology and Behavior Medicine

1970 | University of California-Davis | BA, Psychology
1974 | Vanderbilt University |PhD, Clinical Psychology

1992-93 and 2012-13 President, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research
1999 Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology Award, American Psychological Association
2012 Patricia R. Barchas Award in Sociophysiology, American Psychosomatic Society
2013 Psychological Science Distinguished Alumnus Award, Vanderbilt University
2014 Provost Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring, University of Pittsburgh

Research Interests:
Psychosocial antecedents of cardiovascular disease
Personality, sociodemographic and other biobehavioral predictors of midlife aging
Gene-environment interaction
Life history theory in behavioral medicine

Selected publications:
Manuck SB, McCaffery JM. (2014). Gene-environment interaction. Ann Rev Psychol. 2014;65:41-70.

Dermody SS, Wright AG, Cheong J, Miller KA, Muldoon MF, Flory JD, Gianaros PJ, Marsland AL, Manuck SB. Personality correlates of midlife cardiometabolic risk: The explanatory role of higher-order factors of the Five-Factor Model. J Personality. 2015; 84(6): 765-776.

Kaplan JR, Manuck SB. Premenopausal reproductive health modulates future cardiovascular risk – comparative evidence from monkeys and women. Yale J Biol Med. 2017;90:499-507.

Walsh CP, Lim A, Marsland AL, Ferrell RE, Manuck SB. Circulating interleukin-6 concentration covaries inversely with self-reported sleep duration as a function of polymorphic variation in the glucocorticoid receptor. Brain Behav Immun. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.01.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Wright AGC, Creswell KG, Flory JD, Muldoon MF, Manuck SB. Neurobiological functioning and the personality trait hierarchy: Central serotonergic responsivity and the stability meta-trait. Psychol Sci. (2019, in press).

Potential trainee projects:
Dr. Manuck and Dr. Marsland co-direct the Adult Health and Behavior (AHAB) project, which provides a registry of contemporary behavioral and biological measurements for the study of midlife individual differences. The registry comprises data collected on two community-based cohorts (termed AHAB1 and AHAB2), each of which included extensive assessments of lifetime socio-demographics; personality and temperament; psychiatric history and symptomatology; social relationships; cognitive functioning; chronic disease risk factors and health practices; medical history and instrumented evaluations of cardiovascular, autonomic, metabolic, and immune/inflammatory variables, as well as genetic variation in pathways germane to registry phenotypes. AHAB2 also includes structural and functional neuroimaging on all study participants. The two AHAB cohorts were recently combined as a platform for the longitudinal study of midlife aging and are presently being followed up after 11-16 years in wave-2 of data collection. Current interests of the investigators include the study of socioeconomic and psychosocial predictors of cardiometabolic, cognitive, brain and cellular aging.

Associated Training Faculty

Emma Barinas-Mitchell, PhD

Emma Barinas-Mitchell, PhD

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Clinical and Translational Science
Director, Ultrasound Research Laboratory
Co-Director, Cardiovascular Epidemiology Training Program

1991 | Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA | BA Chemistry
1998 | University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA | PhD Epidemiology
2001 | University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA | Post-doctoral training in CVD Epidemiology

Research interests:
Application of subclinical CVD imaging methods in CVD epidemiological research
Cardiometabolic risk factors related to vascular aging
Vascular aging in women
Racial/ethnic health disparity

Training interests:
Co-Director, CVD Epidemiology T-32, University of Pittsburgh
Actively mentor students and trainees at the master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral level

Selected Publications:

Barinas-Mitchell E, Duan C, Brooks M, El Khoudary SR, Thurston RC, Matthews KA, Jackson EA, Lewis TT, Derby CA. Cardiovascular disease risk factor burden during the menopausal transition and late midlife subclinical vascular disease: Does race/ethnicity matter? J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 Feb 18;9(4). PMID: 32063114.

Cortés YI, Barinas-Mitchell E, Suder Egnot N, Bhasin S, Jasuja R, Santoro N, Thurston RC. Associations of endogenous sex hormones with carotid plaque burden and characteristics in midlife women. JCEM. 2020 Apr 1; 105(4).

Thurston R, Wu M, Aizenstein H, Chang Y, Barinas-Mitchell E, Derby C, Maki P. Sleep Characteristics and White Matter Hyperintensities Among Midlife Women. SLEEP. 2019 Dec 21.

See https://www.url.pitt.edu/ for ongoing projects.


Cynthia A. Conklin, Ph.D.

Cynthia A. Conklin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry

1994 | University of Delaware | BA, Psychology
2001 | Purdue University | PhD, Clinical Psychology
2003 | University of Pittsburgh| Postdoctoral Fellowship, Behavioral Medicine

Honors and awards:
2005    Wyeth Young Psychopharmacologist Award – APA (Div. 28)

2010    Junior Faculty Scholar Award – University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center
2011    Jarvik-Russell Early Career Award – Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco

Research interests:
Addiction research and treatment development
Nicotine dependence
Cue-reactivity, personalized cues, cue combinations
tDCS brain stimulation
Addiction among adults with serious mental illness (SMI)
Application of cue-based research to non-addiction disorders

Clinical and training interests:
Nicotine dependence
Smoking cessation for smokers with SMI
CBT to treat addiction
Cue-exposure therapies

Selected Publications:
Conklin CA, Tiffany ST. The application of conditioning research and theory to cue-exposure treatments for addictive behaviors. Addiction. 2002;97:155-167.

Conklin CA, Vella EJ, Joyce CJ, Salkeld RP, Perkins KA, Parzynski C. Examining the relationship between cue-induced craving and actual smoking. J Exp Clin Psychopharmacol, 2015;23:90-6.

Conklin CA, McClernon FJ, Vella EJ, Joyce CJ, Salkeld RP, Parzynski CS, Bennett L. Combined smoking cues enhance reactivity and predict immediate subsequent smoking. Nicotine Tob Res. 2018;21(2):241-248.

Perkins KA, Conklin CA, Levine MD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for smoking cessation: a practical guidebook to the most effective treatments. Taylor & Francis. 2008.

Esa Matius Davis, MD, MPH, FAAFP

Esa Matius Davis, MD, MPH, FAAFP

Associate Professor of Medicine and Clinical and Translational Medicine
Director, Career Education and Enhancement for Health Care Research Diversity (CEED) program, Institute of Clinical Research Education
Associate Director Clinical and Translation Science KL2 Scholars program


1993 | University of North Carolina | BS, Biology
1997| University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey| MD, Medicine
2002 | Johns Hopkins University | MPH, Epidemiology
2002 | Johns Hopkins University | Fellowship, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program
2003 | Johns Hopkins University | Fellowship, NRSA, Research/General Internal Medicine

Honors and Awards:
2011    Junior Faculty Scholars Award Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
2012    Inducted Fellow into American Academy of Family Physicians
2013    New Pittsburgh Courier’s 2013 Women of Excellence
2014    University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Excellence in Teaching, Small Group Facilitator Award
2014    American Heart/American Stroke Association Leadership Recognition Award
2018    UPMC General Internal Medicine Division Most Valuable Player Award

Research interests:
Obesity-related health disparities in women and children
Relationship of psychosocial factors, insulin resistance and perinatal weight change in the development of obesity and cardiovascular disease in women
Treatment of tobacco use in hospitalized patients

Clinical/Training interests:
Director, Tobacco Treatment Service at UPMC Presbyterian/Montefiore Hospitals
Primary care for adults and children
Women’s health
Improving the pipeline for underrepresented minorities and women in research and medicine

Selected publications:
Davis EM, Scifres CM, Abebe K, Costacou T, Comer D, Catalano P, Simhan H, Freiberg M, Day N. Comparison of Birth Outcomes by Gestational Diabetes Screening Criteria. AJP Rep. 2018 Oct;8(4):e280-e288. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1675343. Epub 2018 Oct 29.

Feterik K, Ylioja T, Schulze AE, Douaihy A, Abebe KZ, Davis EM. Hospitalists’ Role in Improving Prescriptions of Nicotine Replacement Therapy Among Tobacco Users During Hospitalization and at Discharge. J Gen Intern Med. 2019 Mar;34(3):333-335.

Davis EM, Ewald G, Givertz MM, Rajagopalan N, Cooper LT Jr, Briller J, Felker GM, Bozkurt B, Drazner MH, Hanley-Yanez K, Halder I, McTiernan CF, McNamara DM; IPAC Investigators. Maternal Obesity Affects Cardiac Remodeling and Recovery in Women with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. Am J Perinatol. 2019 Apr;36(5):476-483.

Mendez DD, Sanders SS, Lai Y, Wallace ML, Rathbun SL, Gary-Webb, T, Davis EM, Burke LE. Ecological momentary assessment of stress, racism and other forms of discrimination during pregnancy using smartphone technology. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 2020 Jan 13; (00):1-10 DOI: 10.11111/ppe.12619 PMID: 31930744

Rigotti NA, Schnitzer K, Davis EM, Regan S, Chang, Y, Kelley J, Notier AE, Gillam K, Douaihy A, Levy DE, Singer DE, Tindale HA. Comparative effectiveness of post-discharge strategies for hospitalized smokers: Study protocol for the Helping Hand 4 randomized control trial. Trials. 2020 Apr 16;21(1):336 (1-12) PMID: 32299470 PMCID: PMC7164139


Kirk I. Erickson, PhD

Kirk I. Erickson, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychology
Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition

1999 | Marquette University | BA, Psychology, Philosophy, Biology
2005 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | PhD, Cognitive Neuroscience
2008 | University of Illinios | Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology, Neuroscience

Honors and awards:
2013    Neal Miller Young Investigator Award from Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research
2014    University of Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program Visiting Faculty Scholar
2014    Senior Beckman Institute Fellow, University of Illinois
2015    Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award
2016    Fellow, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research

Research interests:
Understanding the influence of exercise on brain and psychological outcomes
Identifying the mechanisms by which exercise influences brain outcomes
Contributing to evidence-based policies on exercise behaviors
Determining factors that moderate the influence of exercise on brain and behavior
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to examine brain and behavior
Studying the impact of exercise on brain and behavior outcomes in the context of breast cancer
Health disparities research and clinical trials to minimize health disparities

Clinical and training interests:
Training of undergraduate, graduate, and post-docs
Mentoring for grant applications
Guidance in the development of clinical trials
Training in neuroimaging methodology

Selected publications:
Erickson KI, Voss MW, Prakash RS, Basak C, Szabo A, Chaddock L, Kim JS, Heo S, Alves H, White SM, Wojcicki TR, Mailey E, Vieira VJ, Martin SA, Pence BP, Woods JA, McAuley E, Kramer AF. (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proc Nat Acad Sci. 2011;108:3017-22.

Erickson, KI, Creswell, JD, Verstynen, T, Gianaros, PJ. (2014). Health Neuroscience: Defining a new field. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2014; 23:446-53.

Leckie RL, Oberlin LE, Voss MW, Prakash RS, Szabo-Reed A, Chaddock-Heyman L, Phillips SM, Gothe NP, Mailey E, Vieira-Potter VJ, Martin SA, Pence BD, Lin M, Parasuraman R, Greenwood PM, Fryxell KJ, Woods JA, McAuley E, Kramer AF, Erickson KI. BDNF mediates improvements in executive function following a 1-year exercise intervention. Front Hum Neurosci, 2014; 8:985.

Erickson, KI, Hillman, C, Stillman, CM, Ballard, RM, Bloodgood, B, Conroy, DE, Macko, R, Marquez, DX, Petruzzello, SJ, Powell, KE. Physical Activity, Cognition, and Brain Outcomes: A Review of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019; 51:1242-51.

See www.bachlab.pitt.edu for potential trainee projects.

Daniel Forman, MD

Daniel Forman, MD

Professor of Medicine, Divisions of Cardiology and Geriatric Medicine

1979 | Brown University | AB, Religious studies
1986 | George Washington University | MD, Medicine
1991 | Harvard Medical School | Clinical and Research Fellow, Geriatric Medicine
1994 | Harvard Medical School | Clinical and Research Fellow, Cardiovascular Medicine

Honors and awards:
2014    Leadership Award, American College of Cardiology
2016    VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Outstanding Contribution to Science (Medical)

Research Interests:
Cardiac rehabilitation
Geriatric cardiology
Physical function in older adults
Exercise and cognition

Clinical and/or training interests:
Geriatric medicine
Cardiar rehabilitation
Promotion of exercise in older adults

Selected publications:
Forman DE, Maurer MS, Boyd C, Brindis R, Salive ME, Horne FM, Bell SP, Rich MW. Multimorbidity in older adults with cardiovascular disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71:2149-61.

Orkaby AR, Forman DE. Physical activity and cardiovascular disease in older adults: an expert’s perspective. Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2018;16:1-10.

Forman DE, Korytkowski MT. Management of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in the Older Adult Patient With Diabetes. Diabetes Care 2017;40:476–484.

Coats A, Forman DE, Haykowsky, M, Kitzman D, McNeil A, Campbell T, Arena R. Physical Function, Physical Activity and Exercise Training in the Older Patient with Heart Failure. Nat Rev Cardiol. 2017;14:550-559.

Potential trainee projects:
Thematic emphasis 1, now funded by R01 AG060499 (Modified Application of Cardiac Rehabilitation for Older Adults [MACRO]): Enhancing cardiac rehabilitation to improve the process and outcomes for older adults with cardiovascular disease. Related interests in enhanced risk stratification (identifying and addressing geriatric and cardiovascular risks in aggregate), expanded models of care (home-, facility-, and hybrid-based cardiac rehabilitation), incorporating risks and management in relation to anticipated cognitive impairments (particularly executive cognition), de-prescribing sedating medications as part of cardiac rehab care, and incorporating novel motivational techniques (Enhanced Medical Rehab, with Eric Lentz) as part of our novel approach.

Thematic emphasis 2, now funded by 1R01AG058883-01A1 (Nitrite therapy to improve mitochondrial energetics and physical activity in older adults: Study of the utility sodium nitrite to improve mitochondrial metabolism and related impact on cardiorespiratory fitness. The grant focuses primarily on physical functional benefits (reduced fatigability). However, changes in physical activity and quality of life are also assessed in preliminary way, with hopes of a subsequent larger clinical trial. Potential to study changes in cognition from nitrite effects.

Martica H. Hall, PhD

Martica H. Hall, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science

1989 | University of Memphis | BA, Psychology
1993 | Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | MS
1995 | University of Pittsburgh | PhD, Biospychology
1995-1998 | University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine | Postdoctoral Scholar, Clinical Sleep Medicine

Honors and awards:
2004    Neal E. Miller New Investigator Award for Early Career Contributions to Behavioral Medicine, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research
2011    Fellow, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research
2019    Sleep Research Society Mary A. Carskadon Outstanding Educator Award

Research interests:
Psychosocial determinants of sleep and circadian rhythms
Impact of race/ethnicity and sex on sleep and circadian rhythms
Sleep and circadian rhythms as mechanisms of health and disease
Role of sleep and circadian rhythms in health disparities

Training interests:
Co-Director, Translational Research Training in Sleep Medicine T32 (HL082610)
Training Faculty, Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine T32 (HL07560)
Training Faculty, Clinical and Translational Research Training in Geriatric Mental Health (MH019986)
Training Faculty, VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Selected publications:
Brindle RC, Cribbet MR, Samuelsson LB, Gao C, Frank E, Krafty RT, Thayer JF, Buysse DJ, Hall M. The relationship between childhood trauma and poor sleep health in adulthood. Psychosom Med, 80(2):200-7, 2018.

Hall M, Mulukutla S, Kline CE, Samuelsson LB, Taylor BJ, Thayer JF, Krafty RT, Frank E, Kupfer DJ: Objective sleep duration is prospectively associated with endothelial health. Sleep, 40(1):zsw003, 2017.

Hall M, Brindle RC, Buysse DJ: Sleep and cardiovascular disease: Emerging opportunities for psychology. American Psychologist, 73(8):994-1006, 2018.

Bowman MA, Duggan KA, Brindle RC, Kline CE, Krafty RT, Thayer JF, Hall M. Prospective associations among objectively and subjectively assessed sleep and the metabolic syndrome. Sleep Medicine, 58:1-6, 2019.

See www.sleep.pitt.edu for potential trainee projects.


Thomas W. Kamarck, PhD

Thomas W. Kamarck, PhD

Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry

1978 | Haverford College | BA, Psychology
1986 | University of Oregon | PhD, Psychology
1988 | University of Pittsburgh | Postdoctoral fellowship, Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine

Honors and awards:
1991    Distinguished Early Career Contributions Award, Society for Psychophysiological Research
2000    Fellow, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research

Research interests:
The contribution of daily life processes (stressors, emotional states, social interactions, and their psychophysiologic consequences) to cardiovascular health risk.
Personality and affective characteristics (hostility, depressive symptoms) associated with disease risk and the biological and behavioral mechanisms explaining their influence.
Measuring psychosocial stress exposure using ecological momentary assessment and structured interview methods.
“Cardiovascular reactivity” hypothesis—Evaluating the role of stress sensitivity/responsiveness in contributing to the development of atherosclerosis in humans.

Clinical and/or training interests:
Ecological momentary assessment and ambulatory monitoring methods.
Evaluating the effectiveness of psychological, behavioral, and pharmacological strategies designed to mitigate effects of psychosocial processes on disease risk.

Selected publications:

Dickman KD, Thomas MC, Anderson B, Manuck SB, Kamarck TW. Social integration and diurnal cortisol decline: The role of psychosocial and behavioral pathways. Psychosom Med. 2020; 82: 568-576.

Kamarck TW, Li X, Wright AGC, Muldoon MF, Manuck SB. Ambulatory blood pressure reactivity as a moderator in the association between daily life psychosocial stress and carotid artery atherosclerosis. Psychosom Med. 2018; 80:774-782.

Thomas MC, Kamarck TW, Li X, Erickson KI, Manuck SB. Physical activity moderates the effects of daily psychosocial stressors on ambulatory blood pressure. Health Psychol. 2019; 38:925-935.

Bajaj A, John-Henderson NA, Cundiff JM, Marsland AL, Manuck SB, Kamarck TW. Daily social interactions, close relationships, and systemic inflammation in two samples: Healthy middle-aged and older adults. Brain Behav Immun. 2016; 58:152-164.

Joseph NT, Kamarck TW, Muldoon MF, Manuck SB. Daily marital interaction quality and carotid artery intima medial thickness in healthy middle aged adults. Psychosom Med. 2014; 76:347-35.

Potential trainee projects:
Our laboratory specializes in the use of ambulatory monitoring methods for the assessment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. At the present time, we are involved in a collaborative project that examines the extent to which behavioral and biological responses to daily life experiences may have implications for CVD, and the potential mediators and moderators of such effects. A large group of middle-aged community adults are monitored over a representative week, at work and at home, using electronic diary assessments and measures of ambulatory physiology (blood pressure, physical activity, sleep assessments) along with other laboratory-based assessments of brain activity and preclinical markers of CVD. We are examining a) how differences in daily life stress exposure, along with differences in susceptibility to the effects of stress, may interact in the prediction of preclinical cardiovascular disease; b) whether these differences may be driven, in part, by brain circuits that generate differences in stress susceptibility, and c) the extent to which these effects may be moderated, in part, by individual differences in lifestyle differences in physical activity.


Michele D. Levine, PhD

Michele D. Levine, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences
Director, Clinical Psychology Internship and Postdoctoral Training Program

1990 | University of Pennsylvania | BA, Biological Basis of Behavior
1999 | University of Pittsburgh | PhD. Clinical and Health Psychology
1999-2002 | University of Pittsburgh | Postdoctoral Fellowship, Behavioral Medicine

Honors and awards:
2008    Junior Scholar Award in Biobehavioral Health Research, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
2014    The Obesity Society, Fellow
2017    Society of Behavioral Medicine, Fellow
2017    Emerging Mentorship Award, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic

Research interests:
Health behaviors during pregnancy and the postpartum period
Weight-related behaviors and disordered eating
Clinical trials

Clinical and/or training interests:
Women’s mental health
Issues related to clinical scientist training

Selected publications:
Levine MD, Cheng Y, Marcus MD & Emery RL. Psychiatric disorders and gestational weight gain among women who quit smoking during pregnancy J Psychosom Res. 2015; 78(5):504-8.

Levine MD, Cheng Y, Marcus MD, Kalarchian MA, Emery RL. Preventing postpartum smoking relapse: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176:443-52.

Germeroth L, Benno MT, Kolko Conlon RP, Emery RL, Cheng Y, Grace J, Salk RH, & Levine MD. Trial design and methodology for a non-restricted sequential multiple assignment randomized trial to evaluate combinations of perinatal interventions to optimize women’s health. Contemp Clin Trials. 2019;79:111-121.

Kolko RP, Emery RL, Marcus MD & Levine MD. Loss of control over eating prior to and during early pregnancy among community women with overweight and obesity. Int J Eat Disord. 2017;50:582-586.

See www.phab.pitt.edu/ for potential trainee projects.


Carissa A. Low, PhD

Carissa A. Low, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Psychology, and Biomedical Informatics

2000 | University of Wisconsin-Madison| BS, Psychology
2008 | University of California at Los Angeles | PhD, Clinical Psychology
2012 | University of Pittsburgh | Postdoctoral Fellowship, Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine

Honors and awards:
2015    University of Pittsburgh Steven D. Manners Faculty Development Award
2017    NIH Mobile Health Training Institute Scholar

Research interests:
Using smartphones and wearable sensors to assess and modify behavioral risk factors
Integrating patient-generated health data into clinical care

Clinical and/or training interests:
Mobile health technology for behavioral assessment and intervention
Behavioral interventions in chronic medical illness

Selected publications:
Low, CA, Bovbjerg DH, Ahrendt S, Alhelo S, Choudry H, Holtzman M, Jones HL, Pingpank JF, Ramalingam L, Zeh H, Zureikat AH, Bartlett DL. Depressive symptoms in patients scheduled for hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy with cytoreductive surgery: Prospective associations with morbidity and mortality. J Clin Oncol. 2016;34:1217-1222.

Low CA., Bovbjerg DH, Ahrendt S, Choudry MH, Holtzman M, Jones HL, Pingpank JF, Ramalingam L, Zeh HJ, Zureikat AH, Bartlett DL. Fitbit step counts during inpatient recovery from cancer surgery as a predictor of readmission. Annals Behav Med. 2018; 52:88-92.

Low CA., Dey AK, Ferreira D, Kamarck T, Sun W, Bae S, Doryab A. Estimation of symptom severity during chemotherapy from passively sensed data: Exploratory study. J Med Internet Res. 2017;19:e420.

Low CA, Thurston RC, Matthews KA. (2010). Psychosocial factors in the development of heart disease in women: Current research and future directions. Psychosom Med. 2010; 72:842-854.

Potential trainee projects:

Anna L. Marsland, PhD, RN

Anna L. Marsland, PhD, RN

Professor of Psychology and Nursing
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Translational Science

1984 | John Radcliffe School of Nursing, Oxford | RN
1988 | University College, London | BS, Psychology
1997 | University of Pittsburgh | PhD, Clinical Health Psychology

Honors and awards:
2011    Fellow, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research

Research interests:
Impact of psychosocial factors on immune parameters of relevance for physical health
Bidirectional pathways linking the central nervous and immune systems
Psychological and social factors that predict risk for accelerated neurocognitive and physical aging across midlife
Impact of psychological stress on mitochondria

Clinical and/or training interests:
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Clinical Supervisor in the Clinical Program at the University of Pittsburgh
Specialized in CBT and ACT
Director of the Behavioral Immunology Laboratory – a resource for trainees interested in learning how to measure aspects of immune function.

Selected publications:
Marsland AL, Gianaros PJ, Kuan DCH, Sheu LK, Krajina K, Manuck SB. Brain morphology links systemic inflammation to cognitive function in midlife adults. Brain Behav Immun. 2015; 48:195-204.

Marsland AL, Walsh C, Lockwood K, John-Henderson NA. The effects of acute psychological stress on circulating and stimulated inflammatory markers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Brain Behavior Immun. 2018; 64:208-219.

Walsh CP, Ewing LJ, Cleary JL, Vaisleib AD, Farrell CH, Wright AGC, Gray K, Marsland AL. Development of glucocorticoid resistance over one year among mothers of children newly diagnosed with cancer. Brain Behav Immun. 2018; 69:364-373.

Trumpff C, Marsland AL, Basualto-Alarcón C, Martin JL, Carroll JE, Sturm G, Vincent AE, Mosharov EV, Gu Z, Kaufman BA, Picard M. Acute psychological stress increases serum circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019;106:268-276.

Kraynak TE, Marsland AL, Wager TD, Gianaros PJ. (2018). Functional neuroanatomy of peripheral inflammatory physiology: A meta-analysis of human neuroimaging studies. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018;94:76-92.

Potential trainee projects:
Dr. Marsland’s research program focuses on the association of psychosocial processes with risk for disease of aging, with a focus on the role of immune mechanisms. Currently funded projects include (1) a large longitudinal study examining the impact of socioeconomics and other psychosocial factors on biological processes and neurocognitive aging across midlife; (2) a laboratory study examining the impact of stress on mitochondrial function; and (3) a number of other studies that examine the association of psychological characteristics and experiences with inflammatory processes.  Data is available from these and other competed projects, permitting post-doctoral scholars to examine association of different psychological constructs with cardiovascular and brain health in midlife.

Kathleen M. McTigue, MD, MPH, MS

Kathleen M. McTigue, MD, MPH, MS

Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology

1989 | University of Notre Dame | BS, Biology
1992 | University of Wisconsin | MS, Zoology
1996 | University of Connecticut | MD
1996 | University of Connecticut | MPH, Public Health
1996-1999 | University of Colorado | Intern and Resident, Internal Medicine
2000–2002 | University of North Carolina | Clinical Scholar, Robert Wood Johnson; Resident, Preventive Medicine

Honors and awards:
2008 Pitt Innovator Award, University of Pittsburgh
2014 Co-Recipient (with Dr. Gordon Mitchell), Provost’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence Awards
2019 Institute for Clinical Research Education Excellence in Teaching Award

Research interests:
The epidemiology of obesity and physical activity
Use of technology to facilitate translation of evidence-based health interventions into the clinical setting
Relationships between obesity and mental health
Chronic disease prevention
Novel approaches to stakeholder engagement
Integration of research with routine delivery of care

Clinical and/or training interests:
Quality improvement for primary care
Clinical research education for clinicians

Selected publications:
Arterburn D, Wellman R, Emiliano A, Smith SR, Odegaard AO, Murali S, Williams N, Coleman KJ, Courcoulas A, Coley RY, Anau J, Pardee R, Toh S, Janning C, Cook A, Sturtevant J, Horgan C, McTigue KM for the PCORnet Bariatric Study Collaborative. Comparative Effectiveness of Bariatric Procedures for Weight Loss and Safety: A PCORnet Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med. 2018; 169(11):741-750.

Hanna RM, Fischer G, Conroy M, Bryce C, Hess R, McTigue KM. Primary care providers’ response to an online lifestyle modification intervention. J Med Internet Res. 2018; 20(6): e167.

Conroy, MB, Bryce CL, McTigue KM, Tudorascu D, Gibbs BB, Comer D, Hess R, Huber K, Simkin-Silverman LR, Fischer GS. Promoting weight maintenance with electronic health record tools in a primary care setting: baseline results from the MAINTAIN-pc trial. Contemp Clin Trials. 2017; 54: 60-67.

McTigue KM, Fear D, Hunter K, Karanam S, Uhrig J, Alston T, Dillon S, Faust J, Kim J, LaRosa A, Postol B, Umegbolu S, Hamm M. The development of a patient and caregiver narrative archive to support patient-centered research. Eur J Pers Cent Healthc. 2018; 6(4):565-570.

See www.Pathnetwork.org for potential trainee projects.


Kenneth A. Perkins, PhD

Kenneth A. Perkins, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, and Psychology

1976 | Oberlin College | BA, Psychology
1982 | University of Iowa | PhD, Clinical Psychology
1986 | University of Pittsburgh Medical Center | Post-doctoral fellow, Behavioral Medicine

Honors and awards:
1989    Outstanding New Researcher Award, from the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy
1993    Fellow, Society of Behavioral Medicine
1994    Fellow, American Psychological Association
2017    Inaugural Fellows cohort, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco
2020    Recipient, Med-Associates Brady-Schuster Award for outstanding behavioral science research contributions (Amer Psychol Assoc, Div 28: Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse) 

Research interests:
Acute effects of nicotine that promote tobacco dependence
Discriminative stimulus effects of nicotine
More efficient screening for efficacy in novel medications for smoking cessation

Clinical and/or training interests:
Treatment of smoking cessation
Application of new technologies to assessments in smoking research

Selected publications:
Perkins KA, Lerman C. An efficient early Phase 2 procedure to screen medications for efficacy in smoking cessation. Psychopharmacology. 2014; 231:1-11.

Perkins KA, Karelitz JL, Boldry MA. Nicotine acutely enhances reinforcement from non-drug rewards in humans. Front Psychiatry. 2017; 8:65.

Perkins KA. Research on behavioral discrimination of nicotine may inform FDA policy on setting a maximum nicotine content in cigarettes. Nicotine Tob Res. 2019; 21 (suppl 1): S5-S12.

Perkins KA, Karelitz JL. Differences in acute reinforcement across reduced nicotine content cigarettes. Psychopharmacol. 2020; 237: 1885-1891.

Shoaib M, Perkins KA. Preclinical and clinical research on the discriminative stimulus effects of nicotine. Neuropharmacol. 2020; 170:108063.

See kenperkins.info/ for ongoing projects.


Rebecca G. Reed, PhD

Rebecca G. Reed, PhD

Assistant Professor

2010 | The University of Arizona | BS, Physiology
2012 | The University of Arizona | MS, Family Studies and Human Development
2015 | The University of Arizona | PhD, Family Studies and Human Development

Honors and Awards:

2016       Butler-Williams Scholar, National Institution on Aging
2021       Early-Stage Investigator Award, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research

Research Interests:

Biopsychosocial factors and immunological aging, biological aging
Stress and emotion regulation
Quantitative measurement and methodology

Training Interests:

Quantitative methods

Selected Publications:  

Reed RG. Stress and immunological aging. Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2019; 28:38-43.

Reed RG., Presnell SR, Al-Attar A, Lutz CT, Segerstrom SC. Perceived stress, cytomegalovirus titers, and late-differentiated T and NK cells: Between- and within-person associations in a longitudinal study of older adults. Brain Behav Immun. 2019; 80:266-274.

Reed RG, Greenberg RN, Segerstrom SC. Cytomegalovirus serostatus, inflammation, and antibody response to influenza vaccination in older adults: The moderating effect of beta blockade. Brain Behav Immun. 2017;61:14-20.

Reed RG, O’Connor M-F, Pace TWW, Raison CL, Butler EA. Dyadic coping and salivary interleukin-6 responses to interpersonal stress. J Fam Psychol. 2017;31:367-373.

Reed RG, Weihs KL, Sbarra DS, Breen EC, Irwin MR, Butler EA. Emotional acceptance, inflammation, and sickness symptoms across the first two years following breast cancer diagnosis. Brain Behav Immun. 2016; 56: 165-174.

See www.pniresearchlab.com for potential trainee projects.

Bruce L Rollman, MD, MPH

Bruce L Rollman, MD, MPH

UPMC Endowed Chair in General Internal Medicine
Director, Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology
Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, Biomedical Informatics,
and Clinical and Translational Science


1984 | University of Pennsylvania | BA, Biology
1988 | Jefferson Medical College | MD, Medicine
1993 | Johns Hopkins University | MPH, Epidemiology

Honors and awards:
1997   Junior Faculty Award Candidate, Society of General Internal Medicine
2003, 2004   Exchange Faculty to Osaka, Pittsburgh-Japan Program, University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine
2006   Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, elected
2010   Research Award Presentation, Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine
2013   Invited speaker, White House Behavioral Health IT Innovations Conference
2017   Fellow, American College of Physicians (invited)

Research interests:
Clinical Trials
Mental Health Services Research
Primary Care
Mobile Health
Behavioral Health

Selected publications:
Donohue JM, Herbeck Belnap B, Men A, He F, Roberts MS, Schulberg HC, Reynolds CF, Rollman BL. 12-Month Cost-Effectiveness of Telephone-Delivered Collaborative Care for Treating Depression Following CABG Surgery. Gen Hosp Psych. 2014; 36:453-9. PMID: 24973911

Schuster JM, Herbeck Belnap B, Roth LH, Rollman BL. The Checklist Manifesto in Action: Integrating Depression Treatment into Routine Cardiac Care. Gen Hosp Psych. 2016. 40:1-3.

Rollman BL, Herbeck Belnap B, Abebe KZ, Spring MB, Rotondi AJ, Rothenberger SD, Karp JF. Effectiveness of Online Collaborative Care for Treating Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psych. 2018;75:56-64. PMID: 29117275

Herbeck Belnap B, Anderson A, Abebe KZ, Ramani R, Muldoon MF, Karp JF, Rollman BL. Blended Collaborative Care to Treat Heart Failure and Co-Morbid Depression: Rationale and Study Design of the Hopeful Heart Trial. Psychosom Med. 2019 81:495-505. PMID: 31083056

Rollman BL, Brent DA. Phonotype: A new Taxonomy for mHealth Research. J Gen Intern Med. 2019 (online-ahead-of-print) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-019-05407-7 PMID 31705476

See http://www.healthtech.pitt.edu/ for potential trainee projects.


Elizabeth M. Venditti, Ph.D.

Elizabeth M. Venditti, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology
Director, Diabetes Prevention Support Center

1978 | Brown University| BA, Psychology
1983 | University of Pittsburgh | MS, Clinical Psychology

1989 | University of Pittsburgh | PhD, Clinical Psychology

Honors and Awards:
2009-2018    Pitt Innovator Award for Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) Group Lifestyle Balance Training/Master Training Curricula and Workshops

Research Interests:
Behavioral lifestyle interventions for overweight/obesity in high risk groups at critical developmental periods (pre-diabetes, diabetes, metabolic syndrome in adolescents and in older adults)
Collaborative care and integrated interventions for co-morbid obesity and depressive symptoms
Utility of group-telephone interventions with adults 65+ to maintain functional health (physical and mental)

Clinical/Training Interests:
Training allied health professionals in the delivery of evidence-based programs for disease prevention

Selected publications:
Ma J, Goldman Rosas L, Lv N, Xiao L, Snowden MB, Venditti EM, Lewis MA, Goldhaber-Fiebert JD, Lavori PW. Effect of integrated behavioral weight loss treatment and problem-solving therapy on body mass index and depressive symptoms among patients with obesity and depression: the RAINBOW randomized clinical trial: The Rainbow randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2019; 321:869-879.

Venditti EM, Zgibor JC, VanderBilt J, Kieffer LA, Boudreau, Burke LE, Glynn NW, Jakicic JM, Smith KJ, Semler LN, Rager JR, Abert SM, Newman AB. Mobility and Vitality Lifestyle Program (MOVE UP): A community health worker delivered intervention for older adults with obesity to improve weight, health, and physical function. Innov Aging. 2018 Jun 18;2(2):igy012

Venditti EM, Tan K, Chang N, Laffel L, McGinley G, Miranda, JB Tryggestad, Walders-Abramson N, Yasuda P, Delahanty, for the TODAY Study Group, Barriers and strategies for oral medication adherence among children and adolescents with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2018 May; 139:24-31.

Venditti EM. Behavior change to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes: Psychology in action. Am Psychol. 2016;71(7):602-613.

See http://www.diabetesprevention.pitt.edu/ for potential trainee projects. 

Aiden G.C. Wright, PhD

Aiden G.C. Wright, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology

2003 | The Pennsylvania State University | BA, Psychology
2006 | Villanova University | MS, Psychology
2012 | The Pennsylvania State University | PhD, Clinical Psychology
2012 | University of Pittsburgh | Postdoctoral Fellow, Clinical Psychology
2013 | University at Buffalo, SUNY | Postdoctoral Fellow, Clinical Psychology

Honors and awards:
2017    2016 Rising Star, Association for Psychological Science
2017    Early Career Investigator Award, North American Society for the Study of Personality Disorders
2017    Susan Nolen-Hoeksema Early Career Research Award, Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology
2017    David Shakow Early Career Award for Contributions to Clinical Psychology, Society of Clinical Psychology (American Psychological Association Division 12)
2018    Samuel J. and Anne G. Beck Award for Outstanding Early Career Research in Personality Assessment, Society for Personality Assessment
2019    Early Career Award, Association for Research in Personality
2019    SAGE Young Scholars Award, Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Research interests:
Ambulatory Assessment
Quantitative Methods

Training interests:
Structural equation modeling
Longitudinal Designs

Selected publications:
Himmelstein PH, Woods WC, Wright AGC. (in press). A comparison of signal- and event-contingent ambulatory assessment of interpersonal behavior and affect in social situations. Psychol Assess. 2019;31(7):952-60.

Wright AGC, Stepp SD, Scott LN, Hallquist MN, Beeney JE, Lazarus S, Pilkonis PA. (2017). The effect of pathological narcissism on interpersonal and affective processes in social interactions. J of Abnorm Psychol, 2017;126(7):898-910.

Wright AGC, Hopwood CJ, Skodol AE, Morey LC. (2016). Longitudinal validation of general and specific structural features of personality pathology. J Abnorm Psychol. 2016; 125(8):1120-34.

Wright AGC, Simms LJ. (2016). Stability and fluctuation of personality disorder features in daily life. J Abnorm Psychol. 2016; 125(5):641-656.

See www.personalityprocesses.com for potential trainee projects.