Elissa Epel, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Dr. Elissa Epel is a psychologist who studies the biological effects of stress. While pursuing her doctorate at Yale, she began to study the relationships between chronic stress, eating behavior, and neuroendocrine and metabolic processes.

She has ongoing studies examining questions such as: Why do some people eat less during stress whereas others eat more? Does chronic stress really lead to abdominal fat and insulin resistance? Do stress and obesity accelerate the aging of some cells? And why are some people vulnerable to the chronic stress of providing care to family members who are ill, while others are more resilient?

Dr. Epel is also involved in trials examining the effects of stress reduction on immune system age, in people with HIV, obesity, and caregivers. She is interested in mechanisms through which stress reduction may lead to improvements in metabolic health. Mothers of young children with autism spectrum disorder are under tremendous stress and can experience premature aging. Dr. Epel's current study examines how these mothers cope with stress, how it affects their bodies, and whether stress reduction can protect their cells from early aging.