Does stress make you sick? What we know about stress and the immune system

How does stress impact your health? That question has been studied intensely by psychoneuroimmunology researchers for over 30 years. Continue reading


NY Times doctor ignores decades of research

A man who can not control his blood sugar levels (he’s diabetic) comes into a medical clinic with gangrene so aggressive that people in the clinic hallway can smell his rotting flesh. This is the story Dr. Pauline W. Chen writes about in her NY Times Health article, “When Doctor’s Advice is Ignored at Home”.
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Cutting edge research: environmental influences on genetics

Throw out what you learned in 9th grade biology class. The age old idea that your genetic profile is static and there is nothing you can do to change the DNA hand you’ve been dealt, is likely not true. A new article in the American Psychological Association’s magazine the Monitor on Psychology nicely reviews the cutting edge research UCLA professor Dr. Steve Cole and his colleagues.  It’s a hot and controversial new area of research that is definitely worth learning about: how the environment influences gene functioning. Check it out at:

Dr. Rodney Hammond: A successful career of blending research and community work

One of the goals of the American Psychological Association is “to advance the communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society.” As the head of the Center for Disease Control’s Division of Violence Prevention, Dr. Rodney Hammond has worked to achieve this goal by bringing scientific rigor and leadership to curbing violence in our country. Continue reading

Testing theoretical models while answering real world questions

In my previous blog post I wrote about the need for applying health research to improve community health. Another glaring need is to conduct research that both test theoretical models and addresses community-relevant questions. What does this mean? Dr. Eve Brank and Lindsey Wylie outline a perfect example in their recent Monitor on Psychology article “If you want a toy, eat your broccoli.”

Learning theories suggest that learning associations between objects can take place through reinforcement. So for example, a meal that comes with a toy (the reward) may reinforce a child’s behavior Continue reading

Using health data to improve community health

Often in academia the direct arrow from research findings to improving the human condition is hard to see. I believe this is a major problem specifically  in the area of health and wellness. Governmental organizations, the private sector, and foundations spend billions of dollars on health research and yet the health of U.S. individuals and the health care system is dismal. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research however is trying to change this.  With a new blog called Health DATAbytes the Center is attempting to turn knowledge gained in research into action to improve  community health.  The staff and writers of the blog seek to teach both community members and professionals how to use health data to raise public awareness about an issue or advocate for public policies that benefit their community. Sharing recent research findings with the public is a great way to empower the public to be engaged in the health care crisis. For example, Porsche Johnson posted on April 20th about an event in downtown LA open to the public that includes workshops on transportation and health in your community. Discussions will be centered around the building sustainable and health communities through cleaner air and safer streets. Hosted by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network  this event will be a great way to learn how to improve health in your community! Check out the Health DATAbytes blog to learn more about recent research findings.