As a clinical health psychologist and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Psychiatry, Aric Prather, Ph.D. focuses his work on understanding the underlying biological pathways through which sleep, stress, and other health behaviors affect our overall states of health. One of the main ways in which both sleep and stress can affect our health—as many people know—is by contributing to weight gain and obesity, and Dr. Prather works with the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessments, Study, and Treatment to better understand the specific mechanisms at play here.
He also spends his time in the lab conducting research alongside other scientists to identify markers of cellular aging, better understand the role of senescent cells in aging, study a longevity hormone that seems to be related to inflammation and oxidative damage, and determine how stress and/or lack of sleep can increase susceptibility to infectious disease. Ultimately, the goal is to collect data that might augment our understanding of how sleep, stress, and other behaviors contribute to our health.
Dr. Prather touches on a variety of fascinating topics, including the possible relationship between genetic changes and acute stressors, the potential heritability of stress behaviors, long-term impacts of early life trauma, and the surprising consistency of their findings in sleep research.
Tune in for all the details, learn more about Dr. Prather’s work on the UCSF website, and follow him on Twitter.