COAST Members

COAST brings together members from across the UCSF campus from departments and divisions such as Psychiatry, Medicine, Family & Community Medicine, Pediatric Medicine, Adolescent Medicine, Physiological Nursing, Family Health Care Nursing, Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program, and the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

COAST Researchers & Staff



Nancy E. Adler, PhD
Co-Director, COAST

As director of the Center for Health and Community (CHC), Dr. Adler fosters interdisciplinary research, bridging social, clinical and basic sciences. Understanding the etiology and treatment of obesity requires such an interdisciplinary approach. Although not an identified obesity researcher, Dr. Adler was a pioneer in bringing together researchers and clinicians...Read more.


Elissa S. Epel, PhD
Director, COAST

Elissa S. Epel, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF. She is also a faculty member in the Health Psychology Postdoctoral Program, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program. She is one of the founders of COAST, and is serving as the Director. Read More.

Barbara A. Laraia, PhD, MPH, RD
COAST Affiliate Director of Nutrition Research, Liaison with UCB

Dr. Laraia is a public health nutrition investigator with a special interest in the relationships between food policy, the food environment and health. She has expertise in qualitative methods, program evaluation, community-based research and nutritional epidemiology. Her research focuses on household food security status and and neighborhood effects on diet, weight... Read More.


Robert B. Baron, MD, MS
Professor of Medicine
Associate Dean for Graduate and Continuing Medical Education
Vice Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine
Director, UCSF Weight Management Program

A graduate of Princeton University (1971), Dr. Baron received a Masters Degree in Nutrition from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1974) and his M.D. Degree from UCSF (1978). He did his residency training in UCSF's Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program (1978-1981). A member of the UCSF faculty since 1981, Dr. Baron directed the UCSF Primary Care... Read More.

Nicki Bush, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Center for Health and Community

Nicki Bush's research focuses on the manner in which early social contexts interface with individual differences to affect developmental trajectories across the life course. Her work aims to elucidate the sources for social disparities in health by examining the interplay of biology (physiology, genetics, epigenetics) and context (SES, parenting, neighborhoods) in... Read More.

Jyu-Lin Chen, RN, PhD, FAAN
Associate Professor
Department of Family Health Care Nursing
UCSF, School of Nursing

Dr. Chen's program of research focuses on the impact of family and socio-cultural factors on Chinese and Chinese-American children’s health and healthy behaviors, especially overweight in school-age children. Her research focuses on child-centered and family-oriented methods from a bio-behavioral model. Variables investigated include physical activity, physical fitness... Read More.

Mary Dallman, PhD
Emeritus Professor

Mary Dallman, PhD, is a Professor Emerita of Physiology at UCSF and is one of the world experts on stress and metabolism, having pioneered the discoveries of how HPA axis regulation and metabolism are linked. She has deciphered the roles of stress induced glucocorticoid secretion on brain and feering behavior and the stress-damping role of pleasurable food intake on brain... Read More.

Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD
Assistant Professor
Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in the Department of Medicine at UCSF. Her scientific interests include the effects of mind-body practices on eating behavior and stress-related chronic disease processes associated with obesity. Dr. Daubenmier received her doctorate training in Social Psychology... Read More.

Elena Fuentes-Afflick, MD, MPH
Professor of Pediatrics
Vice Dean of Academic Affairs & Faculty Development

Dr. Fuentes-Afflick is a pediatrician and epidemiologist with expertise in health outcomes in Latinos, particularly the role of acculturation on health outcomes. She has conducted research studies focused on the role of acculturation on body mass outcomes in Latina women and their children. Dr. Fuentes-Afflick is also interested in the portrayal of body mass images in Latino... Read More.

Andrea Garber, PhD
Associate Professor of Pedatrics
UCSF Division of Adolescent Medicine

Dr. Andrea Garber is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). She is a nutritionist with a PhD in Human and Clinical Nutrition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Registered Dietitian (RD) from UCSF. Read More.

Ira Goldfine

Carl Grunfeld, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine, UCSF
Associate Chief of Staff for Research & Development, VAMC
Chief, Division of Metabolism & Endocrinology, VAMC

Dr. Grunfeld is both a basic scientist and clinical investigator whose research has focused on metabolic effects of cytokines, infection, & inflammation, endocrine, metabolic & body composition disturbances in HIV/AIDS, wasting in AIDS and the metabolic changes due to antiretroviral therapy. His laboratory defines the physiology and molecular biology of these changes and then... Read More.

Frederick (Rick) Hecht
Professor of Medicine

Rick Hecht is Research Director of the Osher Center, and Professor of Medicine at UCSF. He received his MD from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, and completed Internal Medicine residency at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine Residency Program in Social Medicine. He received training in clinical research methods during a fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology at UCSF. Read More.

Melvin B. Heyman, MD, MPH
Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, UCSF

Dr. Heyman's research has been oriented towards clinical problems in pediatric patients with nutrition and/or gastroenterologic issues. He was one of the first investigators to reveal the importance of nutrition support in sickle cell anemia, helped to develop procedures in the diagnosis of hepatobiliary problems in infants, and has been actively pursuing novel treatments for... Read More.

Alka M. Kanaya, MD
Professor in Residence
UCSF School of Medicine

Dr. Kanaya has focused her clinical research in the field of type 2 diabetes and obesity and has developed a three-pronged research program that is unified under this theme. The first arm consists of using existing cohort studies to test novel biomarkers that predict diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The second arm is to create a South Asian cohort to study these risk factors in a very high risk group. The final arm is to test behavioral interventions to prevent the onset of diabetes. Read More.

Suneil Koliwad, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Gerold Grodsky, PhD/JAB Chair in Diabetes Research

Suneil Koliwad, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Diabetes Center and Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco, and holds the Gerold Grodsky, PhD/JAB Chair in Diabetes Research. He is a board certified Endocrinologist who attends on the Diabetes and Endocrinology Services at The San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Koliwad earned his PhD and MD degrees from Baylor College of Medicine... Read More.

Cindy Leung, ScD, MPH
Postdoctoral Scholar, UCSF Center for Health & Community

Dr. Cindy Leung is a postdoctoral scholar in the Center for Health and Community in the School of Medicine at UCSF. She received her MPH from UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and her ScD in Nutrition and Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, with concentrations in public health nutrition and cardiovascular epidemiology. Her previous research... Read More.

Robert H. Lustig, MD
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
Division of Endocrinology
Director, Weight Assessment for Teen & Child Health (WATCH) Program at UCSF

Dr. Lustig is a nationally-recognized authority in the field of neuroendocrinology, with a specific emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system. He is currently investigating the contribution of biochemical, neural, hormonal, and genetic influences in the expression of the current obesity epidemic both in children and adults. He has defined a syndrome... Read More.

Kristine A. Madsen, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Pediatrics, UCSF

Dr. Madsen is a pediatrician and research scientist with expertise in the design and evaluation of interventions related to pediatric obesity. She has directed clinic- and community-based studies aimed at increasing physical activity and reducing obesity among children of diverse backgrounds. She is currently conducting research related to Physical Education in schools and... Read More.

Laurel Mellin, PhD
Associate Clinical Professor
Family & Community Medicine and Pediatrics
Director, Emotional Brain Training Center of Excellence

Laurel Mellin, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and an Associate Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine and Pediatrics at UCSF. She is the founder of emotional brain training (EBT) a method of treating obesity and stress symptoms that equips individuals with tools based on an integration of neuroscience and developmental theory to decrease allostatic load as an emerging brain-based paradigm in... Read More.

Aric A. Prather, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Prather is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UCSF. His research focuses on complex interactions between psychological processes and sleep as they relate to physical and mental illness. With expertise in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), much of his research involves understanding how psychosocial factors affect the immune system, with emphasis on inflammatory... Read More.

Eli Puterman, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry, UCSF

Dr. Puterman is an Assistant Professor at University of California, San Francisco in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Fitness, Aging, and Stress Laboratory. He completed undergraduate degrees in Physiology and Psychology in Montreal, Quebec, his MA in Clinical Psychology and PhD in Health Psychology at The University of British Columbia.  Read More.

David H. Rehkopf, ScD, MPH
Stanford University Affiliate Member
Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine

Dr. Rehkopf's research seeks to better understand the importance of the influence of family economic resources on the development of adolescent and early adult obesity and the effects of obesity on economic resources in younger adults entering or transitioning within labor markets. Differentiating between the relative causal importance of these pathways has important... Read More.

Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH
Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies
Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine, UCSF

Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, is a Professor of Health Policy in the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. She holds a joint appointment in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine. Dr. Schmidt is also Co-Director of the Community Engagement and Health Policy Program for UCSF’s... Read More. 

Hilary Seligman, MD, MAS
Associate Professor of Medicine, UCSF
San Francisco General Hospital

Hilary Seligman, MD, MAS is Associate Professor in Residence at the University of California San Francisco with a primary appointment in the Division of General Internal Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Read More.

Naomi E. Stotland, MD
Associate Professor
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, UCSF

Dr. Stotland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at UCSF. Dr. Stotland's research interests include weight gain, nutrition, and obesity in pregnancy. She is developing and testing interventions to improve diet and exercise among Spanish-speaking prenatal patients. She is also a collaborator on... Read More.

Laurence Tecott, MD, PhD
Professor in Residence
Psychiatry, UCSF

Our laboratory has a longstanding interest in the impact of genetic and psychological factors on the central nervous system regulation of feeding and energy balance. Our focus on the brain serotonin system led us to identify the serotonin 5-HT2C receptor as a key contributor to the suppression of appetite by this neurotransmitter system. We have characterized an... Read More.

Jeanne M. Tschann, PhD
Department of Psychiatry, UCSF

Dr. Tschann’s primary interest is the study of personal relationships and health-related outcomes among children and adolescents, particularly in Latino populations. In previous research, she examined how family relationships influence health risk behaviors, violence and victimization in Mexican American adolescents; and how sexual relationship dynamics are related to... Read More.

Christian Vaisse, MD, PhD
UCSF Diabetes Center

The overall goal of this laboratory is to identify genetic defects implicated in the onset and progression of multi-factorial metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Our strategy combines human genetic approaches with molecular biology and animal studies. We are currently concentrating our research on the molecular biology and animal studies. Read More.

Janet Wojcicki, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
UCSF School of Medicine

Janet Wojcicki, PhD MPH is a fellow in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. She is an anthropologist and epidemiologist by training and previously completed a fellowship in HIV prevention and epidemiology at UCSF. Dr. Wojcicki has extensive research experience evaluating the relationship between sociocultural background, behavioral practices and... Read More.

Allison W. Xu, PhD
Associate Professor
UCSF Diabetes Center

Research in my laboratory focuses on understanding how body weight and glucose homeostasis are regulated by the central nervous system. Homeostatic control of body weight depends on the ability of the brain to sense and respond to changes in peripheral energy stores. Peripheral hormones and metabolic signals, such as leptin, insulin, glucocorticoids, and various GI... Read More.

Irene H. Yen, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine, UCSF

Dr. Yen is a social epidemiologist with research expertise in survey design and development and qualitative research methods. Her research focuses on the social determinants of health, with emphasis on how neighborhood environment influences health behaviors and health status. She is the principal investigator of three projects, two that were recently completed, that... Read More.


Amanda Gilbert
Program Coordinator

Jennifer Taggart
Financial Manager