Professor of Medicine, UCSF
Osher Foundation Endowed Chair in Research in Integrative Medicine
Research Director, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
“Biological research into the mechanisms of disease has lead to tremendous advances in conventional medicine. Similar research to understand the biological effects of practices such as meditation and yoga holds the promise of advancing our understanding of how to maintain health in ways that medications alone cannot address.”
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.
Following fellowship, Dr. Hecht developed a multidisciplinary research program investigating early (primary) HIV infection. This work has built one of the largest and most productive cohort studies of early HIV infection in the world, the Options Project, with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This research has investigated the clinical, epidemiological, immunologic, virologic, and behavioral aspects of primary (initial) HIV infection. He has served as co-director of the UCSF Center for AIDS Research Behavioral and Epidemiology core, a board member of the HIV Medicine Association, and an Associate Editor of AIDS Clinical Care.
At the UCSF Osher Center, Dr. Hecht has built a research program that focuses on mind-body interventions, particularly meditation and yoga, using a psychoneuroimmunology approach to studying the effects of these practices on the endocrine, metabolic, and immune systems. He has served as co-Principal Investigator of the UCSF Osher Center’s study of the effects of meditation in early HIV infection, a Center for Excellence in Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CERC) grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the NIH. He is Principal Investigator of the Osher Center’s second CERC grant, “The Metabolic and Immunologic Effects of Meditation.” He is chair of the Program Committee of the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health in 2014, a position that he also held in 2012.
Dr. Hecht has practiced yoga and meditation for more than 30 years, which helped form his interest in rigorous research on the biological effects of these practices. He is also an avid distance runner and cyclist.
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