New Center to Focus on Effects of Stress, Socioeconomic Status on Obesity

By Robin Hindery

Nancy Adler

UCSF’s Center for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) has been awarded a five-year grant to establish a new, multi-campus center focusing on the influence of socioeconomic status and stress on obesity.

The new center will house specialists in health psychology, nutritional sciences, endocrinology and epidemiology as they conduct translational research and work to develop novel interventions for obesity.

The center also will provide mentors for graduate students, develop an obesity-related graduate curriculum, and organize multi-campus seminars and symposia.

Barbara Laraia

This groundbreaking effort will be funded by a UC Multi-Campus Research Program and Initiatives (MRPI) grant, and led by Nancy Adler, PhD, Elissa Epel, PhD, and Barbara Laraia, PhD, MPH, the three co-directors of COAST.

MRPI grants support collaborative research projects that involve three or more UC campuses and focus on topics of importance to both UC and the state of California. The 2009 grants were announced in late July, with four of the 28 total grants awarded to UCSF-led projects.

Elissa Epel

The new obesity initiative aims to build on the strengths of COAST and two other existing UC programs: UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health and the UC Davis Department of Nutrition.

COAST, which is sponsored by the UCSF Center for Health and Community, currently brings together 30 researchers from more than a dozen UCSF departments to examine the ways in which stress affects an individual’s weight, and develop useful interventions.

Related Links:


UCSF Center for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST)


UCSF Center for Health and Community


Elissa Epel Discusses Stress and Obesity Connection on Public Radio Program
UCSF Today, July 10, 2007