Psychologist Greg Miller’s research focuses on how stress affects health. In recent years, he has become especially interested in early-life stressors related to poverty, and how they might reverberate across the lifespan to influence disease risks. To study issues like this, his lab brings together theories and methods from across the behavioral and biomedical sciences. His long-term goal is to establish a behaviorally and biologically plausible understanding of the connections between stress and health.
Primary Recipient Awards
This workshop took place July 28-30, 2008.
People have long believed that certain thoughts and feelings are toxic for their health, and in recent decades convincing scientific evidence has emerged to support this view. These effects can be large in magnitude, in some cases doubling or tripling the risk of adverse outcomes, so they have important ramifications for public health, the economy and society. Nonetheless, little is known about the underlying mechanisms, or how thoughts and feelings "get under the skin" to affect health. While this is a scientifically tractable problem, progress in the area has been slow, largely because unidisciplinary approaches have dominated.
This workshop brought together a distinguished, international cohort of scholars whose expertise spans from molecular genetics to population sociology. It included formal lectures, groupwide discussions and breakout sessions, focusing on topics such as the sociologic, behavioral and biological underpinnings of mind-body connections, and their relevance to conditions such as cancer, infectious disease, heart disease and asthma.
The workshop's principal objective was to develop a series of integrative, multilevel hypotheses, which connect the social contexts people reside in, their psychological experiences, and the activity of their genes, cells, and organs. These hypotheses provided the foundation for collaborative research among the participants. In the service of these goals, the workshop also sought to:
synthesize existing knowledge on the mechanistic underpinnings of mind-body connections,
facilitate interactions between scholars from the broad array of disciplines who study this problem, including the behavioral sciences, public health, the biological sciences, and clinical medicine,
generate an inventory of critical research questions that need to be answered, and
assemble networks of scholars who, by transcending disciplinary boundaries, can execute studies to answer those questions.