Kathi L. Heffner, Ph.D.

Kathi L. Heffner, Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box PSYCH
Rochester, NY 14642

Office: (585) 273-4786
Fax: (585) 273-1384

Research Bio

I am an Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and director of the Stress and Health Laboratory in the Rochester Center for Mind-Body Research. My research centers on understanding the psychoneuroimmunological links between stress and health. Broadly, I am interested in how social, psychological, and behavioral factors promote or impair physiological stress adaptation and immune/inflammatory regulation. My scientific contributions fall into three areas: (1) the role of social relationships in stress and health links, (2) implications of stress for healthy aging, and (3) the influence of sleep on stress physiology. Across these areas, I aim to understand how stress-related autonomic, neuroendocrine, and immune changes ultimately affect well-being, including mood and anxiety, cognitive function, pain, and risk for chronic aging-related diseases.

My work has been supported by multiple organizational, NIH- and other federally-funded grants. Over the years, I have evolved from a primary focus on human laboratory experiments to a complementary emphasis on clinical behavioral interventions as experimental manipulations to elucidate mechanisms. This approach has expanded my multi-disciplinary endeavors to include close collaboration with expert clinician researchers. Together, this research not only contributes to understanding basic mechanisms of stress and health, but also has potential for immediate translation to clinical intervention.

Awards & Honors (National)

Renewal award, National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program, Clinical Research Program | National Institutes of Health 2008
Invitation and Honorarium for attendance | National Institute on Aging | Opportunities for Advancing Behavioral & Social Research Worksho 2008
Funding recipient, National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program, Clinical Research Program | National Institutes of Health 2006

Awards & Honors (Local)

W. G. Stuber Research Fellowship Award | Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research | University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 2015 - Present
Selected cohort member; Developing from Within | Mid-Level Academic Women's Leadership Program | University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 2014
Excellence in Research Incentive Program Award | University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 2013
Citation Poster | American Psychosomatic Society Annual Meeting 2009
Collier Research Award, First Place | Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester 2009
Citation Poster | American Psychosomatic Society, Annual Meeting 2008
University International Council, International Travel Award | Ohio University 2006
Faculty Development Award | College of Arts & Science, Ohio University 2005
Social Psychology Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program Competitive Travel Award | University of Nevada, Reno 2000
Graduate Student Association Annual Research Competition, Finalist | University of Nevada, Reno 2000
Graduate Student Association (GSA) Merit Scholarship | University of Nevada, Reno 1998

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 25 available »

2016 Oct
Devereux PG, Heffner KL, Doane MJ, Gosser B, Nolan M. "Identifying attentional deployment tactics in older adults' written narratives about emotionally upsetting events." Journal of health psychology. 2016 Oct; 21(10):2247-58. Epub 2015 Mar 16.
2016 Jun
Lin F, Heffner KL, Ren P, Tivarus ME, Brasch J, Chen DG, Mapstone M, Porsteinsson AP, Tadin D. "Cognitive and Neural Effects of Vision-Based Speed-of-Processing Training in Older Adults with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Study." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2016 Jun; 64(6):1293-8.
2016 May
Heffner KL, Crean HF, Kemp JE. "Meditation programs for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: Aggregate findings from a multi-site evaluation." Psychological trauma : theory, research, practice and policy. 2016 May; 8(3):365-74. Epub 2016 Jan 11.
2015 Nov
Pigeon WR, Heffner KL, Crean H, Gallegos AM, Walsh P, Seehuus M, Cerulli C. "Responding to the need for sleep among survivors of interpersonal violence: A randomized controlled trial of a cognitive-behavioral insomnia intervention followed by PTSD treatment." Contemporary clinical trials. 2015 Nov; 45(Pt B):252-60. Epub 2015 Sep 04.
2014 Nov
Lin F, Heffner K, Mapstone M, Chen DG, Porsteisson A. "Frequency of mentally stimulating activities modifies the relationship between cardiovascular reactivity and executive function in old age." The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. 2014 Nov; 22(11):1210-21. Epub 2013 Jul 23.

Current Appointments

Associate Professor - Department of Psychiatry, Research (SMD) - Primary


PhD | Social Psychology | University of Nevada, Reno2001
BA | Psychology | University at Buffalo, State University of New York1994

Post-Doctoral Training & Residency

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Psychoneuroimmunology, The Ohio State University 2003