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Kathi L. Heffner, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 273-4786

Fax: (585) 273-1384

Faculty Appointments

Biography

Professional Background

Kathi Heffner is an Associate Professor of Nursing, Medicine, and Psychiatry, and the Associate Chief of Research in the Division of Geriatrics and Aging in the Department of Medicine. Her multidisciplinary and interprofessional collaborations and mentorship are aimed at supporting research initiatives that can ultimately foster individuals' health and well-being in later life.

Dr. Heffner's work has been supported by multiple organizational, NIH and other federally funded grants. Her growing leadership in aging research has been recognized locally and nationally, including as a selected scholar for the Tideswell UCSF Emerging Leaders in Aging Program. She is currently the Principal Investigator and Program Director for the Healthy Aging Research Program, supported by the UR Clinical Translational Science Institute, School of Nursing, and Department of Psychiatry.

Research

My research centers on understanding the links between stress and health in older adulthood. I am particularly interested in how stress affects the immune system, and how to promote stress resilience to keep the immune system healthy at older ages. My scientific contributions fall into three areas: (1) implications of stress, including older family caregivers' stress, for healthy immune aging, (2) the influence of sleep and insomnia on stress physiology and inflammation, and (3) the role of social relationships in older adults' stress and stress resilience.

Across these areas, my goal is to identify behavioral interventions that can affect multiple domains of older adults' well-being, including mood and anxiety, cognitive function, pain, and risk for chronic aging-related diseases.

Credentials

Education

1994
BA | University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Psychology

2001
PhD | University of Nevada, Reno
Social Psychology

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

2001 - 2003
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Psychoneuroimmunology, The Ohio State University

Awards

2017 - 2018
UCSF Tideswell Emerging Leaders in Aging, Leadership Scholar in Research

2015 - 2016
W. G. Stuber Research Fellowship Award
Sponsor: Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research
Location: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

2014
Selected cohort member; Developing from Within
Sponsor: Mid-Level Academic Women's Leadership Program
Location: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

2013
Excellence in Research Incentive Program Award
Sponsor: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

2009
Citation Poster
Sponsor: American Psychosomatic Society Annual Meeting

2009
Collier Research Award, First Place
Sponsor: Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester

2008
Citation Poster
Sponsor: American Psychosomatic Society, Annual Meeting

2008
Renewal award, National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program, Clinical Research Program
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

2008
Invitation and Honorarium for attendance
Sponsor: National Institute on Aging
Location: Opportunities for Advancing Behav & Social Research Workshop

2006
Funding recipient, National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program, Clinical Research Program
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

2006
University International Council, International Travel Award
Sponsor: Ohio University

2005
Faculty Development Award
Sponsor: College of Arts & Science, Ohio University

2000
Social Psychology Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program Competitive Travel Award
Sponsor: University of Nevada, Reno

2000
Graduate Student Association Annual Research Competition, Finalist
Sponsor: University of Nevada, Reno

1998
Graduate Student Association (GSA) Merit Scholarship
Sponsor: University of Nevada, Reno

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Clinical Trials

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Family Caregivers of Dementia Patients

Lead Researcher: Kathi L Heffner

The purpose of the study is to examine the effects of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and the Living Well (LW) for Dementia Caregivers program, compared to any usual care, to see if the programs might be associated with better immune function, physical and emotional health, and well-being. This study is looking for individuals age 55 and up who are caring for someone (such as a spouse, parent, close friend) who has dementia. Participation includes attending a weekly small group meeting at Lifespan over eight weeks for one of two study programs (determined randomly). Both programs address ways of improving physical and emotional well-being in the context of dementia caregiving.

View Study Details

Publications

Journal Articles

7/15/2021
Pigeon WR, Crean HF, Cerulli C, Gallegos AM, Bishop TM, Heffner KL. "A Randomized Clinical Trial of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia to Augment Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Treatment in Survivors of Interpersonal Violence." Psychotherapy and psychosomatics.. 2021 Jul 15; :1-13. Epub 2021 Jul 15.

3/30/2021
Heffner KL, Quiñones MM, Gallegos AM, Crean HF, Lin F, Suhr JA. "Subjective memory in adults over 50 years of age: associations with affective and physiological markers of emotion regulation." Aging & mental health.. 2021 Mar 30; :1-9. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

6/8/2020
Chen Q, Yang H, Rooks B, Anthony M, Zhang Z, Tadin D, Heffner KL, Lin FV. "Autonomic flexibility reflects learning and associated neuroplasticity in old age." Human brain mapping.. 2020 Jun 8; Epub 2020 Jun 08.

Books & Chapters

2014
Chapter Title: Stress and immune function in humans: A life-course perspective
Book Title: Handbook of Psychoneuroimmunology
Author List: Moynihan, J. A.; Heffner, K. L.; Caserta, M.; O'Connor, T.
Published By: Oxford: John Wiley & Sons 2014

2009
Chapter Title: Psychoneuroimmunology
Book Title: The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology
Author List: Heffner, K. L.
Published By: Wiley-Blackwell 2009

2009
Chapter Title: Isolation: Health effects
Book Title: The Encyclopedia of Human Relationships
Author List: Heffner, K. L.
Published By: Sage 2009

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