FOR MIND BODY MEDICINE AT MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL

For Mind Body Medicine
at Massachusetts General Hospital

The Science Behind
Relaxation Response
and Building Resiliency

Join Our Network

The Science Behind
Relaxation Response
and Building Resiliency

Join Our Network

Research team

  • Research Leadership
  • Investigative Team
  • Collaborators
  • Research Coordinators

John Denninger, MD, PhD

Director of Clinical Research

Dr. Denninger is Director of Research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also serves as Associate Director of the MGH-McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program, Staff Psychiatrist at the MGH Depression Clinical and Research Program and Instructor Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, Dr. Denninger completed his MD/PhD—with dissertation work on the biochemistry of the nitric oxide receptor—at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He completed his internship and residency in the MGH/McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program and served as Chief Resident in Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He has received a Master of Medical Sciences from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology as part of the Clinical Investigator Training Program. Dr. Denninger has received many awards for his research and teaching, including the NCDEU New Investigators Award and the Harvard Medical School Students Award for Teaching. Dr. Denninger’s work overseeing the Benson-Henry Institute’s research program explores the relationship between stress reduction, resiliency enhancement and health in both clinical and basic domains. His research focuses on answering two questions about mind-body medicine interventions: (1) Assessing how well these interventions can help to promote wellness in a broad range of people and (2) determining how these interventions work, by exploring details of mechanism from genes, to biochemistry, to physiology, to brain activity.

Elyse R. Park, PhD, MPH

Director of Behavioral Health Research

Dr. Park has extensive experience designating and evaluating behavioral intervention trials. Her clinical research focuses on tobacco treatment for cancer patients, cancer risk perceptions, cancer survivor quality of life, and resiliency. She is an expert in mixed methods research development and uses qualitative research to inform interventions and measurement design. Her research has been supported by funding from the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Livestrong Foundation. She has published over 120 peer reviewed original articles.
At the Benson-Henry Institute, Dr. Park has created a manualized version of the Relaxation Response Resiliency program (3RP) which is currently being tested with a variety of medical populations (women undergoing breast biopsy, women with infertility, patients with Multiple Myeloma) and providers (palliative care clinicians, cancer care interpreters). She is also the lead investigator for several mind-body behavioral trials, assessing the feasibility and potential efficacy of integrating the relaxation response into hospital based group and individual treatments. She is currently testing the validity and reliability of a postpartum stressors scale. To see Dr. Park’s BHI-related research, here.

Michelle Dossett, MD, PhD, MPH

Staff physician; Researcher

Dr. Dossett is board-certified in both internal medicine and integrative medicine. She received her BS in cell and molecular biology as well as her MD and PhD in immunology from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. She completed her internship and residency in internal medicine and research fellowship in complementary and integrative medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center – Harvard Medical School. During fellowship she received a MPH degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Dossett is also a certified Ananda Yoga (RYT 200), restorative yoga, and meditation teacher. Dr. Dossett’s research interests include mind body medicine, the patient-clinician relationship, provider well-being, and homeopathy. She is the lead investigator on the HEART Alumni Study, a study of physicians who participated in an integrative medicine elective as medical students, and has lectured widely on the science of mind body medicine and the utility of these skills for clinicians.

Adam Gonzalez, PhD

Dr. Gonzalez was a pre-dcotoral intern and post-doctoral associate in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Mind Body Clinical Research Center at Stony Brook University. Dr. Gonzalez’s program of research focuses on: (1) identifying cognitive, emotional and behavioral health factors underlying physical and mental health among individuals with chronic illness, and (2) developing and evaluating mind body interventions for these high-risk populations. To see Dr. Gonzalez’s CV, please click here.

Daniel L. Hall, M.S.

Clinical Fellow in Psychology

Daniel is a Clinical Fellow in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Miami with an emphasis in health psychology and behavioral medicine. Daniel’s primary research interests pertain to stress, fatigue, and uncertainty as they relate to medical illness. Specific areas of emphasis include: stress and uncertainty management, psychoneuroendocrinology, and fatigue processes. He has chiefly explored these topics among adults affected by life-threatening and/or chronic illnesses such as cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Christina Psaros, PhD

Dr. Christina Psaros is a staff psychologist in the Behavioral Medicine Service at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Her clinical work focuses on women’s mental health, while her research focuses on psychosocial aspects of HIV care and prevention (particularly among women) both in the United States and in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

 

Lara Traeger, PhD

Dr. Traeger conducts research focusing on health behaviors, symptom management, and quality of life among adults affected by cancer. This includes developing behavioral interventions to help patients reduce depression, anxiety and pain, and manage the challenges of intensive anticancer treatments. Her research has been supported by funding from the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. She has published over 45 peer reviewed articles. Dr. Traeger also specializes in providing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for patients with coexisting physical and mental health conditions. She has served as a therapist on numerous CBT trials to improve health behaviors and psychological well being in patients with cancer and other chronic medical conditions. At the Benson-Henry Institute, Dr. Traeger has participated in testing the manualized version of the Relaxation Response Resiliency program (3RP) and other mind-body interventions with a range of medical populations.

Louisa Grandin Sylvia, PhD

Dr. Louisa Sylvia is a staff psychologist and associate director of Psychology at Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, director of the Health and Wellness at the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Sylvia’s major research interests are developing resilience and wellness programs for veterans and individuals with mood disorders. She was awarded a K23 Career Development grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to develop Nutrition/diet, Exercise, and Wellness Treatment (i.e., “NEW Tx”) for bipolar disorder. She was also funded by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention to develop a brief sleep intervention for to improve sleep and suicidality.

Dr. Sylvia has published over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts in her area of specialization, co-authored a workbook for Bipolar II Disorder, authored the The Wellness Workbook for Bipolar Disorder as well as presented her work at numerous local, national and international conferences. She is assisting in creating the MoodNetwork, or a patient-powered research network, funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Initiative. The MoodNetwork will bring together over 50,000 participants with mood disorders to participate in research. Additionally, Dr. Sylvia is dedicated to patient care. She is a trained Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist and maintains an active caseload of individuals with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Sylvia received her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. She received her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and completed her psychology internship at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. She received a “Commendation of Excellence” awarded by the faculty at Temple University for her work investigating the role of lifestyle regularity in individuals at risk for developing bipolar disorder. Dr. Sylvia is a member of the American Psychological Association, Society of Research and Psychopathology, Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy.

Giselle Perez-Lougee, PhD

Dr. Giselle Perez is an Instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a staff psychologist in the Behavioral Medicine Service at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Perez received her Ph.D. in Clinical Health Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Her research broadly focuses on cancer prevention and cancer outcomes research, with a special emphasis on multicultural issues and health disparities research. Specific interests include the development of interventions to promote health behavior change, treatment adherence, and treatment outcomes in cancer populations. To see Dr. Perez-Lougee’s CV, click here.

Ana-Maria Vranceanu, PhD

Dr. Ana-Maria Vranceanu is a clinical health psychologist and researcher in the Behavioral Medicine Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. She is also an affiliated researcher at the Benson Henry Institute of Mind Body Medicine, Family Center for Neurofibromatosis, Orthopedic Surgery, and Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit within the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Vranceanu’s main research interest is in transitioning medical practices from a biomedical to an evidence based patient centered biopsychosocial model of care. At BHI Dr. Vranceanu is leading 2 clinical trials testing a modified version of the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program (3RP) versus a Health Behavioral Control in adults and adolescents with neurofibromatosis, via videoconferencing with Skype. Dr. Vranceanu has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles. To see Dr. Vranceanu’s recent BHI-related research, please click here.

Brittain Mahaffey, PhD

Dr. Mahaffey has a strong background in clinical research related to the treatment of anxiety and stress disorders. She earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and completed her clinical internship at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport, NY. Dr. Mahaffey’s research focuses on evaluating the efficacy of evidenced based treatments for anxiety and stress disorders, particularly in individuals with co-occurring physical health problems. She is also interested in looking at different ways of building resilience in at risk populations including: disaster workers and pregnant women with obstetrical complications. Dr. Mahaffey is presently the director of a randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of the Stress Management and Resiliency Training Program (SMART) for the treatment of PTSD and respiratory symptoms in World Trade Center Responders. She also has several other ongoing collaborations with Dr. Gonzalez and colleagues at Stony Brook University and BHI. To see Dr. Mahaffey’s CV, click here.

Christina Luberto

Christina Luberto is a Clinical Psychology Fellow in Behavioral Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She is completing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Cincinnati, and will begin a T32 Integrative Medicine Research Fellowship at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital and the BHI in July 2015. Christina’s clinical and research interests focus on the application of mind-body interventions, particularly mindfulness-based treatments, for treating emotional problems in medical populations. She is particularly interested in the application of mindfulness-based interventions for tobacco dependence in medical populations, as well as in establishing the mechanisms of mindfulness treatment effects, moderating variables that influence the efficacy of treatment, and the “dose” of treatment needed to obtain clinically meaningful effects. To see Christina’s CV, click here.

Jeong Hyun Kim

Fang Wang

Deanna Chaukos, MD

Rhonda Bentley-Lewis, MD Rhonda Bentley-Lewis, MD, MBS MMSc is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Diabetes Unit at MGH. Her clinical practice includes the management of prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes with a special emphasis on diabetes in pregnancy. Her clinical research focuses on the investigation of mechanisms by which diabetes in pregnancy may promote subsequent maternal cardiovascular disease risk and the impact of race/ethnicity on these relationships. She is currently collaborating with the BHI to adapt the Relaxation Resiliency Response model for use in populations of racially/ethnically diverse postpartum women in order to examine the impact of diabetes in pregnancy on subsequent maternal psychosocial stress.

 

Manoj Bhasin, PhD Dr. is the Director of Bioinformatics at BIDMC and the co-Director of BIDMC Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Center. His interests include the development of systematic and comprehensive statistical and Bioinformatics strategies, and he currently works on many studies at the BHI dealing with the genomics of mind/body research.

 

Aggie Casey, RN is a Clinical Nurse Specialist who specializes in cardiac care, health promotion, and mind/body medicine. At MGH, she worked as the Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and assisted in many studies involving heart health at the BHI. Currently, she works as the nurse manager in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department at BWH.

 

Marc Creager

 

Jeff Dusek, PhD is the former Director of Behavioral Sciences Research at the BHI. He oversaw all research conducted at the BHI and was the Principal Investigator for many studies. Currently, he is the head of the Integrative Health Research Center (IHRC) in Minneapolis.

 

Elizabeth Hoge, MD specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the University of Georgetown University Medical Center and at MGH. She currently runs a large study examining the effects of three different mind/body interventions on patients diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

 

Jeff Huffman, MD is the Director of the Cardiac Psychiatry Research Program in the MGH Division of Psychiatry and Medicine, and the Medical Director of the Inpatient Psychiatry Service at MGH. He runs many studies at MGH involving psychology, health behavior, and cardiovascular disease, and oversees several studies at BHI involving cardiac care.

 

Vicki Jackson, MD MPH is the Chief of the Division of Palliative Care at MGH and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is interested in developing models to promote professional resiliency in palliative care and promote a sustainable professional practice. She has collaborated with BHI to adapt the  Relaxation Resiliency Response model and pilot the use of the model for palliative care clinicians.

 

Christian Jensen

 

Sat-Bir Khalsa, PhD  is a yoga researcher based in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders within the Department of Medicine at BWH. The main focus of his research involves evaluation of the efficacy of yoga as preventive medicine and therapeutic intervention. He is currently involved in research studies evaluating yoga for mental health in public schools and yoga for insomnia, chronic stress, PTSD, and anxiety disorders. At the BHI, Dr. Khalsa is a coinvestigator on a three-armed clinical trial comparing yoga, meditation and stress education for chronic stress.

 

Sara Lazar, PhD is the head of the Neuroimaging Research Lab at MGH. She runs studies exploring neurological, cognitive, and emotional changes associated with mind/body practices. Currently, Dr. Lazar oversees the MRI portion of the stress management study at the BHI which examines the effectiveness of three different mind/body interventions on patients with chronic stress.

 

Jacob Laubach, MD is the Clinical Director of the Multiple Myeloma Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His area of expertise is in multiple myeloma, and he oversees one of the studies being done at the BHI that examines the efficacy of mind/body interventions on patients diagnosed with myeloma.

 

John Levine, MD, PhD

 

Towia Liberman, PhD the Director of the BIDMC Genomics Center who studies the genes that are involved in pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. He assists with many research studies conducted at the BHI involving the genomics of mind/body research.

 

Darshan Mehta, MD, MPH is Medical Director and Director of Medical Education at BHI. He directs medical student and resident rotational electives at BHI.  Dr. Mehta sees patients in a consultative role for use of complementary and integrative medical therapies, as well as mind/body interventions for stress management and stress reduction. He also oversees all clinical aspects of the research studies conducted at BHI.

 

Kathleen Miller, RN, PhD is the former Wellness Center Director at the BHI. She specializes in patient wellness and overall healthy living habits. Dr. Miller has worked on several studies at the BHI including a study on the effectiveness of mind/body practices on depression and another study examining the efficacy of a phone-based intervention on healthy eating habits among overweight patients.

 

Christina Psaros, PhD Dr. Christina Psaros is a staff psychologist in the Behavioral Medicine Service at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology (with a Health Psychology concentration) from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA in 2008. She completed her predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Her clinical work focuses on women’s mental health, while her research focuses on psychosocial aspects of HIV care and prevention (particularly among women) both in the Unites States and in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Noopur Raje, MD– is an attending physician in the Hematology/Oncology Department at MGH. Her specialties include multiple myeloma and hematology, and she oversees one of the studies being done at the BHI that examines the efficacy of mind/body interventions on patients diagnosed with myeloma.

 

Paul Richardson, MD is an attending physician in the Adult Oncology Department at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His research focuses on the study of small molecules as new treatments for multiple myeloma. He also oversees one of the studies at the BHI that examines the efficacy of mind/body interventions on patients diagnosed with myeloma.

 

Jeremy Ruskin, MD is the Director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service in the Cardiology Division at MGH and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His clinical and research interests include cardiac arrhythmias and electrophysiology with a focus on new pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches to the treatment of atrial fibrillation and the prevention of sudden cardiac death. He assists with many research studies at the BHI involving cardiac care and is currently working on a study examining the effects of mind/body techniques on atrial fibrillation

 

Naomi Simon, MD is Chief Medical Officer of the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. She also serves as Director of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, and is an Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She is involved with studies using the BHI program for the military.

 

Ellen Slawsby, PhD is director of the Mind/Body Chronic Pain Service and provides individual therapy, specializing in individuals with chronic illness, IBS/IBD, GERD, chronic fatigue, and pain. She received her MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.With the BHI since 1996, she is also a researcher and clinical trainer at the Institute and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Slawsby has published and presented research on chronic medical illness and infertility. She has also assisted with many research studies at the BHI involving chronic pain, infertility, and other chronic medical illnesses.

 

James Stahl, MD sees internal medicine patients, patients in a consultative role for the use of complementary and integrative medical therapies for mind/body interventions for stress management at BHI, and as a physician acupuncturist. Currently, he is running a study that examines the cost effectiveness of mind/body interventions.

 

Harvey Kent Wilson, PhD is a staff psychologist in the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) within the Department of Psychiatry at MGH. His specific interests include the evaluation of children and adolescents with learning disabilities, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. He has helped with several research studies for the Education Initiative at the BHI examining the efficacy of mind/body techniques on school-aged children, as well as teachers.

 

Andrew Yee, MD is an attending physician in the Hematology/Oncology Department at MGH. His specialties include multiple myeloma, MGUS, and Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia. Currently, he is overseeing one of the studies being done at the BHI that examines the efficacy of mind/body interventions on patients diagnosed with myeloma.

 

Albert Yeung , MD is the Director of Primary Care Studies in the MGH Depression Clinical and Research Program and Co-Medical Director of the South Cove Community Health Center in Boston. He is a senior consultant at the BHI and has helped run multiple studies throughout the years at the institute.

 

Randy Zusman, MD is the Director of the Division of Hypertension at the MGH Heart Center and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. His clinical interests include hypertension, preventive cardiology, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular care. He has assisted in several research studies at the BHI involving cardiac care and hypertension.

Current Resesarch Coordinators

Emma Chad-Friedman
Jackie Proszynski
Research Coordinator Alumni

Jacqueline DeAnda
Vivian Haime
Nicole Hasheminejad
Jolene Jacquart
Halsey Niles
Eric Riklin
Matthew Scult
Lauren Slipp
Jessica Willet