Margaret A. Chesney, PhD

Distinguished Professor of Medicine, UCSF School of Medicine


Dr. Margaret Chesney’s distinguished career in integrative medicine includes serving as the director of the UCSF Osher Center from 2010 to 2015. Since holding this position, she has focused her attention on research, including a study of the effect of breathing on hypertension, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Prior to returning to UCSF to direct the Osher Center in 2010, she served as the first deputy director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH, then NCCAM) for five years. During her time at NCCIH, she also served as the director of the Division of Extramural Research and Training and was the senior advisor to the director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the NIH.

Prior to her work at the NIH, Dr. Chesney was Professor of Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine. She also served as the co-director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, associate director of the California AIDS Research Center, and director of the Behavioral Medicine and Epidemiology Core of the Center for AIDS Research, UCSF-Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology.

Dr. Chesney’s research focuses on the relationship between behavior and chronic disease; and particularly on lifestyle factors, such as stress that increases risk of such diseases as heart disease, as well as on interventions to address those factors. The goal of her research has been to empower individuals to promote health, prevent disease, and maintain optimal well-being across the lifespan, even in the face of serious health challenges, including cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS. She is widely recognized in the healthcare field for developing effective interventions in this area.

In 2007, she was named one of the outstanding women leaders by the American Psychological Association (APA), and in 2008, she was included on the list of Women in Science at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Chesney has held national leadership positions, including president of both the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research and the American Psychosomatic Society. She also is a member of the Institute of Medicine and has served on a number of its boards. She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health (formerly the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine).

Dr. Chesney’s awards are numerous. She received the Annual Award for Outstanding Contributions to the APA Division of Health Psychology in 1982 and 1986, the President’s Award from the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research in 1987, the Charles C. Shepard Science Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999 and the Director’s Award for work in Mind-Body Medicine from the director of the NCCIH in 2005. In 2011, she was awarded the Distinguished Scientist Award by the Society of Behavioral Medicine.  In 2001, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine and received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Whitman College, in 2008.

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