Frederick (Rick) Hecht, MD

Research Director, UCSF Osher Center
Osher Foundation Endowed Chair in Research in Integrative Medicine
Professor, UCSF School of Medicine

Dr. Rick Hecht: “What Do We Really Know About Meditation and Health?”

“Biological research into the mechanisms of disease has lead to tremendous advances in conventional medicine. Similar research to understand the biological effects of practices such as meditation and yoga holds the promise of advancing our understanding of how to maintain health in ways that medications alone cannot address.”

Rick Hecht, MD is Research Director of the Osher Center, and Professor of Medicine at UCSF. He received his MD from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, and completed Internal Medicine residency at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine Residency Program in Social Medicine. He received training in clinical research methods during a fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology at UCSF.

Early in his career, Dr. Hecht developed a multidisciplinary research program investigating early (primary) HIV infection. This work built one of the largest and most productive cohort studies of early HIV infection in the world, the Options Project, with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This research has investigated the clinical, epidemiological, immunologic, virologic, and behavioral aspects of primary (initial) HIV infection. He has served as co-director of the UCSF Center for AIDS Research Behavioral and Epidemiology core, a board member of the HIV Medicine Association, and an Associate Editor of AIDS Clinical Care.

At the UCSF Osher Center, Dr. Hecht has built a research program that focuses on mind-body interventions, particularly meditation and yoga, using a psychoneuroimmunology approach to studying the effects of these practices on the endocrine, metabolic, and immune systems. He is the author of over 200 peer-reviewed articles, and has been the principal investigator of eight grants from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH, formerly NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including two Center for Excellence in Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine grants. He directs the UCSF Training in Research in Integrative Medicine fellowship program, funded by NCCIH. He is very active in training the next generation of researchers in integrative medicine, including serving as a key mentor for eight successful NIH K-grant junior career development awardees. He plays a leadership role nationally and internationally in advancing quality and innovation in integrative medicine research, including chairing the Program Committee of the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health in 2012 and 2014, and he served as Organizing Committee chair in 2016.

Dr. Hecht has practiced yoga and meditation for more than 30 years, which helped form his interest in rigorous research on the biological effects of these practices. He is also an avid ultra-marathon distance runner and cyclist.

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