Jeff Greeson, PhD

Jeff Greeson Headshot.jpg

Home Institution: Rowan University

Field: Psychology

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rowan University

How can mindfulness as a self-care practice reduce the risk of disease and promote health?

Fellow Project

Dr. Greeson is conducting research to understand how mindfulness, as a self-care practice, can reduce the risk of disease and promote integrative health.  A small handful of recent clinical studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can modify gene expression in immune cells, opening the door to a new field of scientific inquiry that Dr. Greeson calls “mindfulomics.” This new field, however, is complicated by the fact that mindfulness is at once a state, a trait, and a skill one can develop through contemplative practice like meditation or yoga.  Therefore, to advance our understanding of the impact of mindfulness at the level of gene expression, Dr. Greeson is examining the following research questions:

  1. What pattern of genes are engaged (i.e. genomic signature) in state mindfulness, when induced through meditation practice (e.g., mindful breathing, body scan, lovingkindness/compassion) versus acute mental stress and quiet rest?
  2. What pattern of genes correlate to trait mindfulness, when quantified as ‘high’ vs. ‘low’ scores on a standardized questionnaire?
  3. What combination of genes are engaged in a successful treatment response to MBSR, and does this genetic pattern correlate to a health outcomes, such as psychological well-being, quality of life, spirituality, sleep quality, and objective health measures like BP?
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 Mindfulness-based interventions that modulate the gene expression linked to the body’s inflammatory response, may offer a holistic, non-pharmacologic approach to targeting biological pathways implicated in a number of chronic, stress-related medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, among others. Collaboration between basic scientists, clinical investigators, mindfulness teachers, and the community will allow Dr. Greeson to pioneer a new field of “mindfulomics.” This research will provide important insights into the potential power of a mindfulness, as a self-care practice, to reduce inflammation and the subsequent risks for chronic disease.


 

Biography

Dr. Greeson is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Swarthmore College, a Masters in Biomedical Chemistry from Thomas Jefferson University, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Miami. He completed his clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University Medical Center, and was on the faculty at Duke from 2006-2014, before joining the University of Pennsylvania in March 2014.

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Dr. Greeson’s primary research interests include the effects of stress on mental and physical health, and how effectively reducing stress can improve health and prevent disease. His interdisciplinary work in psychology and health integrates psychophysiology, psychoneuroimmunology, and “omics” (genomics & metabolomics) to study the mechanisms by which reducing stress can decrease susceptibility to stress-related disorders and disease progression (e.g., depression, insomnia, hypertension, HIV/AIDS). Dr. Greeson also has a long-standing interest in neuroscience, and has collaborated on multiple brain imaging studies to examine the neural basis of stress and depression vulnerability, and how mindfulness may induce therapeutic change through neuroplasticity. His growing translational research program is funded by several NIH Institutes and Centers, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

After completing a prestigious NIH “Pathway to Independence [PI]” award (K99/R00), Dr. Greeson was selected as a Fellow of The Institute for Integrative Health in 2015. With nearly 50 peer-reviewed publications and over 100 invited presentations, Dr. Greeson is nationally and internationally recognized for his research in the area of health psychology and integrative health. Given the emerging interest in mindfulness in psychology and medicine, Dr. Greeson is a highly sought after research mentor among students from multiple universities. He established the Mindfulness, Stress & Health Lab in part to serve as a training ground for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, as well as postdoctoral trainees. As a licensed psychologist who specializes in Health Psychology, Dr. Greeson provides psychotherapy to patients who present with co-occurring mental and medical conditions, many of which are stress-related and amenable to mindfulness training.

Dr. Greeson is an active professional member of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychosomatic Society, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and the Society for Clinical and Translational Science.

 

Education & Training

PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of Miami

MS, Biomedical Chemistry, Thomas Jefferson University

BA, Psychology, Swarthmore College


 

Selected Honors

Taylor & Francis Most Downloaded article for 2014 (“Randomized Trial of Koru”), 2015

NIH Center for Scientific Review Early Career Reviewer, 2013

Mind & Life Summer Research Institute (MLSRI) Senior Investigator, 2012

SAGE Most Downloaded article for 2009-2010 (“Mindfulness Research Update”), 2011

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Distinguished Fellow, NIH/OBSSR Summer Institute on Behavioral RCTs, 2010

George Fellow in Mind-Body Medicine, George Family Foundation, 2007-2008

Award of Academic Merit, University of Miami, 2006

Scholar Award, American Psychosomatic Society, 2003 & 2006

Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral NRSA, NHLBI Institutional Training Grant, 2002-2005

Research Assistant Full Scholarship, University of Miami, 2001-2002

Citation Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2001

 

Selected Publications 

Transtherapeutic mindfulness.
Alternative and Complementary Therapies2015.

An adapted, four-week mind-body skills group for medical students: Reducing stress, increasing mindfulness, and enhancing self-care.
Explore (NY), 2015.

Decreased symptoms of depression after mindfulness-based stress reduction: Potential moderating effects of religiosity, spirituality, trait mindfulness, gender, and age.
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2015.

An adapted mindfulness-based stress reduction program for elders in a continuing care retirement community: Quantitative & qualitative results from a pilot randomized controlled trial.
Journal of Applied Gerontology, 2015.

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