2017 SYR Presenters
Share |

SYR 2017

is pleased to welcome our honored presenters


Keynote Presenters


Luciano Bernardi, MD (Verona, Italy, in 1950), is full professor of Internal
Medicine at the University of Pavia, Italy, and after his retirement is
presently affiliated at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His main research
interests focus on the integrated control mechanisms of the cardiovascular
and respiratory systems. In this context he has done extensive research work
on the physiological effects and clinical applications of yoga in relevant diseases
like heart failure, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and
more recently on diabetes. In addition, he studied the effects of special
respiratory adaptations during exposure to high altitude hypoxia, taking
part or leading seven high altitude stages, in the Himalayas and in the Andes,
and during simulated experiments in hypobaric chambers. He also studied
the cardio-respiratory effects of listening to music, praying and chanting. His
current research focuses on the relationship between hypoxia and diabetes,
and the effects of pranayama on diabetes.

His research work results form collaboration with numerous research
Institutions in Europe India, United States and South America. His work is
published in more than 200 peer-review journals.

Margaret A. Chesney, PhD joined University of California, San Francisco in 1987 and is currently Professor of Medicine in Residence in the Department of Medicine.  From 2010 to 2015, she served as director of the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Osher Foundation Distinguished Professor.  While at UCSF, she was a Policy Fellow in Washington, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson and MacArthur Foundations.  From 2001 to 2003, she served as Scientific Advisor to the Office for Research on Women’s Health at NIH.  In 2003, she was named the first Deputy Director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Professionally, Margaret is engaged in research on stress, mind-body interactions, and health.  She is interested in policy and translating research into practice.  Much of her work underscores the role lifestyle, including breathing, plays in health, and investigates programs to enhance wellbeing for those confronting chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Margaret is Immediate Past Chair of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health.  She has been President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, the American Psychosomatic Society, and the Society for Health Psychology. She is author of over 300 papers, and in 2001 was elected to the Institute of Medicine.


Dr. Lorenzo Cohen is the Richard E. Haynes Distinguished Professor in Clinical Cancer Prevention, Director of the Integrative Medicine Program, and Chief, Section of Integrative Medicine, Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Cohen is passionate about educating others on how to prevent cancer and maintain optimal health across the lifespan.  As the majority of cancers are preventable, Dr. Cohen is conducting research to demonstrate that lifestyle factors including healthy diet, physical activity, stress management, and social support – in other words, leading a yogic lifestyle – can influence cancer outcomes.  Dr. Cohen leads a team conducting NIH-funded research and delivering clinical care of integrative medicine practices such as meditation, Tibetan yoga, Patanjali-based yoga, Tai chi/Qigong, massage, diet, exercise, acupuncture and other strategies such as stress management, music therapy, emotional writing and more aimed at reducing the negative aspects of cancer treatment and improving quality of life and clinical outcomes.  Dr. Cohen has conducted some of the first randomized clinical trials of yoga in cancer patients and continues this important research today examining the psycho-spiritual and biological benefits of yoga.


Session Presenters

Lisa Conboy is a social epidemiologist and a sociologist with an interest in the associations between social factors and health.  She is published in the areas of Women's Health, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and qualitative research methodology. An Instructor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, she is also the research director and faculty at the New England School of Acupuncture where she teaches research methodology and oversees multiple projects.  She has worked with Kripalu staff and faculty for over 10 years on different projects examining the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda and other holistic and mind-body therapies.


Dr. S. Nicole Culos-Reed is a Professor of Health and Exercise Psychology in the Faculty of Kinesiology, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Oncology in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She holds a Research Associate appointment with the Department of Psychosocial Resources at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and founded and directs the Health and Wellness Lab at the U of C.

Leading a multitude of research projects and community programs, Dr. Culos-Reed and her team work in collaboration with private and public funding agencies, hospitals and community centres across local, national and global healthcare networks to discover and translate new knowledge supporting regular exercise as both physically and psychologically beneficial to individuals and families affected by cancer. Her innovative research aims to change the standard of care for cancer populations by incorporating tailored exercise prescriptions into primary treatment strategies, and encouraging individuals and healthcare professionals to make informed complementary care decisions to help improve the quality of life of during and after cancer. Dr. Culos-Reed’s research has led to much national and international collaboration, including projects with Prostate Cancer Canada, the Movember Foundation, and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Her ongoing work includes the development of an Alberta Cancer Exercise (ACE) program which aims to moves exercise into standard of care for all cancer survivors.



Wolf Mehling, MD, is a clinical professor for family and community medicine at the University of California San Francisco. He sees patients, conducts research and teaches at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. For 12 years he has had a private practice in Germany for family medicine, manual medicine and psychotherapy and moved 20 years ago to the US. He is interested in interoception and body awareness and has published about it. He views the cultivation of mindful body awareness as the common ground of most mind-body therapies, including yoga and TaiChi. In order to show how these therapies work, he systematically developed with his team a self-report measure of interoceptive body awareness, the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA).


Karen Mitchell, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.  In addition, she has been a staff psychologist at the Women’s Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System since 2009.  She completed her PhD in Counseling Psychology (sub-speciality in Quantitative Methodology) at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2009.  While in graduate school, she completed a pre-doctoral fellowship on an NIMH T32 in Psychiatric and Statistical Genetics at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. Dr. Mitchell’s research interests include eating disorders, obesity, behavior genetics, PTSD, and complementary and alternative medicine (particularly yoga).  Methodologies used include twin modeling, network science, epigenetic mechanisms, and latent variable modeling.  She recently completed an NIMH K01 investigating gene-environment interplay in the comorbidity of PTSD and disordered eating.  As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Mitchell’s clinical interests include eating disorders, PTSD, and obesity and metabolic disorders.


Stephanie Sohl, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the mind-body relationship and cancer survivorship. Specifically, she aims to strengthen the evidence base for scalable mind-body approaches (e.g., yoga, integrative health coaching) that aim to empower patients with strategies for achieving optimal health. Her work is innovative because she adapts mind-body approaches that may be efficacious so they can be integrated into and enhance conventional care. For example, her current Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) supports an investigation of a brief yoga intervention targeted to reduce fatigue that is taught in the clinical setting during chemotherapy for colorectal cancer. Dr. Sohl earned her doctorate in Social and Health Psychology from Stony Brook University and completed postdoctoral fellowships in Cancer Prevention and Control at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Wake Forest School of Medicine with a focus on Cancer Survivorship and Integrative Oncology. She has also completed a Kripalu-affiliated 200-hour yoga teacher training, Integral Yoga Adapting Yoga for People with Cancer Teacher Training, and the Urban Zen Integrative Therapist training program.



Dr. Lisa Uebelacker is Associate Professor (Research) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and Family Medicine, at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She conducts research on innovative ways to manage depression and chronic pain, including hatha yoga, physical activity, self-help videos, and the integration of behavioral healthcare into primary care settings. She receives research funding from several NIH institutes, including NIMH, NCCIH, NHLBI, and NINR. She is a licensed clinical psychologist. She works at two Brown-affiliated hospitals, Butler Hospital and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island.

   2017 SYR Young Investigator
  Alyssa Chimiklis is an Advanced Clinical Psychology doctoral student enrolled in the Queens College Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her research and clinical interests include developing effective interventions for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with a particular focus on identifying neurocognitive factors that may influence the development of ADHD and co-occurring learning difficulties. For her dissertation, she is investigating at New York University the treatment effects of a novel computerized neurocognitive training program in children with ADHD and reading difficulties. Alyssa is also interested in exploring how mindfulness/yoga interventions influence higher order executive functions, emotion regulation, as well as academic outcomes. She is overseeing a two-year pilot study examining the efficacy of a mindfulness/yoga program in children with increased levels of inattention and emotion dysregulation. She earned her B.S. in Communication from Boston University and her M.A. in Psychology from Queens College.

Scientific Program Committee Members


Catherine Cook-Cottone, PhD

Dr. Cook- Cottone is a Licensed Psychologist, Registered Yoga Teacher, and Associate Professor at SUNY at Buffalo. Her research specializes in embodied self- regulation (i.e., yoga, mindfulness, and self-care) and psychosocial disorders (e.g., eating disorders). She has written four books and over 50 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. Her most recent book is tilted, "Mindfulness and yoga for self-regulation: A primer for mental health professionals.” Presenting nationally and internationally, Catherine uses her model of embodied self-regulation to structure discussions on empirical work and practical applications. She teaches classes on mindful therapy, yoga for health and healing, self-care, history of psychology, and counseling with children and adolescents. She also maintains a private practice specializing in the treatment of: anxiety-based disorders (e.g., PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder), eating disorders (including other disorders of self-care), and development of emotional regulation skills.




Holger Cramer, PhD

Dr. Holger Cramer, is Director of Yoga Research at the Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. He also is Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Dr. Cramer has authored more than 100 scientific journal articles, books and book chapters on yoga, meditation, and integrative medicine. He has dedicated his research to building an evidence-base for yoga as a therapeutic intervention in physical and mental conditions. Dr. Cramer is a licensed mind-body therapist, holds an MSc in clinical psychology, and received his PhD in medical science with an award-winning thesis on yoga for chronic pain.




Kim Innes, PhD

Dr. Innes is an Associate Professor in the West Virginia University Department of Epidemiology and the University of Virginia Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies.  She is an epidemiologist and clinical research scientist with a particular interest in yoga and related mind-body therapies for the prevention and management of cognitive impairment, restless legs syndrome (RLS), arthritis, diabetes, and other burdensome chronic disorders related to stress, sympathetic activation, and metabolic dysregulation.  Funded by grants from the NIH National Center Complementary and Integrative Health, the Office of Women’s Health, the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, and other organizations, Dr. Innes’ current research includes clinical trials to assess the effects of yogic practices on: cognition, neuropsychiatric impairment, quality of life, and indices of cellular aging, inflammation and epigenetic profiles in older adults with preclinical memory loss;  RLS symptoms, sleep, mood, and related outcomes in adults with RLS; and pain, sleep, mood and related outcomes in older adults with osteoarthritis.




Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD

Sat Bir has practiced a yoga lifestyle for over 35 years. He is the Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women\'s Hospital in Boston. His central research funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of NIH is targeted at examining the efficacy of yoga for the treatment of chronic insomnia and the mechanisms underlying its effectiveness. He is also involved in research initiatives on yoga\'s effectiveness in drug dependency, at-risk youth, professional musicians, music students, cancer and cardiovascular disease among others. He has established relationships with fellow yoga researchers in the U.S. and Europe and in India where he routinely attends international yoga research conferences. Dr. Khalsa also teaches an elective course at Harvard Medical School in Mind Body Medicine.




Karen M. Mustian, PhD, M.S., MPH, ACSM, FSBM

Dr. Mustian is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery, Radiation Oncology and Public Health Sciences and the Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  Dr. Mustian is Director of the URMC PEAK Human Performance Clinical Research Lab and Deputy Director of the NCI URCC NCORP Research Base.  Internationally and nationally, Dr. Mustian is Chair of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer Fatigue Study Group and Chair of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Symptom Management and Quality of Life Steering Committee.  She is a member of the NCI Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group’s Community Oncology Cardiotoxicity Task Force and the NCI National Clinical Trials Network Disease Steering Committee Chairs Group.