IONS Directory Profile

Biography

Margaret E. Kemeny, PhD, is Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Graduate Academic Program in Psychology at the University of California San Francisco. After spending her undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, she received her PhD in health psychology from UCSF and completed a four-year post-doctoral fellowship in immunology at UCLA. She directs a joint PhD program in Health Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience between the UCSF and UC Berkeley campuses.

Dr. Kemeny's research has focused on identifying the links between psychological factors, the immune system and health and illness. She has made important contributions to our understanding of the ways in which the mind -- one's thoughts and feelings -- shapes biological responses to stress and trauma.

Over the past 15 years she has investigated the role that specific psychological responses play in predicting the course of HIV infection, as well as the immunological mediators of these effects. More recently, she has begun to focus on the inflammatory processes relevant to the course of certain autoimmune diseases. She has demonstrated, for example, that patients with more pessimistic expectations about their future health show more immune alterations and a poorer prognosis than their optimistic counterparts. This research has led to her current interest in the psychobiology of the placebo response.

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