Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology by an Early Career Professional

George M. Slavich, PhD
George M. Slavich, PhD

George M. Slavich, PhD , University of California, Los Angeles

It is a pleasure to announce Dr. George Slavich as the 2017 recipient of the Early Career Professional Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology.

George is an accomplished early career health psychologist whose outstanding publication record is punctuated by several highly impactful articles that integrate across social, neural, immunologic, genetic, and genomic levels of analysis to elucidate psychological and biological mechanisms underlying human health.

Most notable, George is generating new knowledge, ideas, and theories that are helping define new frontiers in health psychology, as evidenced, for example, in his and Dr. Irwin’s comprehensive review in Psychological Bulletin published in 2014.  This vast review, already cited over 300 times, describes the first fully integrated, multi-level theory involving these processes, i.e., Social Signal Transduction Theory of Depression.

Additionally, George’s original work has begun to identify the full set of psychological and biological mechanisms linking social stress and disease, which cut across all major levels of analysis in a highly integrated and sophisticated manner. For example, George has discovered what brain regions underlie inflammatory responses to social stress as published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science, and has further shown that targeted rejection life events reach deep inside the body to activate intracellular signaling molecules that regulate systemic inflammation.

Moreover, it is important to note that George has pioneered new methodologies for the assessment of adverse life experiences, and created the first online system for assessing lifetime stress exposure.  This approach, coined the STRAIN, systematically asks people about different types of stressors that they may have experienced since childhood.  The STRAIN is now extensively utilized in several NIH funded projects as recognized by his leadership as Associate Director of the NIA-Supported Stress Measurement Network.

Not surprising given the strengths of George’s innovative and impactful scholarship, he has received competitive awards from the National Institute of Health, NARSAD, and other private foundation grants, as well numerous other early awards including the Miller Award from the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research.

George is also a gifted teacher; he has been awarded the UCLA Award for Best Research Mentor, which speaks to his generatively in training new investigators.

In closing, Dr. Slavich has enormous upside potential and we anticipate that he will continue his work and emerge as a leading scientist in health psychology in years to come.

– Michael R. Irwin, M.D.
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, UCLA College of Letters and Sciences