Margaret A. Chesney, PhD

Margaret Chesney
Core Research Faculty, UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine Director (2010-2015), UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine Professor Emerita, Department of Medicine

Areas of Interest

  • Design and evaluation of non-pharmacological interventions for cardiovascular disease, particularly myocardial infarction and hypertension
  • Development and validation of assessments of lifestyle, behavioral, and psychosocial factors that are associated with chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, and cancer
  • Design of behavioral interventions and clinical trial evaluations of these interventions to reduce risk of developing or contracting chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, and cancer 
  • Development and evaluation of mind-body interventions, including coping effectiveness training and other stress-management programs to enhance wellness and well-being for individuals and caregivers who are living with the challenges of chronic conditions
  • Design and evaluation of innovative interventions involving body-based approaches for PTSD in veterans and for dementia and other conditions associated with aging   

Experience and Current Work

Dr. Margaret Chesney’s distinguished career in integrative medicine includes serving as the director of the UCSF Osher Center from 2010 to 2015. Since leaving this position, she has focused on research, including a study of the effect of breathing on hypertension, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as studies investigating mind-body and body-based interventions for PTSD in veterans and for dementia and other conditions associated with aging.

Dr. Chesney joined the UCSF School of Medicine in 1987. She served as the co-director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, associate director of the California AIDS Research Center, and director of the Behavioral Medicine and Epidemiology Core of the Center for AIDS Research at the UCSF Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. While at UCSF, she was a senior health-policy fellow in Washington D.C., supported by the Robert Wood Johnson and MacArthur Foundations, and served as senior scientific advisor to the NIH’s Office for Research on Women’s Health.

Taking leave from UCSF from 2003 to 2008, she served as the first deputy director of the NIH’s Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, where she also served as the director of the Division of Extramural Research and Training and was a senior advisor to the director of the NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.

The goal of Dr. Chesney’s research has been to empower individuals to promote health, prevent disease, and maintain optimal well-being across their lifespans, even in the face of serious health challenges.

In 2007, American Psychological Association (APA), named her one of its outstanding women leaders, and in 2008, the NIH included her on its list of Women in Science. Dr. Chesney has held national leadership positions, including president of three leading organizations that focus on mind-body medicine: the Society for Health Psychology, the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and the American Psychosomatic Society. She also is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has served on a number of its boards. She is a past chair of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health, and an author of over 350 scientific papers.

Dr. Chesney received the 1982 and 1986 Annual Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Society of Health Psychology, the 1987 President’s Award from the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, the 1999 Charles C. Shepard Science Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the NCCIH’s 2005 Director’s Award for work in mind-body medicine. In 2011, the Society of Behavioral Medicine awarded her the Distinguished Scientist Award.

Education and Training

  • Honorary PhD, Whitman College 
  • PhD, Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Colorado State University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychiatry, Temple University School of Medicine, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute
  • MS, Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Colorado State University
  • BA, Sociology and Psychology (double major), Whitman College


View publications on UCSF Profiles


View grants on UCSF Profiles

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