National Cancer Institute
Michael Irwin

I am a Psychiatric Clinical Translational Scientist.

I am a BBPSB Grantee.

Michael Irwin, MD

University of California - Los Angeles

"The Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA has discovered that sleep and health are intimately inter-connected: insomnia induces adverse trajectories diseases risk, activates inflammatory biology, and accelerates cellular aging. In turn, interventional strategies from behavioral to mind-body treatments effectively target sleep problems and reverse the course of biological mechanisms of disease risk, aging, and possibly cancer, which together optimize healthspan."

Michael Irwin, M.D., is one of the world's foremost experts on the psychoneuroimmunological pathways by which psychosocial and behavioral factors influence health and disease. He holds the Norman Cousins Distinguished Professorship in Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine and is Director of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the UCLA Semel Institute and Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the UCLA Semel Institute. His research is focused on understanding the reciprocal interactions between the immune and central nervous systems and the role of sleep disturbance on the molecular and cellular inflammatory signaling pathways that influence depression and physical health risk with a focus on cancer survivors and older adults.

Dr. Irwin discovered that stress activation of central neuropeptides (i.e., CRH) regulates cellular and innate immune responses, characterized a "conserved transcriptional response to adversity" in which stress both steers a reduction in anti-viral immunity and simultaneously induces transcriptional activation of inflammatory signaling, and demonstrated that sleep disturbance activates inflammatory signaling and accelerates biological aging, which increases risk for chronic disease and depression. Dr. Irwin was among the first to show that inflammation casually induces depression by regulating affect mechanisms, reward processing, and related neural sensitivities, which together guided his development of a novel social signal transduction theory of depression. His pioneering work in psychoneuroimmunology has defined the biological basis for the efficacy of behavioral and mind-body treatments to complement traditional biomedical approaches, augment anti-viral vaccine responses, and reverse inflammatory signaling and molecular markers of aging. Finally, Dr. Irwin has developed and empirically validated a curriculum-based mindfulness program for depression and insomnia, which is now instantiated in multi-site trials and disseminated globally by virtue of community outreach, an international training program, and web-based platforms.

Dr. Irwin's research has been supported continuously for over 25 years by his PI leadership of 30 R01 type awards from the NIH. Dr. Irwin is recipient of the Cousins Award for career achievement from the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society; Excellence in Integrative Medicine Research Award from the European Society of Integrative Medicine; and Outstanding Faculty Research Mentor from UCLA. He has served as President for the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, the American Psychosomatic Society, and the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Chairperson of NIH Center for Scientific Review, Mechanisms of Emotion, Stress and Health Study Section.



Selected Grants
First Prev Next Last Separator
Results 1 - 2 of 2.
Project Title
Grant Number
Program Director
Sleep Disturbance, Inflammation, and Cellular Aging in Breast Cancer Survivors
1R01CA207130-01
Paige Green
Tai Chi Effects on Chronic Insomnia in Breast Cancer Survivors: Immune Mechanisms
5R01CA119159-05
Paige Green


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Last Updated: 03/22/2017 01:13:45