Kathi Heffner joined the School of Nursing faculty in 2016 after eight years as a faculty member in the UR Department of Psychiatry, where she maintains a secondary appointment. Dr. Heffner is also the associate chief of research for the Division of Geriatrics & Aging in the Department of Medicine, supporting multidisciplinary aging research within the division and across the University of Rochester.

Dr. Heffner's research centers on how psychosocial and behavioral factors affect physiological stress adaptation and the immune system. In particular, she is interested in the implications of stress for healthy aging; the influence of sleep on stress physiology and clinical symptoms, including chronic pain and trauma-related symptomatology; and the role of social relationships in stress and health links. Her work has been supported by multiple organizational, NIH and other federally funded grants.

Over the course of her career, her research has evolved from a primary focus on human laboratory experiments to a complementary emphasis on clinical behavioral intervention trials. That approach has led to multidisciplinary collaborations with expert clinician researchers, including nurses, psychologists, physicians, and geriatricians, contributing to a better understanding of the basic mechanisms of stress and health, with the potential for immediate translation to clinical intervention.

Current Focus

My interests in stress and healthy aging have led to a current focus on behavioral interventions to promote well-being and immune health in caregivers of a family member with dementia. In one clinical trial, we are examining whether computerized cognitive training will promote stress adaptation and slow immune aging in family caregivers. In another trial, we are testing whether a mindfulness intervention will improve caregivers' antibody responses to influenza vaccine. Finally, I and my collaborators are advancing the development of behavioral interventions to promote social connectedness in lonely and isolated caregivers through our Rochester Roybal Center for Social Ties and Aging Research. This research on caregivers is supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.

In addition, I and my collaborators are investigating the impact of behavioral sleep interventions on management of insomnia and its comorbidities, including chronic pain, depression, and trauma-associated stress. I am particularly interested in the role of inflammation in pathways linking poor sleep to these clinical outcomes, and the impact of sleep intervention on older adults' quality of life.

Professional Experience
Associate Professor, Associate Chief of Research, University of Rochester, Division of Geriatrics & Aging, Department of Medicine (Secondary Appointment), Rochester, NY, US. 2018 - Current

Associate Professor, University of Rochester, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Dentistry (Secondary Appointment), Rochester, NY, US. 2016 - Current

Associate Professor, University of Rochester, School of Nursing (Primary Appointment), Rochester, NY, US. 2016 - Current

Associate Professor, University of Rochester, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Dentistry (Primary Appointment), Rochester, NY, US. 2014 - 2016

Assistant Professor, University of Rochester, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Dentistry (Primary Appointment), Rochester, NY, US. 2008 - 2014

Adjunct Professor, Ohio University, Department of Psychology, Athens, OH, US. 2008 - 2010

Assistant Professor, Ohio University, Department of Psychology, Athens, OH, US. 2003 - 2008

The Ohio State University (NIH/NIMH, T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Psychoneuroimmunology), Columbus, OH, US. 2001 - 2003

Selected Scholar, Research Group
Tideswell UCSF Emerging Leaders in Aging Program, 2017

W.G. Stuber Research Fellowship Award
University of Rochester, 2015

Selected cohort member, Women's Leadership Program
University of Rochester, 2014

Excellence in Research Incentive Program Award
University of Rochester, 2013

Citation Poster, Annual Meeting
American Psychosomatic Society, 2009

Collier Research Award, First Place
University of Rochester, 2009

Invitation and Honorarium, Psychological Scientists Workshop
National Institute on Aging, 2008

Citation Poster, Annual Meeting
American Psychosomatic Society, 2008

International Travel Award
Ohio University, 2006

Faculty Development Award
Ohio University, 2005

Sleep improvement in older adults with osteoarthritis is associated with lower inflammatory response to laboratory pain and improved clinical pain
Psychoneuroimmunological Research Society, 2016

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia for survivors of interpersonal violence who subsequently receive cognitive processing therapy
29th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, 2015

Sleep quality moderates the stress buffering effects of social support on salivary alpha amylase levels
Annual Meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, 2014

The Influence of Sleep Quality on the Stress Buffering Effects of Social Connectedness
The Next Frontier in Social Support and Health Research: Clarifying the Micro-Level Mechanisms, Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Meeting, 2014

Mind-Body Relationships: Implications for Wound Healing
The Wounded Psyche: The Brain-Wound Continuum, The Wounded Psyche: The Brain-Wound Continuum, 2012

Pain in older men is associated with interleukin (IL)-6 change across time following a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention
Annual Meeting of the Associated Psychoneuroimmunological Research Society, 2011

Depression and objectively measured physical activity in US older adults
The American Geriatrics Society Annual Meeting, 2010

Autonomic Cardiac Control and Relationships to Negative Affect, Neuroendocrine, and Inflammatory Responses to Acute Stress
Sweating the Small Stuff? Emotion, Stress and Health in Everyday Life, American Psychosomatic Society Annual Meeting, 2010

Aging Stereotype Effects on Physiological Reactivity to Cognitive Tasks
Emerging Perspectives in the Social and Affective Neuroscience of Aging, National Institute on Aging (NIA)-Sponsored Symposium, 2006

Heffner, K. L., Quiñones, M. M.*, Gallegos, A. M., Crean, H. F., Lin, F. V., & Suhr, J. A. (2021). Subjective memory in adults over 50 years of age: associations with affective and physiological markers of emotion regulation. Aging and Mental Health. DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2021.1904829

Wang, J., Cato, K., Conwell, Y., Yu, F., Heffner, K., Caprio, T. V., Nathan, K., Monroe, T. B., Muench, U.,& Li, Y. (2021). Pain treatment and functional improvement in home health care: Relationship with dementia. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. PMID: 34418061 DOI: 10.1111/jgs.17420

Gallegos, A. M.*, Heffner, K. L., Cerulli, C., Luck, P., McGuiness, S., & Pigeon, W. R. (2020). Effects of mindfulness training on posttraumatic stress symptoms from a community-based pilot clinical trial among survivors of intimate partner violence.. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12 (8), 859-868. DOI: 10.1037/tra0000975

Chen, Q., Yang, H., Rooks, B., Anthony, M., Zhang, Z., Tadin, D., Heffner, K. L., Lin, F. V. (2020). Autonomic flexibility reflects learning and associated neuroplasticity in old age. Human Brain Mapping, 41 (13), 3608-3619. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.25034

Quiñones, M. M.*, Gallegos, A. M., Lin, F. V., & Heffner, K. L (2020). Dysregulation of inflammation, neurobiology, and cognitive function in PTSD: an integrative review. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 20 (3), 455-480. DOI: 10.3758/s13415-020-00782-9

Anderson, A., McDermott, K., Rooks, B., Heffner, K. L., Dodell-Feder, D., & Lin, F. V (2020). Decoding individual identity from brain activity elicited in imagining common experiences. Nature Communications, 11 (1). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19630-y

Lin F.V., Tao Y., Chen Q.J., Anthony M., Zhang Z.W., Tadin D., & Heffner K.L. (2020). Processing speed and attention training modifies autonomic flexibility: A mechanistic intervention study. Neuroimage, 213. PMID: 32165263 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116730

Wang X., Heffner K.L., Anthony M., & Lin F. (2019). Stress adaptation in older adults with and without cognitive impairment: an fMRI pattern-based similarity analysis. AGING-US, 11 (17), 6792-6804. PMID: 31480017 DOI: 10.18632/aging.102204

Peoples, A.R., Garland, S.N., Pigeon, W.R., Perlis, M.L., Wolf, J.R., Heffner, K.L., Mustian, K.M., Heckler, C.E., Peppone, L.J., Kamen, C.S., Morrow, G.R., Roscoe, J.A. (2019). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia Reduces Depression in Cancer Survivors. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 15 (1), 129-137. PMID: 30621831 PMCID: PMC6329536 DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.7586

Li, Y. I., Cerulli, C., Heffner, K. L., Crean, H. F., Bishop, T. M., & Pigeon, W. R. (2019). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for insomnia in PTSD: Differential relationships with symptom C=clusters. Sleep, 42 (1), A354. DOI: 10.1093/sleep/zsz067.879

Heffner K.L., France C.R., Ashrafioun L., Quiñones M., Walsh P., Maloney M.D., Giordano B.D., Pigeon W.R. (2018). Clinical pain-related outcomes and inflammatory cytokine response to pain following insomnia improvement in adults With knee osteoarthritis. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 34 (12), 1133-1140. PMID: 30134281 PMCID: PMC6219931 DOI: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000644

Elliot, A. J., Heffner, K. L., Mooney, C. J., Moynihan, J. A., & Chapman, B. P. (2018). Social Relationships and Inflammatory Markers in the MIDUS Cohort: The Role of Age and Gender Differences. 2018, 30 (6), 904-923. PMID: 28553813 DOI: 10.1177/0898264317698551

Lin F, Heffner KL, Ren P, Tadin D. (2017). A role of the parasympathetic nervous system in cognitive training. Curr Alzheimer Res, 14 (7), 784-789. PMID: 28164771 PMCID: PMC5530077 DOI: 10.2174/1567205014666170203095128

Gallegos, A. M., Crean, H. F., Pigeon, W. R., & Heffner, K. L. (2017). Meditation and yoga for posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analytic review of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Psychology Review, 58, 115-124. PMID: 29100863 PMCID: PMC5939561 DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2017.10.004

Lin, F., Rn, P., Wang, X., Anthony, M., Tadin, D., Heffner,K.L. (2017). Cortical thickness is associated with altered autonomic function in cognitively impaired and non-impaired older adults. The Journal of Physiology, 595 (22), 6969-6978. PMID: 28952161 PMCID: PMC5685832 DOI: 10.1113/JP274714

Ren, P; Heffner, KL; Jacobs, A; Lin, F (2017). Acute Affective Reactivity and Quality of Life in Older Adults with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Functional MRI Study [epub ahead of print]. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry, 25 (11), 1225-1233. PMID: 28755988 PMCID: PMC5654660 DOI: 10.1016/j.jagp.2017.06.019

Ren, P. Anthony, M. Chapman, B. P. Heffner, K. Lin, F. (2017). Amygdala functional connectivity is associated with locus of control in the context of cognitive aging. , 99, 199-206.

Heffner, K. L., Crean, H. F., & Kemp, J. E. (2016). Meditation programs for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: Aggregate findings from a multi-site evaluation. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy (8), 365-374.

Lin, F., Heffner, K., Ren, P., Tivarus, M., Brasch, J., Chen, D., Mapstone, M., Porsteinsson, A., & Tadin D. (2016). Cognitive and neural effects of vision-based speed of processing training in older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 64 (6), 1293-8.

Lin, F., Ren, P., Cotton, K., Porsteinsson, A., Mapstone, M. & Heffner, K. L. (2016). Mental fatigability and heart rate variability in mild cognitive impairment. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (24), 374-378.

Lin, F., Heffner, K.L., Ren, P., Tivarus, M.E., Brasch, J., Chen, D.G., Mapstone, M., Porsteinsson, A.P., Tadin, D. (2016). Cognitive and Neural Effects of Vision-Based Speed-of-Processing Training in Older Adults with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Study.. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 64 (6), 1293-1298. PMID: 27321608 PMCID: PMC4916855 DOI: 10.1111/jgs.14132

Pigeon, W. R., Heffner, K. L., Crean, H. F., Gallegos, A. M., Walsh, P., Seehuus, M., Cerulli, C. (2015). Responding to the need for sleep among survivors of interpersonal violence: A randomized controlled trial of a cognitive-behavioral insomnia intervention followed by PTSD treatment. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 45, 252-260.

Devereux, P. G., Heffner, K. L., Doane, M. J., Gosser, B., Nolan, M (2015). Identifying attentional deployment tactics in older adults narratives about emotionally upsetting events. Journal of Health Psychology.

Heffner, K. L., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Glaser, R., Malarkey, W. B., & Marshall, G. D. (2014). Stress and anxiety effects on positive skin test responses in young adults with allergic rhinitis. Annals of Allergy and Immunology, 113, 13-18.

Lin, F., Suhr, J., Diebold, S., & Heffner, K. L. (2014). Associations between depressive symptoms and memory deficits vary as a function of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels in healthy older adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 42, 118-123.

Lin, F., Heffner, K. L., Mapstone, M., Chen, D.G., Porsteinsson, A. (2014). Frequency of mentally stimulating activities modifies the relationship between cardiovascular reactivity and executive function in old age. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22, 1210-1221.

Lin. F, Roiland, R., Heffner, K., Johnson, M., Chen, DG., & Mapstone, M. (2014). Evaluation of objective and perceived mental fatigability in older adults with vascular risk. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 76, 458-464.

Heffner, K. L., Devereux, P. G., Ng, M. H.*, Borchardt, A. R.* & Quigley, K. S. (2013). Older adults hemodynamic responses to an acute emotional stressor: short report. Experimental Aging Research, 39, 162-178.

Poleshuck, E. L., Talbot, N. L., Moynihan, J. A., Chapman, B. P., Heffner, K. L. (2013). Depressive symptoms, pain, chronic medical morbidity, and interleukin-6 among primary care patients. Pain Medicine, 14 (5), 686-691. PMID: 23691936 PMCID: PMC5665657 DOI: 10.1111/pme.12089

Heffner, K. L., Ng, H. M.*, Suhr, J. A., France, C. R, Marshall, G. D., Pigeon, W. R., & Moynihan, J. A. (2012). Sleep disturbance and older adults inflammatory responses to acute stress. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 20, 744-752.

Heffner, K. L. (2011). Neuroendocrine effects of stress on immunity in the elderly: Implications for inflammatory disease. Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America, 31, 95-108.

Heffner, K. L., Waring, M. E., Roberts, M. B., Eaton, C. B., & Gramling, R. (2011). Social isolation, C-reactive protein, and coronary heart disease mortality among community dwelling adults. Social Science and Medicine, 72 (9), 1482-1488.

Pigeon, W. R., Heffner, K., Duberstein, P., Fiscella, K., Moynihan, J., & Chapman, B.P. (2011). Elevated sleep disturbance among blacks in an urban family medicine practice. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 24, 161-168.

Rethhorst, C., Moynihan, J., Lyness, J., Heffner, K. L., & Chapman, B. (2011). Moderating effects of moderate-intensity physical activity in the relationship between depressive symptoms and interleukin-6 in primary care patients. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73, 265-269.

Heffner, K. L., France, C. R., Trost, Z., Ng, H. M.*, & Pigeon, W. R. (2011). Chronic low back pain, sleep disturbance, and interleukin-6. Clinical Journal of Pain, 27, 35-41.

Suhr, J.A., Patterson, S. M., Austin, A. W., & Heffner, K. L. (2010). The relation of hydration status to declarative memory and working memory in older adults. The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 14, 840-843.

Gramling, R., Heffner, K. L., Klein, W.M.P., Zajac, L. E., Roberts, M., & Eaton, C. B. (2010). Is the association between optimistic cardiovascular risk perceptions and lower rates of cardiovascular disease mortality explained by biomarkers of systemic inflammation or endothelial function? A case-cohort study. BioPsychoSocial Medicine, 4, 11.

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Heffner, K. L., Glaser, R., Malarkey, W. B., Porter, K., Atkinson, C., Laskowski, B. S., Lemeshow, S., & Marshall, G. M. (2009). How stress and anxiety can alter immediate and late phase skin test responses in allergic rhinitis. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 670-680.

Suhr, J., Demireva, P., & Heffner, K. (2008). The relation of salivary cortisol to patterns of performance on a word list learning task in healthy older adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33, 1293-1296.

McGuire, L., Heffner, K., Glaser, R., Needleman, B., Malarkey, W., Dickinson, S., Lemeshow, S., Cook, C., Muscarella, P., Melvin, W., Ellison, E., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. (2006). Pain and wound healing in surgical patients. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 31, 317-325.

Heffner, K. L., Loving, T. J., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Himawan, L. K., Glaser, R., & Malarkey, W. M. (2006). Older spouses cortisol responses to marital conflict: Associations with demand/withdraw communication patterns. Journal of Behavioral Medicin, 29, 317-325.

Heffner, K. L., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Loving, T.J., Glaser, R., & Malarkey, W. B. (2004). Spousal support satisfaction as a modifier of physiological responses to marital conflict in younger and older couples. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 27, 233-254.

Loving, T. J., Heffner, K. L., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Glaser, R., & Malarkey, W. B. (2004). Stress hormone changes and marital conflict: Spouses relative power makes a difference. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 595-612.

Heffner, K. L., Loving, T. J., Robles, T., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2003). Examining psychosocial factors related to cancer incidence and progression: In search of the silver lining. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 17 (4), 109-111.

Heffner, K. L., Ginsburg, G. P., & Hartley, T. R. (2002). Appraisals and impression management opportunities: Person and situation influences on cardiovascular reactivity. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 4 (2), 165-175.

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Robles, T. R., Heffner, K. L., Loving, T. J. & Glaser, R. (2002). Psycho-oncology and cancer: Psychoneuroimmunology and cancer. Annals of Oncology, 13, 165-169.

Hartley, T. R., Ginsburg, G. P., & Heffner, K. (1999). Self-presentation and cardiovascular reactivity. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 32 (1), 77-85.

Rochester Roybal Center for Social Ties and Aging Research
9/15/2019 - 5/31/2024
Role: MPI
PI: Kathi Heffner and Kimberly Van Orden

Mindfulness based stress reduction for family caregivers of dementia patients (R01)
5/15/2016 - 4/30/2022
Role: Principal Investigator

Cognitive Training to Protect Immune Systems of Older Caregivers (R01)
1/15/2016 - 12/31/2021
Role: Principal Investigator

Targeting autonomic flexibility to enhance cognitive training outcomes in older adults with mild cognitive impairment
NIH R01 Renewal
5/11/20 - 2/28/25
Role: MPI
PI: Vankee Lin and Kathi Heffner

Cognitive Training to Protect Immune Systems of Older Caregivers - Diversity Supplement
1/15/2016 - 12/31/21
Role: Principal Investigator and Primary Mentor

Validate a Shared Neural Circuit Underlying Multiple Neuropsychiatric Symptoms
7/3/19 - 5/30/21
Role: Co-Investigator
PI: Vankee Lin