Michael R. Irwin, MD


Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Professor of Psychology, UCLA College of Letters and Sciences; Director, Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Semel Institute for Neuroscience
Primary Area: Behavioral Neuroscience
Secondary Area: Health Psychology
Home Department: Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Address: 300 UCLA Medical Plaza #3109, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Phone: 310 825 8281
Email: mirwin1@ucla.edu


Michael R. Irwin is one of the world’s foremost experts on the psychoneuroimmunological pathways by which psychosocial and behavioral factors influence health and disease.  He is the Norman Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, Director of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the UCLA Semel Institute, Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the UCLA Semel Institute, and Director of the Center’s Inflammatory Biology Core. Dr. Irwin pioneered basic studies to show that activation of receptor dependent mechanisms in the brain (e.g., corticotropin releasing hormone) play a key role in the integration of the HPA, autonomic, and immune responses to stress.  His clinical translational studies were among the first to demonstrate that b-adrenergic receptor mechanisms steered a reduction in anti-viral immunity and an increase inflammatory responses, and the role of these molecular pathways on infectious- and inflammatory disease pathogenesis in older adults, and in patients with depression, insomnia, cardiovascular disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and alcohol- and cocaine use disorders. His ongoing work is focused on 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’s research has broadly integrated data from laboratory animal studies, epidemiological studies, clinical naturalistic history- and prospective studies, experimental studies, and randomized controlled trials that have employed both behavioral- and mind-body approaches.  Together, his research has been supported continuously for over 25 years by his PI leadership of over 25 R01 type awards from the National Institute of Aging, National Cancer Institute, National Heart Lung and Blood Disorders Institute, National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders, National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and the National Institute of Mental Health. Honors/Awards 1991                 Early Career Award, American Psychosomatic Society 2001                President – Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society 2001-2004      Member, National Advisory Council, Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2003                President – Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research 2005                Outstanding Faculty Research Mentor Award, UCLA School of Medicine 2007                Norman Cousins Research Award, Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society 2008                Chair, Blue Ribbon Intramural Research Strategic Planning Panel, NCCAM 2008                Distinguished Fellow, American Psychiatric Association 2008-2010      Secretary Treasurer, American Psychosomatic Society 2009                Lauda Wellness Award 2010-2011        President-Elect/President, American Psychosomatic Society 2014                 Best Research Prize, European Society of Integrative Medicine 2014-2016       Chairperson, IH Centers for Scientific Review, Mechanisms of Emotion, Stress and Health Study Section

Representative Publications:

Selected from over 265 peer-reviewed publications: 1.      O’Connor MF, Wellisch D, Stanton AL, Olmstead R, Irwin MR: Diurnal cortisol patterns in complicated and non-complicated grief.  Psychoneuroendocrinology ;37(5):725-8, 2012. PMID: 21925795. 2.      Bower JE, Garet D, Sternlieb B, Ganz PA, Irwin MR, Olmstead R, Greendale G: Yoga for persistent fatigue in breast cancer survivors:  a randomized controlled trial. Cancer 118:3766-75, 2012 PMID: 22180393. 3.      Nicassio PM, Kay M, Custodio M, Irwin MR, Olmstead R, Weisman MH:  Contribution of pain and depression to self-reported sleep disturbance in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Pain 153:107-12, 2012. PMID 22051047. 4.      Thomas KS, Bower JE, Williamson TJ, Hoyt MA, Wellisch D, Stanton AL, Irwin MR: Post-traumatic stress disorder and blunted diurnal cortisol production in partners of prostate cancer patients.  Psychoneuroendocrinology 37(8):1181-90, 2012. 5.      Irwin MR, Olmstead R,  Carrillo C, Sadeghi N, Fitzgerald J, Ranganath V, Nicassio PM: Sleep loss exacerbates fatigue, depression and pain in rheumatoid arthritis.  Sleep 35(4):537-43, 2012. PMID: 22467992. 6.      Inagaki TK, Keely MA, Muscatell A, Irwin MR, Cole SW, Eisenberger NI:  Inflammation selectively enhances amygdala activity to socially threatening images Neuroimage 15;59(4):3222-6, 2012. PMID: 22079507. 7.      Doering L, Chen B, Cross R, Magsarili MC, Nyamathi A, Irwin MR: Early cognitive behavioral therapy for depression after cardiac surgery.  Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing 28:370-379, 2013. PMID: 22635060. 8.      Lavretsky H, Siddarth P, Nazarian N, Cyr NSt, Witarama T, Breen EC, Khalsa DS, Lin J, Blackburn E, Epel ES, Irwin MR:  A pilot study of yogic meditation for distressed family dementia caregivers: Effects on mental health, cognition, telomerase.  International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 28(1):57-65.2012. PMID: 22407663. 9.      Nicassio PM,  Ormseth SR, Custodio MK, Olmstead R, Irwin MR, Weisman MH: A multidimensional model of fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Rheumatology 39:1807-13, 2012 PMID: 22660801.Editorial: Hewlett S, Choy E, Kirwan. Furthering our understanding of fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis. J Rheumatol 2012;39;1775-1777. 10.  Ishii S, Karlamangla A, Bote M, Irwin MR, Jacobs D, Cho HJ, Seeman TS: Gender, obesity and repeated elevation of C-reactive protein: data from the CARDIA cohort. PLoS ONE 7(4): e36062. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036062, 2012. 11.  Kierlin L, Olmstead R, Yokomizo M, Nicassio P, Irwin MRDiagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria for insomnia related impairment in daytime functioning: polysomnographic correlates in older adults.  Sleep Medicine 13:958-960, 2012.  PMID: 22721715. 12.  Hoyt MA, Irwin MR, Stanton A: Cancer-related masculine threat, emotional approach coping, and physical functioning following treatment for prostate cancer. Health Psychology 32(1):66-74, 2013. PMID: 23316854. 13.  Black DS, Cole S, Irwin MR, Breen E, St. Cyr MN, Nazarian N, Khalsa DS, Lavretsky H: Yogic mediation reverses NF-κB and IRF-related transcriptome dynamics in leukocytes among caregivers facing a significant life stressor. Psychoneuroendocrinology 38(3):348-55, 2013. 14.  Irwin MR, Olmstead R, Ganz PA, Haque R: Sleep disturbance, inflammation and depression risk in cancer survivors.  Brain Behavior and Immunity 30 S58–S67, 2013. PMID: 22634367. 15.  Cho HJ, Kivimaki M, Bower JE, Irwin MR:  Association of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 with new-onset fatigue in the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. Psychological Medicine 43(8):1773-83, 2013 PMID: 23151405. 16.  Cho HJ, Bower JE, Kiefe CI, Seeman TE, Irwin MR: Early life stress and inflammatory mechanisms of fatigue in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study.  Brain Behavior and  Immunity 26:859-65, 2012. PMID: 22554493. 17.  Nicassio PM, Ormseth SR, Custodio MK, Olmstead R, Weisman MH, Irwin MR: Confirmatory factor analysis of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index in rheumatoid arthritis patients.  Behavioral Sleep Medicine  12:1-12, 2014. PMID: 23390921. 18.  Irwin MR, Rothermundt M:  Clinical psychoneuroimmunology. Handbook of Clinical Neurology. 106:211-25, 2012. PMID: 22608623. 19.  Schultze-Florey CR, Martínez-Maza O, Magpantay L, Breen, EC, Irwin MR, Gündel H, O’Connor MF: When grief makes you sick: bereavement induced systemic inflammation is a question of genotype Brain Behavior and Immunity. 26(7):1066-71, 2012 PMID: 22735772. 20.  Creswell JD, Irwin MR, Burklund LJ, Lieberman MD, Arevalo JMG, Ma J, Cole SW: Mindfulness meditation training reduces loneliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults: a randomized controlled trial.  Brain Behavior and Immunity 26(7):1095-101, 2012 PMID: 22820409. 21.  Irwin MR: Sleep and infectious disease risk: Commentary on Prather et al. Sleep and antibody response to hepatitis B vaccination. Sleep 35(8):1025-6, 2012. 22.  Ganz PA, Bower JE, Kwan L, Castellon SA, Silverman DHS, Irwin MR, Cole SW: Does tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF α play a role in post-chemotherapy cerebral dysfunction? Brain Behavior and Immunity PMID: 22884417 23.  Elderkin-Thompson V, Irwin MR, Helleman G, Kumar A:  Interleukin-6 and memory functions of encoding and recall in healthy and depressed elderly subjects.  American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 20(9):753-63, 2012. PMID: 22892560. 24.  Cole JC, Khahan D, Clements PJ, Seibold JR, Tashkin DP, Paulus HE, Irwin MR, Motivala SJ, Furst DE, Scleroderma Lung Study and Relaxin Study:  Single-factor scoring validation for the Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI) in patients with systemic sclerosis and comparison with early rheumatoid arthritis patients.  Quality of Life Research. 15:1383-1394, 2012. 25.  Irwin MR, Levin MJ, Laudenslager M, Carrillo C, Olmstead R, Lucko A, Lange N, Stanley HA, Caulfield MJ, Weinberg A,  Chan ISF, Clair J, Smith JG, Marchese RD, Williams HM, Beck DJ, McCook PT, Zhang JH, Johnson G, Oxman MN: Varicella-zoster virus specific immune responses to a herpes zoster vaccine in elderly recipients with depression and the impact of antidepressant medications. Clinical Infectious Diseases 56(8):1085-93, 2013. PMID: 23413415 26.  Schmader KE, Oxman MN, Levin MJ, Johnson G, Zhang JH, Betts R, Morrison VA, Gelb L, Guatelli JC, Harbecke R, Pachucki C, Keay S, Menzies B, Griffin MR, Kauffman C, Marques A, Toney J, Keller PM, Li X, Chan IS, Annunziato P; Shingles Prevention Study Group. Persistence of the efficacy of zoster vaccine in the shingles prevention study and the short-term persistence substudy.  Clinical Infectious Disease 55(10):1320-8, 2012. PMID: 22828595 27.  Griffis C, Breen EC, Goldberg A, Witarama T, Kotlerman J, Compton M, Irwin MR: Acute painful stress and inflammatory mediator production. Neuroimmunomodulation 20(3):127-133, 2013. PMID: 23407214 28.  Bower JE, Ganz PA, Irwin MR, Castellon S, Arevalo J, Cole SW:  Cytokine genetic variation and cancer-related behavioral symptoms among patients with breast cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology 31(13):1656-61, 2013. PMID: 23530106 29.  Hoyt MA, Stanton AL, Bower JE, Thomas KS, Litwin MS, Breen EC, Irwin MR: Inflammatory biomarkers and emotional approach coping in men with prostate cancer. Brain Behavior and Immunity 32:173-92, 013. 30.  Ganz PA, Kwan L, Castellon SA, Oppenheim A, Bower JE, Silverman DHS, Cole SW, Irwin MR, Ancoli-Israel S, Belin TR:  Cognitive complaints after breast cancer treatments:  relationship to neuropsychological test performance.  Journal of National Cancer Institute, 105:791-801, 2013. PMID: 23606729 31.  Campo RA, O’Connor K, Light KC, Nakamura Y, Lipschitz D, LaStayo PC, Pappas L, Boucher K, Irwin MR, Agarwal N, Kinney AY: Feasibility and acceptability of a Tai Chi Chih randomized controlled trial in senior female cancer survivors.  Integrative Cancer Therapy, 12:464-74,  2013.  PMID: 23620504 32.  Pomykala KL, Ganz PA, Bower JE, Kwan L,  Castellon SA, Mallam S, Cheng I,  Ahn R, Breen EC, Irwin MR, Silverman DHS: The association between pro-inflammatory cytokines, regional cerebral metabolism, and cognitive complaints following adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer Brain Imaging and Behavior 2013 PMID: 23835929 33.  Lee E, Cho HJ, Olmstead R, Levin MJ, Oxman MN, Irwin MR: Persistent  sleep disturbance and prospective risk of depression in community dwelling older adults.  Sleep 36:1685-91. PMID: 24179302 34.  Barsevick AM, Irwin MR, Hinds P, Miller A, Berger A, Jacobsen P, Ancoli-Israel S, Reeve B, Mustian K, O’Mara A, Lai JS, Cella D and National Cancer Institute Clinical Trials Planning Group: Recommendations for high priority research on cancer-related fatigue in children and adults.  Journal of National Cancer Institute 105(19):1432-40 2013. PMID: 24047960 35.  Youngstedt SD, Jean-Louis G, Bootzin R, Irwin MR:  Chronic moderate sleep restriction in older long sleepers and older average duration sleepers: a randomized controlled trial.  Contemporary Clinical Trials 28;36(1):175-186, 2013 PMID: 23811325 36.  Moughrabi S, Evangelista LS, Habib SI, Kassabian L, Breen EC, Nyamathi A, Irwin M: In patients with stable heart failure, soluble TNF-receptor 2 is associated with increased risk for depressive symptoms.  Biological Research for Nursing 2013 37.  Dimsdale JE, Creed F, Escobar J, Sharpe M, Wulsin L, Barsky A, Lee S, Irwin MR, Levenson J: Somatic symptom disorder: an important change in DSM. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 75(3):223-8, 2013.PMID: 23972410 38.  Dzierzewski JM, Fung CH, Jouldjian S, Alessi C,Irwin MR, Martin JL: Decreased daytime sleep is associated with improved cognition following hospital discharge in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 62: 47-53, 2014. 39.  Irwin MR:  Depression and insomnia in cancer:  prevalence, risk factors, and effects on cancer outcomes.  Current Psychiatry Reports 15(11):404, 2013. PMID: 24078066. 40.  Morrison VA, Oxman MN, Levin MJ, Schmader KE, Guatelli JC, Betts RF, Gelb LD, Pachucki CT, Keay SK, Menzies B, Griffin MR, Kauffman CA, Marques AR, Toney JF, Simberkoff MS, Serrao R, Arbeit RD, Gnann JW, Greenberg RN, Holodniy M, Keitel WA, Yeh SS, Davis LE, Crawford GE, Neuzil KM, Johnson GR, Zhang JH, Harbecke R, Chan IS, Keller PM, Williams HM, Boardman KD, Silber JL, Annunziato PW; Shingles Prevention Study Group. Safety of zoster Vaccine in elderly adults following documented herpes zoster. Journal of Infectious Disease. 15;208(4):559-63, 2013.PMID: 23633406 41.  O’Connor MF, Schultze-Florey CR, Irwin MR, Arevalo JMG, Cole SW:    Divergent gene expression responses to complicated grief and non-complicated grief.  Brain Behavior and Immunity. 37:78-83, 2014.  PMID:24380850 42.  Slavich G, Irwin MR: From stress to inflammation and major depressive disorder: a social signal transduction theory of depression.  Psychological Bulletin. 140(3):774-815, 2014. PMID: 24417575 43.  Bower JE, Garet D, Sternlieb B, Crosswell AD, Ganz PA, Irwin MR, Olmstead R, Greendale G, Cole SW: Yoga reduces inflammatory processes in breast cancer survivors:  A randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology 43:20–29, 2014 PMID: 24703167 44.  Berklund LJ, Creswell D, Irwin MR, Lieberman MD: Common neural bases of affect labeling and reappraisal.  Frontiers in Psychology 24;5:221, 2014  PMID: 24715880 45.  Doering LV, Chen B, McGuire A, Bodán RC, Irwin MR: Persistent depressive symptoms and pain after cardiac surgery Psychosomatic Medicine 2014 Jun 20.  [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24979578 46.  Morgan N, Irwin MR, Chung M, Wang C:  The effects of mind-body therapies (tai chi, Qi gong, meditation and yoga) on the immune system: a systematic review. PLoS One. 9(7):e100903, 2014. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100903. eCollection. PMID: 24988414 47.  Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR: Mindfulness meditation versus sleep hygiene education for sleep problems in older adults: design and methodology of a randomized controlled trial.  Contemporary Clinical Trials pii: S1551-7144(14)00095-0. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2014.06.013, 2014 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24993561 48.  Prasad SM, Eggener SE, Lipsitz SR, Irwin MR, Ganz PA, Hu JC: The effect of depression on the diagnosis, treatment and mortality of men with prostate cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology pii: JCO.2013.51.1048, 2014. PMID: 25002728