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Tomás Cabeza de Baca, Ph.D.

Professional Experience

  • Staff Scientist, NIH/NIDDK, Phoenix Epidemiology & Clinical Research Branch, Obesity & Diabetes Clinical Research Section, 2020-present
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Cardiology, University of California, San Francisco, 2016-2018
  • NIH T32 Postdoctoral Fellow, Health Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, 2014-2016
  • M.S. and Ph.D. Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona, 2014
  • B.A. Psychology, University of Texas at El Paso, 2007

Research Goal

My long-term goal is to disentangle the interplay between psychosocial, ecological, and physiological factors on metabolic functioning and energy intake/expenditure to identify and target individuals most in need of intervention.

Current Research

I am a staff scientist at the Obesity and Diabetes Clinical Research Section of the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). Given that context and early experiences play a unique role in development and health, an individual’s ability to function in unpredictable and uncontrollable environments may help explain how current life stressors modify energy allocation and functioning of the metabolic system. As such, my clinical research at the NIDDK incorporates contextual and psychosocial factors in the examination of energy intake, energy expenditure, and metabolic functioning. Current projects include delineating the underlying metabolic and hormonal profiles of individuals with food insecurity, compared to food secure individuals. I am also involved in a project that examines how prior macronutrient meal content regulates subsequent meal content, daily and across meals. The breadth of the training and research experiences provide me with the tools to integrate a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. My previous research experience incorporated comparative cross-cultural work in Latin America and the Caribbean and secondary data analysis of large national datasets including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the Midlife in the United States Survey (MIDUS), and the Women’s Health Study (WHS). I was originally trained as a developmentalist, with more recent postdoctoral expertise in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease and biological aging.

Select Publications

Chronic psychosocial and financial burden accelerates 5-year telomere shortening: findings from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study.
Cabeza de Baca T, Prather AA, Lin J, Sternfeld B, Adler N, Epel ES, Puterman E.
Mol Psychiatry (2020 May) 25:1141-1153. Abstract/Full Text
Sleep debt: the impact of weekday sleep deprivation on cardiovascular health in older women.
Cabeza de Baca T, Chayama KL, Redline S, Slopen N, Matsushita F, Prather AA, Williams DR, Buring JE, Zaslavsky AM, Albert MA.
Sleep (2019 Oct 9) 42. Abstract/Full Text
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Research in Plain Language

Obesity and its underlying cardiometabolic complications afflict approximately 20 million individuals residing in the United States. The quality of life, health care costs and loss of economic productivity add an unduly burden at the individual- and population-level. As such, the work in our unit seeks to understand the impact of psychosocial and physiological factors on food intake, energy expenditure, and weight gain. By understanding the interplay of these important factors, we ultimately hope to inform interventions that will target populations most at risk.