Richard P. Sloan is Nathaniel Wharton Professor of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center. He also is Chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
During his nearly 30 years at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Sloan’s research has focused on a variety of topics, all revolving around the general theme of understanding the links between psychological, psychosocial, and behavioral factors and physical illness. He and his research group have studied how depression and hostility influence the risk of heart disease and the mechanisms – nervous system, inflammation, health behaviors like smoking and exercise – that may be responsible for this connection.
This work has led to a series of intervention trials designed to use cognitive behavior therapy, exercise, and nutritional agents to improve health and lower risk. Most recently, these trials demonstrated that a cocoa derivative improved the function of the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning and improved associated memory and learning. Another very recently completed trial showed that 24-weeks of aerobic exercise training improved cognitive function in older but not younger adults and that this improvement corresponded to increased size of the cerebral cortex.
His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Heart Association, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Greenwall Foundation.