Board Member Spotlight: Sandra Weiss

Sandra Weiss, PhD, RN, FAAN
University of California San Francisco, School of Nursing

What advice would you give your younger self?
Identify what brings you the most joy and meaning in your work. It can be tempting to be drawn into projects or positions where others tell you you're needed or they say you have particular talents. But this can distract you from a career trajectory that may ultimately be your greatest source of contribution and satisfaction in life. It's important to make clear decisions about your priorities and stay in charge of your career.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? 
My favorite spot is anywhere in nature where I'm surrounded by wildlife, large powerful trees, vocal birds, and foliage of all kinds. The beauty and peacefulness of nature always help me 'vacate' and revive my soul!

What made you want to pursue a career in nursing?
I always admired the compassion and competence of a favorite aunt who was a nurse. She would travel all over the country to help care for people when disasters occurred. Then, in high school, the teacher of my biology course was a woman who totally excited my mind with the potential of science. As I thought about my plans for college, nursing seemed like the perfect career choice for integrating the elements of care and science that meant so much to me.

What has been your most interesting/surprising outcome while conducting nursing research?
It's always astounding to me how many sex differences I continually find in my research. I now examine these differences in any analysis. They are present in psychological, social and biological variables and I have identified them from as early as fetal vulnerabilities to predictors of health problems among adults.

What is a fun fact many people may not know about you?
I grew up on a farm; I was the first 'girl' to ever win the math award at graduation from high school; and I love to dance (especially latin dancing).

About Sandra
Dr. Weiss is the Robert C. and Delphine Wentland Eschbach Chair in Mental Health. Her program of research focuses on the interaction between biological and psychological factors as they impact the mental health of children and adults. She is currently examining precursors of emotion regulation and affective disorders in early childhood, including the ways in which genetic, neuroendocrine, and autonomic nervous system vulnerabilities interact with adverse events such as stress, trauma and parental depression during pregnancy and infancy. Her NIH-funded research is examining the effects of stress hormones, inflammatory markers, and maternal depression on development of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis and stress regulation of preterm and term infants. In addition, her research with the National Network of Depression Centers is characterizing context, symptoms and treatment of women who experience depression. Dr. Weiss is Co-Director of the UCSF Depression Center and is involved in collaborative research with faculty in the Department of Psychiatry, the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the Division of Neonatology.


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