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Psychology student earns award at annual meeting of Association for Psychological Science

June 2, 2014

Kristin Wilborn, a member of the inaugural cohort of the Psychology Department’s doctoral program, was the recipient of an award from the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (SSCP) at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS). APS is an international organization representing a number of fields of psychological research, and SSCP gave out only four such awards this year. Ms. Wilborn earned the award for a poster she presented at this year’s APS meeting along with her two co-authors, Deborah Mangold (UTSA, Associate Professor) and Maureen Pirog (UTSA, Psychology student).  The poster was titled “Appraised discrimination predicts inflammation via increased depression and blunted cortisol in Mexican-Americans.”  As the title suggests, the research examined the relationship between feeling discriminated against and inflammatory responses.  Ms. Wilborn’s study suggests that feeling discriminated against leads to a number of symptoms associated with depression.  This psychological state leads to a person having lower cortisol.  Because cortisol is one of the regulators of cytokines (i.e., it “turns them off” when not needed), this blunted cortisol in turn contributes to increased cytokine activity.  Although understanding this sequence of events is important in its own right, it may also help explain the relationship between stress and various cardiovascular problems as high levels of inflammatory cytokines such as those measured in Ms. Wilborn’s study have been implicated as a possible contributor to heart disease.

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