The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program ended February 2017. The site will no longer be updated. More »

Kaja Z. LeWinn, Sc.D., M.S.

 RWJF Health & Society Scholar:

Social Epidemiology, Neuroscience

Area(s) of Expertise:
Stress Reactivity, Social and Cognitive Development, Neurodevelopment



Dr. Kaja LeWinn’s research goal is to identify modifiable characteristics of the social environment that may be targeted to promote resilience to mental health disorders in community based settings like schools. Dr. LeWinn completed her doctorate in Social Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.  In her doctoral work, she examined the impact of stress hormones during gestation and social disadvantage in the first five years of life on cognitive performance in childhood. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at the UCSF-UC Berkeley site, Dr. LeWinn sought a more direct, mechanistic understanding of brain development and skills in neuroimaging. Through a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation pilot grant, she was able to examine whether the functioning of emotion regulatory neural circuitry is associated with early life socioeconomic disadvantage.  Informed by her findings that early social adversity may be associated with the neural correlates of emotion regulation, Dr. LeWinn became interested in bridging population health and neuroscience perspectives to develop better preventive interventions that promote resilience to depression in community based settings. In the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF, her focus has been on integrating approaches from social epidemiology, psychology, and neuroscience to develop novel preventive interventions that promote the development of emotion regulatory neural circuitry and can be applied universally in school-based settings.  To accomplish this work, Dr. LeWinn has forg  ed several partnerships with local agencies in San Francisco that are also committed to this work, including the San Francisco Unified School District.  Dr. LeWinn is currently supported by an NIMH K01 Career Development Award that focuses on understanding the neural and social underpinnings of emotion regulation development during adolescence. Ultimately, Dr. LeWinn would like to use her research to create novel preventive interventions that promote mental health and can be applied universally in school-based settings.

Journal Articles:
Click here for a list of Kaja LeWinn's available publications in PubMed.