Lisa Eyler, PhD
The Mental Health in Aging Unit uses state-of-the art techniques to measure aging of the body and brain among Veterans with serious mental illness and to understand mechanisms underlying cognitive, behavioral, and functional changes across adulthood among patients with psychosis. We aim to understand aging in the context of serious mental illness through a comprehensive and integrated approach. Our studies involve measures of brain structure and function using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood-based biomarkers of inflammation and other biological systems, as well as continuous, mobile monitoring of behaviors like sleep and physical activity and in-the-moment emotions and interactions. Our observational studies help set the stage for individualized and whole-person interventions to improve functioning and promote recovery of Veterans with serious mental illnesses as they age.
Dr. Eyler received her undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1991 and her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. She then completed a clinical psychology internship at UC San Diego and the San Diego VA, with a focus on neuropsychological assessment and adult outpatient psychotherapy. From 1997-1999, she was a post-doctoral fellow in Geriatric Psychology under the mentorship of Dilip Jeste, M.D. and Gregory Brown, Ph.D. She then joined the faculty of the Desert-Pacific Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) as a Research Health Scientist. In 2004, she was appointed an Assistant Professor in the UCSD Department of Psychiatry, in 2010, she became an Associate Professor, and was promoted to Professor in 2016. Dr. Eyler is a Clinical Research Psychologist in the MIRECC program and Director of the MIRECC Mental Health in Aging Unit. In addition, she serves as the Director of the Center for Empathy and Compassion Training in Medical Education, which is part of the T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion at UC San Diego. She also serves as a faculty member in the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and the Stein Institute for Research on Aging, and is a member of the steering committee for the UCSD Center for Healthy Aging. Dr. Eyler is chair of the Psychiatry Department Chair’s Advisory Committee on Diversity Issues, and involved in many equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at UCSD.
Dr. Eyler's research focuses on understanding individual differences in cognitive and emotional functioning using neurobiological measures including structural and functional brain imaging. In particular, she has examined the relationship between cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and abnormalities of brain function and how these relationships may change with age. She completed an NIMH-funded R01 project that examined whether brain structure and function appear to age more rapidly among individuals with bipolar disorder and how this related to increasing cognitive deficits with age. A recently-completed longitudinal study investigated how blood-based inflammatory markers and mood variability related to short- and long-term cognitive changes in bipolar disorder. Dr. Eyler is also a co-investigator on a grant examining accelerated biological and inflammatory aging in schizophrenia. Additionally, she serves as a co-investigator in the Autism Center of Excellence at UCSD studying how neuroimaging measures in infants and toddlers at risk for autism can be used to predict language outcomes. Dr. Eyler additionally is a co-investigator on the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging MRI study which aims to understand genetic and environmental contributions to brain aging. She also has an interest in healthy aging and has conducted studies examining the relationship of cognitive and emotional success to brain function among healthy seniors. Internationally, she is an active member of the Older Adult Bipolar Disorder Task Force of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, an investigator in several global consortia including the Global Aging and Geriatric Experiments in Bipolar Database (GAGE-BD), the ENIGMA Bipolar collaboration to share global neuroimaging data, and the International Consortium on Neurocognition in Bipolar Disorder (ICONIC-BD).
Dr. Eyler is a licensed clinical psychologist with training in neuropsychological and diagnostic assessment and adult outpatient psychotherapy.