Institute for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Research (IPR), University of Southern California University of Southern California
David Black, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine

Phone: 3234428223
Location: 2001 N Soto Street, 3rd Floor, SSB 302D Los Angeles, CA 90032

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About Dr. Black
About Dr. Black

Dr. Black is an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and faculty member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. His research focuses on the delivery and evaluation of mind-body medicine modalities, specifically mindfulness training, in order to modify psychological stress and other mental/physical health symptoms and states. He is broadly interested in how mind-body approaches impact stress biology, specifically neuroendocrine and immune system function in humans. His studies incorporate both observational and experimental methodology with measurements quantified by survey, brain imaging, gene expression, and biomarker (from saliva and blood) research. Research topics of interest include the impact of mind-body approaches on: 1) cortisol and inflammatory markers, 2) brain and biokinetic function, and 3) alleviating symptomatology. The overall goal of this work is to elucidate the harmonious interactions between mind and body, and to inform how these interactions can be harnessed for the prevention and treatment of psychological suffering and disease states in order to promote health and wellness.

Dr. Black’s Research Interests

We humans are a conscious and social species. We know that we are aware and so we can learn much from our environment the strategies for living out our days. Some learned strategies will be adaptive and others not so helpful. I am intrigued by how humans shape and are shaped by their social world, real and perceived. As to the scientific approach, I use a social stress of clinical symptoms models to study how the social world impacts the human mind and biology in a manner that has implications for states of health and disease. I am particularly interested in the human stress cascade, a biological communication system linking the central nervous system and immune system. My research shows that mind and biology are malleable and change in response to the social world. Pulling from models in psychoneuroimmunology, I have used experimental studies with human subjects to show that mind-body practices such as mindfulness meditation allow humans to reperceive their social world, circumstance, and symptoms. Such training in perception can impact mood, stress, and behavior, and can go “skin deep” to change the activity of hormones and cells. Initial findings suggest that our biological systems are interpreting the social world through the lens of perception, a lens that may be modified through mindfulness training.

Future Research Interests

The impact of mindfulness training on stress and mood symptoms and immune biology, efficacy testing of mind-body interventions, brain and biokinetic changes associated with mind-body training, alleviating psychological suffering through self-healing approaches.

Recent Publications

Black, D.S., Li, M., Ihenacho, U., Nguyen, N., Reyes, M., Milam, J., Pentz, M., Figueiredo, J.C. (2015). Shared health characteristics in Hispanic colorectal cancer patients and their primary social support person following primary diagnosis. Psycho-Oncology. [PMID: 26291178]

Black, D.S., Lam, C., Ihenacho, U., Nguyen, N., Figueiredo, J. (2016) Complementary and integrative health practices among Hispanics diagnosed with colorectal cancer: Utilization and communication with physicians. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. [PMID: 27163178]

Black, D.S. O’Reilly, G., Olmstead, R., Breen, E., Irwin, M. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4):494-501.

Black, D. S., Slavich, G. M. (2016). Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1):13-24

Selected Publications

Black, D.S., Milam, J., & Sussman, S. (2009). Sitting meditation interventions among youth: A review of treatment efficacy. Pediatrics, 124(3):532. [PMID: 19706568]

Black, D.S., Sun, P., Rohrbach, L., Sussman, S. (2011). Decision-making style and gender moderation the self-efficacy--condom use link among adolescents and young adults: Informing targeted STI/HIV prevention programs. JAMA Pediatrics, 165(4):320.

Black, D. S., Cole, S., Irwin, M., Breen, E., St Cyr, N. M., Nazarian, N., Khalsa, D., Lavretsky, H. (2013). Yogic meditation reverses NF-kB and IRF-related transcriptome dynamics in leukocytes of family dementia caregivers in a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology 38(3):348.

Professional History
University of California, Los Angeles
2011 — 2013
Education History
Public Health
California State University, Northridge
2004 — 2006
Ph.D. (NIH/NCI Fellow)
Preventive Medicine
University of Southern California
2006 — 2011
Postdoctoral (NIH/NIMH Fellow)
University of California at Los Angeles
2011 — 2013
Courses Taught

HP300: Theoretical Principles of Health Behavior

HP490: Undergraduate Directed Research

PM590: Graduate Directed Research

PM690: Graduate Directed Research

PM790: Graduate Directed Research


USC Mentoring Award for Graduate Students, Center for Excellence in Teaching, 2016

Society of Behavioral Medicine Excellent Submission Citation Winner, 2014

USC Medical Innovation Program finalist, 2013

National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Research Fellow award, 2011-2013

National Institute for Drug Abuse travel award, 2012

Mind and Life Institute summer research fellow, 2012

National Cancer Institute Predoctoral Research Fellow award, 2006-2011

USC Stevens Center for Innovation project innovator, 2010

CSU Masters Thesis Research Fellowship, 2005-2006

Charlotte Resnick Memorial Research Scholarship, 2005

Institute for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Research, University of Southern California • 2001 N Soto Street, 3rd Floor, MC 9239, Los Angeles, CA 90032 • (323) 442-8200