Rebecca C Thurston, PhD

Professor, Psychiatry

Professor, Epidemiology

Professor, Psychology

Director, Women's Biobehavioral Health Laboratory


3811 O'Hara St (mailing), 201 North Craig St Room 206 (office), Pittsburgh, PA 15213
R-znvy: guhefgbaep@hczp.rqh
Primary Phone: 967-193-4532
Secondary Phone: 967-193-2541
Web site:

Personal Statement

I lead an interdisciplinary research program focusing on cardiovascular risk and midlife women's health. I am currently conducting NIH R01-funded work testing the relations between menopausal hot flashes and cardiovascular disease risk in women. I am also PI of a K24 grant focused on interdisciplinary training and mentoring in women's cardiovascular health. In this work, I utilize novel ambulatory monitoring protocols to assess physiology, affect, and sleep in women’s home environments, and consider them in relation to the development of atherosclerosis in women. I additionally conduct behavioral interventions to reduce hot flashes, improve quality of life, and reduce cardiovascular disease risk in midlife women. A final line of my research focuses on psychosocial factors in cardiovascular disease risk in women, including socioeconomic and racial disparities in cardiovascular disease in women, as well as the role of psychosocial factors such as depression, anxiety, and violence exposure. Methodologically, my work integrates methods from health psychology, behavioral medicine, and epidemiology.


Stanford University, Stanford, CA | BA Human Biology
Duke University, Durham, NC | PhD Clinical Health Psychology
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA | Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar

Research Interests

Cardiovascular Disease, Women's Health, Menopause, Health Disparities, Psychosocial Factors

Selected Publications

Thurston RC, Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Sherwood A. Emotional antecedents to hot flashes during daily life. Psychosom Med. 2005 Jan-Feb; 67(1):137-46. PMID: 15673636
Thurston RC, Kubzansky LD, Kawachi I, Berkman LF. Is the association between socioeconomic position and coronary heart disease stronger among women than men? Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Jul; 162(2):57-65.
Thurston RC, Kubzansky LD. Multiple sources of psychosocial disadvantage and risk of coronary heart disease. Psychosom Med. 2007 Nov; 69(8):748-55.

Thurston RC, Sowers MF, Chang Y, Sternfeld B, Gold E, Johnston JM, Matthews KA.  Adiposity and vasomotor symptoms among midlife women: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Jan; 167(1):78-85.

Mendelson T, Thurston RC, Kubzansky LD. Affective and cardiovascular effects of experimentally-induced social status. Health Psychol. 2008 Jul; 27(4):482-9. 

Thurston RC, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Everson-Rose SA, Hess R, Matthews KA. Hot flashes and subclinical cardiovascular disease: Findings from The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation Heart Study. Circulation. 2008 Sep; 118(12):1234-40.

Thurston RC, Bromberger J, Chang Y, Goldbacher E, Brown C, Cyranowski JM, Matthews KA. Childhood abuse or neglect is associated with increased vasomotor symptom reporting among midlife women. Menopause. 2008 Jan-Feb; 15(1):16-22.

Thurston RC, Sowers MR, Sternfeld B, Gold EB, Bromberger J, Chang Y, Joffe H, Crandall CJ, Waetjen LE, Matthews KA. Gains in body fat and vasomotor symptom reporting over the menopausal transition: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Sep; 170(6):766-74. 

Thurston RC, Kubzansky LD. Women, loneliness, and incident coronary heart disease. Psychosom Med. 2009 Oct; 71(8):836-42.

Low CA, Thurston RC, Matthews KA. Psychosocial factors in the development of heart disease in women: Current status and future directions. Psychosom Med. 2010 Nov; 72(9):842-54.

Thurston RC, Sherwood A, Matthews KA, Blumenthal JA. Household responsibilities, income, and ambulatory blood pressure among working men and women. Psychosom Med. 2011 Feb-Mar; 73(2):200-5. 

Thurston RC, Hernandez J, Del Rio JM, De la Torre F. Support vector machines to improve physiologic hot flash measures: Application to the ambulatory setting. Psychophysiology. 2011 Jul; 48(7):1015-21.

Thurston RC, El Khoudary SR, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Crandall CJ, Gold E, Sternfeld B, Selzer F, Matthews KA. Are vasomotor symptoms associated with alterations in hemostatic and inflammatory markers? Findings from The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Menopause. 2011 Oct; 18(10):1044-51.

Thurston RC, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Everson-Rose S, Hess R, Powell LH, Matthews KA. Hot flashes and carotid intima media thickness among midlife women. Menopause. 2011 Apr; 18(4):352-38.

Thurston RC, Santoro N, Matthews KA. Adiposity and hot flashes in midlife women: A modifying role of age. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Oct; 96(10):E1588-95. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-1082. PMCID: PMC3200246

Thurston RC, Christie IC, Matthews KA. Hot flashes and cardiac vagal control during women's daily lives. Menopause. 2012 Apr; 19(4):406-12. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3182337166. PMCID: PMC3292670

Thurston RC, El Khoudary SR, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Crandall CJ, Gold E, Sternfeld B, Joffe H, Selzer F, Matthews KA. Vasomotor symptoms and lipid profiles in women transitioning through menopause. Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Apr; 119(4):753-61.

Thurston RC, Santoro N, Matthews KA. Are vasomotor symptoms associated with sleep characteristics among symptomatic midlife women? Comparisons of self-report and objective measures.  Menopause. 2012 Jul; 19(7):742-8.

Thurston RC, El Khoudary SR, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Crandall CJ, Sternfeld B, Joffe H, Selzer F, Gold E, Matthews KA. Vasomotor symptoms and insulin resistance in The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Oct; 97(10):3487-94.

Thurston RC, Chang Y, Mancuso P, Matthews KA.  Adipokines, adiposity, and vasomotor symptoms during the menopausal transition: Findings from The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation.  Fert Steril.  2013 Sep; 100(3):793-800. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.05.005. PMID: 23755946 PMCID: PMC3759568.

Thurston RC, Rewak M, Kubzansky LD. An anxious heart: Anxiety and the onset of cardiovascular diseases. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. 2013 May-Jun; 55(6):524-37. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2013.03.007. PMID: 23621962

Gibson C, Matthews K, Thurston R.  Daily physical activity and hot flashes in The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation FLASHES study.  Fertil Steril. 2014 Apr; 101(4):1110-6.

Thurston RC, Chang Y, Derby CA, Bromberger JT, Harlow SD, Janssen I, Matthews KA. Abuse and subclinical cardiovascular disease among midlife women: Findings from The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Stroke. 2014 Aug; 45(8):2246-51

Thomas HN, Hess R, Thurston RC. Correlates of sexual activity and satisfaction in midlife and older women. Ann Fam Med. 2015 Jul-Aug; 13(4):336-42.

Lambiase MJ, Kubzansky LD, Thurston RC. Positive psychological health and stroke risk: The benefits of emotional vitality. Health Psych. 2015 Oct; 34(10):1043-6.

Avis NE, Crawford SL, Greendale G, Bromberger JT, Everson-Rose SA, Gold EB, Hess R, Joffe H, Kravitz HM, Tepper PG, Thurston RC. Duration of menopausal vasomotor symptoms over the menopause transition. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015 Apr; 175(4):531-9.

Peterson LM, Matthews KA, Derby CA, Bromberger JT, Thurston RC. The relationship between cumulative unfair treatment and intima media thickness and adventitial diameter: The moderating role of race in The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Health Psych. 2016 Apr; 35(4):313-21.

Thurston RC, Matthews KA, Chang Y, Santoro N, Barinas-Mitchell E, von Känel R, Landsittel DP, Jennings JR. Changes in heart rate variability during vasomotor symptoms among midlife women. Menopause. 2016 May; 23(5):499-505.

Rebecca C Thurston