The People

Prosper is led by a world-class group of scientific advisors including;

Matteo Pellegrini, Ph.D., Co-founder – Bioinformatics, epigenetics and aging - Dr. Pellegrini is a Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCLA. His research is focused on the development of DNA methylation-based biomarkers to monitor human health. Dr. Pellegrini earned his B.A. in Physics at Columbia University and his Ph.D. in Physics at Stanford. He was a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, where he worked on computational biology. 

Brett Dolezal, Ph.D. – Exercise physiology and compliance - As an Adjunct Professor at UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Dolezal’s expertise and experience lies within the field of applied exercise physiology and its application in the Digital Health arena as it relates to exercise program design, implementation and training.  Specifically, his focus has been on the development, deployment and monitoring of wearable physiological status monitors in populations ranging from athletic to healthy to clinically vulnerable.  As a PI on many industry and NIH-funded projects, he has led his lab team in exercise training studies leveraging digital health technology to spur a paradigm shift in the health care system from a reactive, sickness-treatment model towards a preventative, patient-centered approach that motivates and empowers patients to become more physically active.  Dr. Dolezal received his Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology at the University of Kansas. 

Kurt Hong, M.D., Ph.D., FACN – Clinical nutrition - Dr. Kurt Hong is the Executive Director of the Center for Clinical Nutrition and Applied Health Research at USC Keck School of Medicine. He is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the USC School of Medicine and holds joint appointment at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Dr. Hong received his medical degree with research distinct from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of California, Los Angeles.  Dr. Hong has been involved in obesity and metabolic disease research over the past 20 years.  His research interests include the study of macro and micronutrients affecting energy metabolism, weight status and related complications, including metabolic syndrome. Dr. Hong is an investigator on NIH-funded studies and has served on multiple editorial boards and national organization committees – including the Obesity Society, Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the American Society for Nutrition. He is dual board-certified in internal medicine and clinical nutrition. 

Michael Irwin, M.D. – Stress responses and neuroimmunology – Dr. Irwin is one of the world’s foremost experts on the psychoneuroimmunological pathways by which psychosocial and behavioral factors influence health and disease.  He is the Norman Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, Director of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the UCLA Semel Institute, Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the UCLA Semel Institute, and Director of the Center’s Inflammatory Biology Core. Dr. Irwin pioneered basic studies to show that activation of receptor dependent mechanisms in the brain (e.g., corticotropin releasing hormone) play a key role in the integration of the HPA, autonomic, and immune responses to stress.  His clinical translational studies were among the first to demonstrate that beta-adrenergic receptor mechanisms steered a reduction in anti-viral immunity and an increase inflammatory responses, and the role of these molecular pathways on infectious- and inflammatory disease pathogenesis in older adults, and in patients with depression, insomnia, cardiovascular disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and alcohol- and cocaine use disorders. His ongoing work is focused on the reciprocal interactions between the immune- and central nervous systems, and the role of sleep disturbance on the molecular and cellular inflammatory signaling pathways that influence depression- and physical health risk with a focus on cancer survivors and older adults.  Dr. Irwin’s research has broadly integrated data from laboratory animal studies, epidemiological studies, clinical naturalistic history- and prospective studies, experimental studies, and randomized controlled trials that have employed both behavioral- and mind-body approaches.  Together, his research has been supported continuously for over 25 years by his PI leadership of over 25 R01 type awards from the National Institute of Aging, National Cancer Institute, National Heart Lung and Blood Disorders Institute, National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders, National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and the National Institute of Mental Health. 

Aldons Jake Lusis, Ph.D. – Mammalian genetics – Dr. Lusis is a Professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Medicine at UCLA with a secondary appointment in the Department of Human Genetics.  His research focuses on cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, using population-based approaches in both animal models and humans.  He is particularly interested in complex interactions, such as gene-by-gene, gene-by-environment, and gene-by-gender interactions.  He has served on advisory panels for the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and various private companies and organizations. Presently, he serves on the Board of Scientific Counselors, NHLBI. Among his awards are the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Research, the American Heart Association Duff Award, and the NAVBO Benditt Award.  He received his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Oregon State University.  He was a postdoctoral fellow with Kenneth Paigen in the Molecular Biology Department, Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Buffalo, NY 

Janet Tomiyama, Ph.D. – Psychology of dieting and stress - Dr. Tomiyama is the Director of the Dieting, Stress and Health (DiSH) laboratory at UCLA and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research centers on eating, dieting, stress, and weight stigma.  She is one of the leading researchers demonstrating the flaws of BMI as an indicator of health, and a major research theme is the potentially negative psychological and biological consequences of dieting versus living a healthy, active, happy lifestyle.  She is the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.  She received her B.A. in Psychology in 2001 from Cornell University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology with concentrations in Health and Quantitative Psychology in 2009 from the University of California, Los Angeles.  She was also a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar, jointly appointed at UCSF and UC Berkeley.

Stephen G. Young, M.D. — Medical genetics and molecular biology — Dr. Young is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics at UCLA.  Dr. Young is an expert in defining the functional relevance of specific genes in lipid metabolism and atherogenesis. Currently, his laboratory studies an endothelial cell protein (GPIHBP1) required for plasma triglyceride metabolism as well as diseases of the nuclear envelope. He obtained his undergraduate degree (A.B.) from Princeton University and his M.D. degree from Washington University in St. Louis. Following medical school, he completed internal medicine training at UCSF and cardiology training at UCSD.  Dr. Young is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. He completed postdoctoral research training in lipid metabolism with Dr. Joseph Witztum at UCSD and then worked for 17 years at the Gladstone Institute for Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco.  Dr. Young has received multiple awards and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.