Epigenetics: Change your Genes, Change your Life

Ken Pelletier_Epigenetics

Kenneth R. Pelletier, PhD, MD

Clinical Professor of Medicine and Director of the Corporate Health Improvement Program (CHIP) at UCSF


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Genetics does not define our destiny. Genes may indicate susceptibilities to certain diseases or health and longevity but these predispositions are governed by a complex interaction that is like a rheostat which turns the genes up or down in terms of expression. There is a common misconception that genes govern our state of health or illness. This is propagated by the daily barrage of companies promising to “predict” your vulnerabilities but these are all statistical projections not an absolute fate. By contrast, there is the science of healthy biomarkers. Such an approach is the “Holy Grail” of such influences in the form of a tri-partite assay of genetic, blood (CBC), and biomic (gastrointestinal tract) measures that can provide us with a definitive personal profile of who we are and what is likely to have a positive or negative impact on our health. Increasingly, the new science of “epigenetics” (or “above the genes”) indicates that we exert a profound influence over which of our genes will be turned on (expressed) or turned off (suppressed) through our daily, ongoing diet, stress, pharmacy use, as well as our psychosocial, and physical environment. To paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault lies not in our genes but in ourselves.

Presenter Bio

Kenneth R. Pelletier, PhD, MD is a Clinical Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine; Department of Family and Community Medicine; and Department of Psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine (UCSF) in San Francisco. At UCSF Med, he is Director of the Corporate Health Improvement Program (CHIP) which is a collaborative research program between CHIP and 15 of the Fortune 500 corporations including Ford, Oracle, Prudential, Dow, Lockheed Martin, NASA, Pepsico, IBM, Cummins, Steelcase, and the Mayo Clinic. He also serves as Chairman of the American Health Association (AHA) and is a Vice President with American Specialty Health (ASH).

Prior to these positions, from 2001 to 2016, Dr. Pelletier served as Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, the Department of Family and Community Medicine, as well as a Professor of Public Health, at the University of Arizona School of Medicine. From 1990 through 2001, Dr. Pelletier was a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine; was Director of the Stanford Corporate Health Improvement Program (SCHIP); and, Director of the NIH funded Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program at Stanford (CAMPS). From 1974 until joining the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1990, Dr. Pelletier held a dual appointment as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine and in the Department of Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine (UCSF) in San Francisco. In addition to his faculty positions, Dr. Pelletier has served as a member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the California Wellness Foundation, Foundation Health Systems (FHS), Health Systems International (HSI), and the Social Venture Network. He was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, studied at the CG Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland and has published over 300 professional journal articles in behavioral medicine, disease management, worksite interventions, alternative/integrative medicine, and epigenetics.

At the present time, Dr. Pelletier is a medical and business consultant to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Business Group on Health, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and major corporations including Cisco, IBM, American Airlines, Prudential, Dow, Disney, Ford, Mercer, Merck, Pepsico, Ford, Pfizer, Walgreens, NASA, Microsoft ENCARTA, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Health Net, the Pasteur Institute of Lille, France, the Alpha Group of Mexico, and the Singapore Ministry of Health. He also serves on the boards of the Rancho la Puerta (Mexico), Fries Foundation, American Institute of Stress (AIS), American Journal of Health Promotion (AJHP), as a Founding Board Member of the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM), and as a peer reviewer for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), Annals of Internal Medicine, Health Affairs, and webMD.

Dr. Pelletier is listed in Who’s Who in America and in Who’s Who in the World. His research, clinical practice, and publications have been the subject of numerous national television programs including several appearances on the ABC World News, the Today program, Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, 48 Hours, the McNeil-Lehrer Newshour, CNN, FOX News, CBS Sunday Morning, Hour Magazine, the Time/Life video series, the award winning BBC series The Long Search, and the five-part Blue Cross/Blue Shield sponsored PBS series Healthy People, Healthy Business.

Dr. Pelletier is the author of thirteen (13) major books including the international bestseller Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer (New York: Delacorte and Delta, 1977; Revised in 1992); Holistic Medicine: From Stress to Optimum Health (New York: Delacorte and Delta, 1981; Revised in 1991); Healthy People in Unhealthy Places; Stress and Fitness at Work (New York: Delacorte, Delta, and Doubleday, 1984); Sound Mind – Sound Body: A New Model for Lifelong Health (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995); The Best Alternative Medicine: What Works? What Does Not? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000); Stress Free for Good: Ten Scientifically Proven Life Skills for Health and Happiness (New York: Harper Collins, 2005); New Medicine: How to Integrate Conventional and Alternative Medicine for the Safest and Most Effective Treatment (London & New York: Penguin – Dorling Kindersley, 2007); and Change Your Genes – Change Your Life: Creating Optimal Health Through the New Science of Epigenetics (San Rafael: Origin Press, 2018).