Team Bios


Dr. Eli Puterman

Dr. Eli Puterman, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has been the Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Health since 2015 and was named a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar in 2016. Dr. Puterman’s research program has focused on non-biological processes, including psychosocial and behavioural factors, that impact mental, physical and cellular health, with the goal of revealing new insights into our understanding and treatments of disease and mortality.

Using observational and experimental designs, Dr. Puterman’s research program tackles fundamental questions to advance our understanding of physical activity as a potent treatment for vulnerable children and adults. His research program: (1) develops and tests intervention strategies that are tailored to human needs and preferences of vulnerable individuals and groups and that maximize acceptance, uptake, and maintenance, and (2) examines the effects of these treatment strategies on physical and biological health markers, as well as mental and social well-being. For example, Dr. Puterman demonstrated that previously inactive family caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s disease who were recruited to participate in a randomized aerobic exercise trial had significantly lengthened immune cells’ average telomere lengths if randomized to the 24-week exercise program compared to the waitlist control. Caregivers who became physically active also improved in their cardiorespiratory fitness, body mass index (BMI), and mental health. This was the first study to demonstrate lengthening of telomeres in response to an exercise intervention in previously inactive individuals.

His research has been published in leading journals in his field, including JAMA Pediatrics, Molecular Psychiatry and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. His research is internationally recognized, having received several prestigious awards that include the Curt Richter Award from the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (2018), the Neal Miller Award from Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research (2015) and the Early Career Investigator Award from the Society of Behavioral Medicine (2014). In 2019, he was appointed a member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Puterman started his appointment at UBC with PI funding from the U.S. National Institute of Health and Alzheimer’s Association. While at UBC, he has received, as PI, Canadian Tri-Council funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Puterman’s newest project is titled, The Positively Dance Pilot Program, a free and easily accessible peer-research-led 24-week aerobic dance program for women living with HIV (WLWH), designed to assess its feasibility and acceptability, and explore the effects of aerobic dance on immune cellular health markers, traditional health markers, and psychological and social well-being. The project deepens his commitment to engage with vulnerable populations by co-designing projects with community members and the organizations that serve them – in the spirit of UBC’s Equity and Inclusion Office motto, “Listen, Change, Do More.” Dr. Puterman is excited to bring this passion and lens to his role as one of the Scientific Advisors of the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation.