Dr. Bigatti graduated from the Joint Program in Clinical Psychology between University of California San Diego and San Diego State University. Her degree is in Clinical Psychology with a Behavioral Medicine specialization. She completed her clinical internship at Yale University School of Medicine. Since obtaining her degree, Dr. Bigatti has been an academician and researcher, with over 48 peer-reviewed publications and well over 150 research presentations at local, national, and international scientific conferences. She has received both internal and external funding for her research endeavors.

Dr. Bigatti’s current research portfolio centers on health disparities. She examines the distinct psychological stress experienced by different populations and its negative physical and mental health outcomes. In studies focused on investigating health disparities in Indianapolis communities, she uses a Community Based Participatory Research framework. Her intervention research has focused on psychosocial interventions for fibromyalgia syndrome, advanced cancer, and adolescent resiliency training. Below are descriptions of her current research projects.

Dr. Bigatti has won numerous teaching awards and is a member of IU’s Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET), dedicated to quality teaching for all students. Her scholarship of teaching focuses on improving the learning experience for students through course engagement, inclusive teaching, or understanding and improving the experiences of international students

In an effort to reduce this time commitment and burden for researchers to connect to community partners. Dr. Bigatti started with other collaborators on campus the Latinx Community University Research Coalition of Indiana. The mission of the coalition is to connect university researchers with community organizations to address equity and well-being for Latinos across the state of Indiana, through community-engaged research efforts. The conference was featured in the local Spanish Media ( 

Ongoing Research Projects

African American Women’s Experiences with Breast Cancer Treatment – Community Engaged
African Americans are more likely to die from breast cancer than all other groups, a disparity that in Indiana translates into a 42% higher likelihood of mortality. In this ongoing three-year study, Dr. Bigatti is assessing participants weekly throughout their cancer treatment to identify the points at which problems occur and what experiences specifically surround them. Upon completion of this study, Dr. Bigatti will work with community groups to create interventions that can be administered by community-serving organizations.

Cumulative Disadvantage – Team Science
Disadvantage experienced throughout one’s lifetime (poverty, trauma, violence, loss, for example) adds up, and is a heavy burden to carry, impacting all future experiences and limiting one’s odds of reaching desired goals. This is known as cumulative disadvantage (CD). Dr. Bigatti is trying to determine whether it is possible to measure this burden objectively and comprehensively as the leader of a team of scientists at IUPUI. Their goal is to develop, test and validate a measure of cumulative disadvantage. The team, with members from Public Health, Sociology, Oncology, and Microbiology, has used a variety of methodologies to develop a preliminary instrument of CD that is being tested for reliability and validated with telomere length and mitochondrial DNA. The team science approach of this study is leading to important questions that could not have been foreseen at the beginning. For example, the behavioral scientists aim to determine to what degree actual experiences versus perceptions of disadvantage are associated with health outcomes measured physiologically. Among the bench scientists, the study has resulted in an interest in clarifying telomere length differences by race. The implications of this line of research are many and varied. We are especially interested in the policy implications for early childhood and young family support at the state and federal level

Your Life, Your Story. Latino Youth Summit (YLYS) – Community Based Participatory Research
In Indiana, Latino youth fare the worst in terms of depression and suicide. In collaboration with the Latino Health Organization, a community serving non-profit interested in addressing this problem, Dr. Bigatti created a resilience-building and identity development intervention, in the form of an arts-based summer camp.

 YLYS is an impressive undertaking, with high impact at various levels. ( is interdisciplinary team science that brings together researchers from various units on campus as well as local professional artists and therapists. The program has run for the last four years with contributions from various organizations around Indianapolis, and significant investment from IUPUI in the form of funding of undergraduate students who serve as mentors.

 YLYS has increased resilience and decreased depressive symptoms in participants, improvements maintained long-term. YLYS has been highlighted by various IUPUI publications and in a WFYI piece (

 YLYS has led to additional projects for Dr. Bigatti, including a program for mothers, Mama Sana Mente Sana, and a program for girls, the Young Latina Project. With a new community partner, The Learning Tree, Dr. Bigatti adapted the YLYS curriculum for African American youth to be taught by neighborhood artists, the Sawubona Story Lab. An adaptation of YLYS in partnership with the IU Public Policy Institute and the Immigrant Welcome Center focuses on refugee youth populations, the Rhyme project.

Selected Publications

  1. Conrad, K.K., Bigatti, S.M., Diaz, V., Medina, M.A., Mirabal, M., Weathers, T.D. (2016). Your Life.Your Story.Latino Youth Summit: Building Latino Adolescent Resilience through a Successful Community-Academic Partnership. In Littleford & Alexander (Eds.). Diversity Research Symposium Journal 2014: From Research to Action.
  2. Gesselman, A.N., Bigatti, S.M., Garcia, J.R., Coe, K., Cella, D., & Champion, V.L. (2016). Spirituality, emotional distress, and post-traumatic growth in breast cancer survivors and their partners: An actor-partner interdependence modeling approach. Psycho-Oncology. DOI: 10.1002/pon.4192
  3. Wagner, C.D., Johns, S., Brown, L., Hanna, N., & Bigatti, S.M. (2016). Acceptability and feasibility of a meaning-based intervention for advanced cancer patients and their spouses: A pilot study. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 33(6), 546-554. PMID: 25753182.
  4. Steiner, J.L., Bigatti, S.M., & Ang, D.C. (2015). Trajectory of change in pain, depression, and physical functioning after physical activity adoption in fibromyalgia. Journal of Health Psychology. DOI: 10.1177/1359105313504234; PMID: 24165860.
  5. Steiner, J.L., Wagner, C.D., Bigatti, S.M., & Storniolo, A.M. (2014). Depressive rumination and cognitive processes associated with depression in breast cancer patients and their spouses. Families, Systems, and Health, 32(4), 378. DOI: 10.1037/fsh0000066; PMCID: PMC4260982
  6. Bigatti, S.M., Steiner, J.L., & Miller, K.D. (2012). Cognitive appraisals, coping and depressive symptoms in breast cancer patients. Stress and Health, 28(5), 355-361. DOI: 10.1002/smi.2444; PMCID: PMC4105002.
  7. Bigatti, S.M., Steiner, J.L., Makinabakan, N. Hernandez, A.M., Johnston, E., & Storniolo, A.M. (2011). Matched and mismatched appraisals in patients with breast cancer and their partners: Implications for psychological distress. Psycho-Oncology, 21(11), 1229-1236. PMID:21882286 DOI: 10.1002/pon.2028
  8. Bigatti, S.M., Wagner, C.D., Lydon-Lam, J.R., Steiner, J.L., & Miller, K.D. (2011). Depression in husbands of breast cancer patients: Relationship to coping and social support. Supportive Cancer Care, 19(4), 455-466. PMID:20217149 DOI: 10.1007/s00520-010-0835-8
  9. Bigatti, S.M., Brown, L.F., Steiner, J.L. & Miller, K.D. (2011). Breast cancer in a wife: How husbands cope and how well it works. Cancer Nursing, 34(3), 193-201. PMID:21522059 DOI: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181ef094c
  10. Bigatti, S.M., Hernandez, A.M., Cronan, T.A., & Rand, K.L. (2008). Sleep disturbances in fibromyalgia: Relations to pain and depression. Arthritis Care and Research, 59(7), 961-967. PMID: 18576297 DOI 10.1002/art.23828