Gia Merlo


Prof. Gia Merlo headshot

Gia Merlo

Clinical Professor, Nursing & Psychiatry
Senior Advisor on Wellness

1 212 998 5323

433 First Avenue
Room 436
New York, NY 10010
United States

Gia Merlo's additional information

Gia Merlo, MD, is a clinical professor in nursing and psychiatry and senior advisor on wellness at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. She is a triple board-certified physician in psychiatry, child, and adolescent psychiatry and lifestyle medicine. She is active on multiple national professional organizations, including serving as a board member of the Academy of Professionalism in Health Care (APHC). She served as the chair of the 2017 APHC Annual Meeting in Chicago. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Child Advocates of Houston, a nonprofit dedicated to lifesaving advocacy that helps abused and neglected children, and has served on various boards, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Alumni Board and the board of directors for Laurel House, a non-profit organization.

She maintains involvement and serves on multiple committees, including with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Texas Medical Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, Texas Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Harris County Medical Society, and Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians. She is a 2017-2019 Master Teacher Fellow at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. She is currently working on her first book on medical professionalism. 

Prior to joining faculty at NYU, Merlo was the associate dean of health professions at Rice University and founding director of the Medical Professionalism Program. At Rice University, she taught premedical students as well as conducted medical education research. She provided clinical supervision of the child and adolescent psychiatry fellows at Texas Children’s Hospital medical home located at Corinthian Pointe in Houston. In addition, she taught medical students, residents, and fellows at Baylor College of Medicine. She was the director for the Transition to Practice course for child psychiatry fellows and for adult psychiatry residents at the Baylor College of Medicine. She was also faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before transitioning to full-time private practice and leadership roles in community psychiatry in the Philadelphia area. 

Merlo earned her MD at Nagarjuna University and MBA at Temple University. She also completed a certificate in evidence-based teaching at Johns Hopkins University in 2018 and finished her training in child and adult psychiatry training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas, Texas. She is a fellow in the Master of Education degree program in health professions at Baylor College of Medicine.

MD - Nagarjuna University
MBA - Temple University

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American College of Lifestyle Medicine
Academy of Professionalism in Health Care
American Society for Bioethics and Humanities
Harris County Medical Society
Houston Academy of Medicine
National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions
Obesity Medicine Association
Southeastern Association of Advisors for the Health Professions
Texas Association of Advisors for the Health Professions
Texas Medical Association
Texas Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians

Faculty Honors Awards

Master Teacher Fellowship, Baylor College of Medicine (2019)
Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women, Houston Women’s Magazine (2018)
Favorite Professor Award, Rice University Scholar Athletes (2017)
Fellowship, American Psychoanalytic Association (1997)


MPRO: A Professionalism Curriculum to Enhance the Professional Identity Formation of University Premedical Students

Merlo, G., Ryu, H., Harris, T. B., & Coverdale, J. (2021). Medical Education Online, 26(1). 10.1080/10872981.2021.1886224
Limited opportunities exist for university premedical students to gain exposure to the realities of clinical practice through physician shadowing or through a formal curriculum. Medical Professionalism and Observership utilizes didactics, reflective writing, small- and large- group discussions, and clinical observerships to enhance the process of professional identity formation during a critical developmental window of late- adolescence. The pilot semester included a sample of 135 students, all in their sophomore, junior, or senior years of study at Rice University. Students were selected through an application process and paired with physicians at Houston Methodist Hospital based on specialty preference and availability. Students were required to participate in biweekly lectures and discussions and to submit a weekly reflection on topics discussed in the course and their shadowing experiences. Student evaluations were administered to survey changes in students’ knowledge and perceptions of the curriculum. Selected reflections were read for evidence of professional identity formation. Lectures increased students’ exposure to core competencies within the medical profession and influenced their desire to become physicians. Reflective writings demonstrated integration of these core competencies into the professional identity of students. Structured reflection and didactics, when coupled with physician shadowing, appear to promote integration of the values, beliefs, and attitudes of medical professionalism. Future studies should seek to demonstrate how such a curriculum affects professional identity formation through established measures, and to assess whether such a curriculum may influence students’ preparedness for medical training and practice as they progress along their careers.

Physician Burnout: A Lifestyle Medicine Perspective

Merlo, G., & Rippe, J. (2021). American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 15(2), 148-157. 10.1177/1559827620980420
Physician burnout, as described in North America, is a multidimensional work-related syndrome that includes emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a low sense of accomplishment from work. More than 50% of physicians were reporting symptoms of burnout prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This silent epidemic of burnout is bound to become less silent as the pandemic continues. Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based discipline that describes how daily habits and health practices can affect overall health and well-being of individuals. Lifestyle Medicine can potentially play a significant role in preventing and ameliorating physician burnout. This article explores the burnout process, including the historical context, international definitions, symptoms, and imprecision of the clinical diagnosis. The systemic etiological issues are discussed, and the psychological underpinnings are explored, including physicians’ personal vulnerabilities contributing to burnout. The stress response and lifestyle medicine’s role in healthy coping are described. A prevention model for risk factor reduction is proposed, focusing on primordial, primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Lifestyle medicine clinicians’ role in prevention, treatment, and advocacy to ameliorate the potential for burnout is discussed along with specific recommendations.

Laying an Early Foundation: Lifestyle Medicine Pre-Professional Education (LMPP) Member Interest Group

Merlo, G., Tollefson, M., Dacey, M., Lenz, T., Luchsinger, M., Muscato, D., & Frates, E. P. (2020). American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 14(5), 474-482. 10.1177/1559827620913272
Just as lifestyle medicine is the necessary foundation for true health care reform, lifestyle medicine competencies should be the foundation for health education. Although lifestyle medicine education may benefit a health professional at any stage in their education or career, evidence-based undergraduate lifestyle medicine education for future health professionals shifts the perspective of health and health care delivery. Educating health preprofessionals in associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and other preprofessional healthcare training programs is of paramount importance due to the interdisciplinary nature of lifestyle medicine. To accomplish this, American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) members can work collaboratively through committees, projects, and working groups—becoming leadership champions of change. An ACLM Pre-Professional Member Interest Group (LMPP) was created in 2018. LMPP has been working to build a national collaborative effort to amass, create, and distribute resources for educators in this pre-professional arena. Educating college students planning to become professionals outside the medical sphere, for example, lawyers, business people, artists, and engineers, will also benefit the field by introducing the power of nutrition, exercise, sleep, social connection, and stress resiliency during this formative state of career development. Pre-professional educational programs provide learners the opportunity to personally experience the power of lifestyle medicine.