Postdoctoral Fellow & Scientific Associate –University of Toronto, Psychology/Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Health Sciences
Postdoctoral Research Associate –University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Psychological and Brain Science
PhD Psychology – Concordia University
Role in MouseTRAP: Research Project Manager
Description of Research Projects:
My research takes a translational and sex-based approach to delineate the contribution of neuromodulators of memory. Females are under-represented in neuroscience research and despite several brain diseases having known sex differences, limited attention has been given to the contribution of biological sex to disease pathology and their treatments. This is unfortunate as the medical field has identified many examples where symptomatology for diseases outside of the brain are different in males and females, as are treatment responses. There is emerging evidence that this is also true for brain diseases. Thus, a major focus of my research has been on identifying modulators of cognition in females, and whether these factors contribute to increased susceptibility of females to memory disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. My work has shown that memory and medial temporal lobe structure is altered by ovarian removal in humans, marmosets, and rats, and that estradiol loss contributes at least partially to these effects. These reproducible effects can be attributed to important effects of estradiol in the medial temporal lobe. Beyond cognition, ovarian hormones also contribute to other factors known to promote cognition, including sleep and circadian function, which are altered by aging, albeit differently between males and females. Women experience more sleep disturbance than men and are also at higher risk for certain sleep conditions including insomnia, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. This increased risk is amplified in peri/postmenopause and often occurs in conjunction with memory complaints. My research also aims to identify the mechanisms underlying the connection between these menopausal symptoms and whether interventions targeting sleep improve cognition and brain health of females.