What is your current role?
I am Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and OB/GYN, Senior Director of Research, Center for Research on Women & Gender, and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
What is the best part of your occupation?
I am immensely fortunate to be able to conduct research that informs the medical care and wellbeing of women, to work every day with talented and committed colleagues, to mentor the next generation of women’s health researchers, and to lead programs to diversify our academic workforce.
How did you become interested in Obstetrics and Gynecology?
As a PhD student, I was interested in addressing the considerable gap in knowledge about sex differences in the brain, particularly how sex hormones and menopause affect memory and Alzheimer’s disease. At that time, the epidemiological data pointed to hormone therapy as a possible effective intervention to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and yet very little was known about estrogen and brain functioning in women. As a postdoctoral student, I and my mentor, Susan Resnick, conducted the first neuroimaging study in women to identify what brain regions responded to estrogen-containing menopausal hormone therapy. The excitement of that discovery solidified my interest in this interdisciplinary line of research.
What would you like to see occur in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology during your career?
Broadly, I would like the field to consider menopause-related issues the same way they treat pregnancy-related issues. I would like to see greater recognition of the influence of menopause on mood and cognition in women, and to see funding for the clinical research necessary to help women optimize their brain health as they transition through menopause and into the postmenopausal stage. Lastly, I would like to see all newly minted OB/GYNS, and those trained in the last 20 years, get the training necessary to address menopause-related concerns of their patients.
What are your hobbies outside of the office?
I enjoy art museums, poetry, international travel, the outdoors, fitness, crossword puzzles and spending quality time with my family and friends.
What is something surprising that most people do not know about you?
They should ask me to play tennis with them because my poor play will do wonders for their self-esteem.