Thank you to all of the generous sponsors of the Annual Community Luncheon. The Center for Women’s Health Research is extremely grateful to our individual, corporate, and foundation sponsors whose generous support funds the programs and research at the CWHR.
This year's luncheon was a tremendous success, and we enjoyed the company of Dr. Kerry Hildreth, one of the CWHR's Junior Faculty Researchers, as well as Dr. Larry Cahill, our keynote speaker. See below for a synopsis of their talks.
Keynote Speaker Dr. Larry Cahill
How Sex Differences Influence the Brain and
Body: An Issue Whose Time Has Come
Larry Cahill is a Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at
the University of California, Irvine.
first became interested in brain and memory as an undergraduate at
Northwestern University. After working for two years at Searle Drug Company
in Illinois on memory enhancing drugs, he earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience
from the University of California at Irvine in 1990, then conducted
post-doctoral research in Germany for 2 years. He returned to UC Irvine
to extend his research to studies of human subjects, and he uses
neuropharmacological, neuropsychological, and brain imaging approaches in
these studies. The Cahill laboratory’s work has led to discoveries about the profoundly important
issue of sex influences on emotional memory and on brain function.
Dr. Cahill is a long-standing leader in the area of brain and memory, and more recently
has become one of the most influential leaders on the topic of sex influences
on the brain. He is an internationally regarded, dynamic speaker, whose
work has been highlighted extensively in the press, including in the New York
Times, London Times, Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, PBS, and 60 Minutes.
Researcher Spotlight: Kerry Hildreth, MD
Vascular mechanisms for the effects of loss of ovarian hormone function on cognition in women
Kerry Hildreth, MD is a geriatrician who studies the effects of losing the female hormones (such as occurs after the menopause) on cognition in women. She is looking at ways to prevent dementia.
Dr. Hildreth’s research focuses on the relation between cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive impairment/dementia. It is well known that traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Women account for two-thirds of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. The female hormone estrogen is important for cardiovascular health; the loss of estrogen with menopause is associated with stiffer, less healthy blood vessels and an increase in cardiovascular risk factors, which may help explain some of the increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in women.
Estrogen is also important for brain health, and the loss of estrogen has been associated with problems in memory and thinking. Her research study is investigating whether the negative effects of the loss of estrogen on memory and thinking in women may be explained by changes in the health of blood vessels, and whether exercise can counteract these effects. To do this, she studies the blood vessels (using ultrasound) and brain function (using MRI) in healthy women nearing menopause who are receiving a medication to suppress their estrogen levels, or a placebo. Women receiving the medication are then further assigned to exercise training, or no exercise.
By comparing these three groups, she hopes to understand the role of vascular health in mediating the effects of estrogen on brain function. Findings from this research may help guide the development of new approaches to preventing cognitive decline and dementia in women.