Elisa Guma and Simon Steinkamp
Continuing our OHBM2023 keynote interview series
Dr. Emily Jacobs is an Associate Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences and the director of the Ann S. Bowers Women’s Health Initiative at University of California, Santa Barbara. She received her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, and her BA in Neuroscience from Smith College. Prior to UCSB, she was an instructor at Harvard Medical School and at the Department of Medicine/Division of Women’s Health at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.
In this interview, we discuss the pioneering work of Dr. Jacobs and her group in leveraging brain imaging, computation, and endocrine approaches to deepen our understanding of the influence of sex hormones on the central nervous system across spatial and temporal scales. Her group uses structural and functional neuroimaging methods to explore how the brain changes in response to endogenous hormonal changes, such as across the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause, as well as to exogenous hormones via oral hormonal contraceptives. Through the Ann S. Bowers Women’s Health Initiative, Dr. Jacobs and her group are working towards creating a population-level brain imaging dataset to advance our understanding of women’s brain health across the lifespan.
Dr. Jacobs also shares her journey into neuroscience research, her thoughts on how science can inform public policy, and talks about her groups’ efforts to improve girls’ representation in STEM by partnering with K-12 groups. This work was featured in the book STEMinists: The Lifework of 12 Women Scientists and Engineers.
At OHBM 2023, Dr. Jacobs will highlight the power of sex steroid hormones and the role that they play in shaping the brain over multiple timescales, drawing attention to some of the reasons why it has taken the field so long to focus on women’s brain health.
You can find the video interview here and listen to the audio-only podcast version here (or on your podcast app of choice).