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Society for Women’s Health Research Awards Third Annual Prize for Scientific Contributions to Women’s Health

Recipient Is a Leading Researcher on the Effects of Aging and Hormones on Memory

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 30, 2008) — Karyn Frick, Ph.D., an associate professor of behavioral neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., has been awarded the third annual Society for Women’s Health Research Medtronic Prize for Scientific Contributions to Women’s Health for her work in the field of sex differences research and women’s health. Frick received $75,000 and an award statue at the Society for Women's Health Research’s annual gala dinner on April 28.

The prize was established to recognize a women scientist or engineer for her contributions to women’s health and encourage women to work on issues uniquely related to women’s health. To be considered, each nominee must be in the middle of her career, have devoted a significant part of her work to this area, and served as a role model and mentor for both colleagues and students.

Frick studies the ways in which aging and hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, modulate learning and memory. Aging is characterized by deterioration in several types of learning and memory, and the onset of this decline coincides with menopause in many women. Menopause is also associated with a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease in women compared to men; however, recent clinical trials in women with and without Alzheimer’s suggest that hormone replacement does not reduce memory impairments. 

Frick’s work is designed to understand how hormones influence memory with a goal of developing better treatments to reduce age-related memory decline. Frick is the first to identify a specific molecule in the brain through which estrogen modulates memory and she is currently studying how this mechanism functions in the aging female brain.

The ultimate goal of Frick’s research program is to elucidate the molecules in the brain through which hormones such as estrogen and progesterone alter memory formation. Once identified, these molecules would be attractive targets for the development of drugs that mimic the beneficial effects of hormones on cognition without the side effects common to hormone use. Such drugs could significantly enhance the quality of life for older women with and without dementia.

Frick also holds appointments in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program and Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Yale. She earned her undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College, where she majored in biology and psychology, and her Ph.D. in biopsychology from The Johns Hopkins University. She received postdoctoral training at Wellesley College in Massachusetts before joining the faculty at Yale in 2000. 

The prize winner is annually selected by an award jury of science professionals chosen by the Society for Women’s Health Research, a Washington, D.C., based advocacy organization working to improve the health of all women through research, education and advocacy. The prize is supported by Medtronic, Inc., a world leader in medical technology providing lifelong solutions for people with chronic disease.  Medtronic has committed to support the prize through 2013.


For more information on the Society for Women’s Health Research, the prize or Dr. Frick, contact Karen Young, media relations coordinator, at 202-496-5001 or karen@womenshealthresearch.org.


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