The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Mélise Edwards


School or College: 

College of Natural Sciences


Dr. Agnès Lacreuse


Mélise Edwards is a first year PhD student in the Neuroscience and Behavior program in the College of Natural Sciences. Under the mentorship of her advisor, Dr. Agnès Lacreuse, her research explores changes in gene expression with age in a nonhuman primate. With an interest in age-related cognitive decline, she explores areas of the brain susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease. In doing so, she hopes to investigate genes which may be involved in neurodegenerative disease pathology. Mélise is also interested in the neuroprotective role sex hormones like estrogen may play in cognitive functioning.


The Role of Estrogen in Age-Related Cognitive Decline

Estrogen has been shown to have a number of beneficial effects on cognitive processes by acting in brain regions such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. These two areas of the brain support tasks involving memory and executive functioning and their interaction is essential for cognitive processes. Mélise’s research explores sex and age-related changes in estrogen gene expression by analyzing these brain regions. Her project seeks to understand the relationship between estradiol and cognitive performance in aging male and female animal models. Women have been shown to be disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and it has been suggested that the menopausal depletion of estrogens may be a risk factor, contributing to cognitive impairment. By understanding the relationship between estrogens, sex, age, and cognition, she hopes that pharmacological interventions can be designed to improve the quality of life for those affected.


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