Mélise Edwards, 2nd year student in the Lacreuse lab (co-advised by Courtney Babbitt), received a prestigious Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, which will support 3 years of her PhD research. This competitive fellowship, funded through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, supports individuals “who can demonstrate superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students”.
Her research will compare gene expression in specific brain regions in marmosets treated with an aromatase inhibitor (Letrozole) compared to marmosets treated with a placebo. Aromatase inhibitors are commonly administered to women with estrogen-responsive breast cancers because they suppress estrogen synthesis. Unfortunately, they are also associated with cognitive dysfunction, sleep disturbances and mood disorders and little is known about the underlying mechanisms.
Mélise will identify sets of genes differentially regulated by aromatase inhibition in specific brain areas, which will guide her further research efforts on identifying specific pathways altered by aromatase inhibition. This work has the potential to uncover new mechanisms by which estrogens synthesized in the brain affect brain function, which have far-reaching implications for women’s health across the lifespan.
Besides her research endeavors, Mélise is dedicated to being a positive role model and promoting STEM fields for people of diverse backgrounds. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership in mentoring, as reflected by her online mentorship website M.U.S.E. We are delighted that the Ford Fellowship recognized her excellence in research and mentoring and her potential as a future scholar. Congratulations, Mélise!