Emily Jacobs

Professional Information


Instructor, Harvard Medical School
BIRCWH K12 Women's Health Scholar, Brigham and Women's Hospital


PhD Neuroscience, UC Berkeley, 2010



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Additional Information


My long-standing research interests include understanding sex specific vulnerabilities and resiliencies in disorders of aging. My work focuses on understanding the role that gonadal hormones play in shaping prefrontal cortex (PFC) function and top-down cognitive control mechanisms in early aging, a period in which women transition through menopause and sex differences in aging emerge. Further, I am exploring whether leukocyte telomere length offers an early marker of age-related neural deficits and dementia risk, and the extent to which telomere length captures sex-specific aging trajectories given the role of sex steroid hormones in telomere dynamics. Using convergent techniques from cognitive neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, and genetics and collaborating closely with basic animal researchers and clinicians will be critical for developing a comprehensive understanding and model of the role ovarian hormones play in shaping prefrontal cortex (PFC) function over the life-course.


I completed a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California,
Berkeley in 2010 under the mentorship of Dr. Mark DEsposito, with support from
a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Using a multi-tier
approach, including fMRI, molecular PET imaging, neuroendocrinology, genetics
and behavior, I investigated the way endogenous fluctuations in estradiol
during a woman's menstrual cycle alters dopaminergic signaling, in turn impacting
PFC function. I then pursued a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and
Society fellowship from 2010-2012. With Elissa Epel, Elizabeth Blackburn and
colleagues at UCSF we examined the impact of the APOE-e4 risk allele on neural and cellular aging (telomere attrition) in healthy, mid-life women and the parallel role of
hormone replacement therapy in buffering against telomere shortening. Now as junior
faculty at Harvard Medical School and a BIRCWH K12 Womens Health scholar under
the guidance of Dr. Jill Goldstein, I continue to investigate the role
of gonadal hormones in brain function, including the hormonal regulation of memory circuitry and fetal programming of the aging of
memory circuitry. Collaborators and co-mentors include Drs. Anne Klibanski
(endocrinology), Phil De Jager (aging genetics) and Jordan Smoller (psychiatric