Dr. Karyn Frick received a five-year $1.8M R01 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for her research entitled, “Mechanisms underlying memory regulation by 17beta-estradiol, Wnt/beta-catenin signaling, and BDNF in male and female mice.” The long-term goal of Dr. Frick’s research is to pinpoint the neural mechanisms through which estrogens regulate hippocampal memory formation. The overall objective of this application is to determine the extent to which Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and the neurotrophin brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) contribute to the memory enhancing effects of the potent estrogen 17beta-estradiol. This project is expected to provide essential foundational knowledge about estrogenic regulation of memory formation that will advance our understanding of the etiology of, and further new treatments for, memory dysfunction in men and women. As such, this research will provide sorely needed insights about estrogenic regulation of memory formation in both sexes that could lead to the generation of novel therapies specifically tailored to reduce memory dysfunction in patients of each sex.
Memory impairments are characteristic of many neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, yet the development of effective treatments to reduce these impairments is hampered by our relatively rudimentary knowledge about the neural mechanisms through which memories are formed in males and females. Thus, Dr. Frick’s new grant will fundamentally advance our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying memory formation in males and females.