Emily Jacobs, PhD
Emily C. Jacobs, PhD


Imagine a collection of scientists who spend their life’s work searching indefatigably for the key to some great mystery. And imagine that the tool they use to chip away at the mystery is itself chipped, restricting its power by half. Say, a microscope whose left lens is clouded. Arguably, the science would be slowed, or at worst flawed.

Why, then, do we accept this practice within the biological sciences, where the majority of basic research uses only males of a species (Beery and Zucker, Nature 2010)? As a recent Institute of Medicine reporti illustrates, basic and medical science research has historically ignored the health needs of women. The limitations of this research tradition strike at two levels: by studying one sex the science is incomplete and the health needs of women are overlooked.

In graduate school, Emily began her investigation of the impact of ovarian hormones on prefrontal cortical function in humans. Using fMRI, PET and pharmacogenomics methods she examined the way endogenous hormone fluctuations over a woman’s menstrual cycle modulate neurochemical circuits, in turn shaping cognitive processes.

With the support of RWJ, Emily continues to clarify the impact of ovarian hormones on brain morphology and behavior, with the purpose of understanding the extent to which neuroactive hormones are relevant to observable sex differences in neurological disorders at the population level. Ovarian hormones are neuroactive, with estrogen receptor expression evident throughout the frontal lobe, yet few human studies have examined the behavioral and health-related consequences of this relationship within a model of brain circuitry and function. Emily and colleagues plan to probe this line of research on two levels, pairing large-scale exploratory analyses with controlled experiments of ovarian hormones.

Emily received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College in 2004 where she majored in Neuroscience and her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley. Emily grew up in southern Illinois. Outside of lab she’s either reading Martha Nussbaum, growing bromeliads or traipsing through the little towns that dot the California coast.


(To those with a modicum of time, Emily encourages you toward this site: )

2010, PhD, Neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley
2004, Visiting Undergraduate Scholar, Concentration: Mind-Brain-Behavior, Harvard University
2004, BA, Neuroscience, Smith College


UCSF Center for Health and Community
UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Society for Neuroscience
Cognitive Neuroscience Society
Sigma Xi, Research Society
Phi Beta Kappa, Research Society


Jacobs E, D’Esposito M. (in press) Estrogen shapes dopamine-dependent cognitive function: Implications for women’s health. Journal of Neuroscience.

Cools R, Sheridan M, Jacobs E, D'Esposito M (2007). Impulsive personality predicts dopaminedependent changes in frontostriatal activity during component processes of working memory. Journal of Neuroscience 27(20):5506–5514

Wraga M, Helt M, Jacobs E, & Sullivan K. (2007). Neural basis of stereotype-induced shifts in
women’s mental rotation performance. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience 2(1):12-19

Wraga M, Duncan L, Jacobs E, Helt M, & Church J. (2006). Stereotype susceptibility narrows the
gender gap in imagined self-rotation performance. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 13 (5):813-9

PubMed Link
Please note that PubMed searches may display results referencing
different authors with identical names.

Center for Health and Community
University of California at San Francisco
3333 California, Suite 465
Campus Box 0844
San Francisco, CA 94143-0844

Phone: 415-601-2992
Fax: 415-502-1010

[back to top]

[back to SCHOLARS]