Banting Foundation Award for psychology professor

By Costa Maragos Posted: July 21, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Dr. Jennifer Gordon is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology.
Dr. Jennifer Gordon is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. Photo courtesy Debrah Marshall - Sask. Health Research Foundation.

Dr. Jennifer Gordon, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, has received a big boost for her research.

Gordon is the recipient of the Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award for $25,000.

The funds will support Gordon’s research project on depression and hormones in perimenopausal women.

“I was surprised but happy to receive this support from the Banting Research Foundation,” says Gordon. “My research aims to improve our understanding of depression in the menopause transition, also known as perimenopausal depression, so that we will eventually be able to develop effective treatments for it.”

The Foundation annually awards the Discovery Award to “outstanding new investigators in any area of health and biomedical research.” This “seed funding” is also intended for recipients to gather pilot data that will improve their odds of receiving further funding from other sources.

The Banting award builds on funding Gordon has already received from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.

“Some of my preliminary research suggests that dysregulation of the HPA axis, which is the system that controls how we humans respond to stress, contributes to the development of depression in the menopause transition,” says Gordon. “This award will allow me to more directly test whether this is the case.”

The menopause transition, says Gordon, refers to the years leading up to menopause.

“This menopause transition is associated with an increased risk of depression. In fact, 25 to 33 per cent of women experience clinically significant depressive symptoms at some point during the menopause transition. My research aims to understand why the risk for depression increases during this time,” says Gordon.

Some of Gordon’s research suggests that increased estrogen fluctuation in the menopause transition causes women to be more sensitive to stress, potentially by dysregulating the HPA axis.

“As a result, women are more vulnerable to developing depressive symptoms when they encounter a stressful life event, such as divorce or the death of a loved one.”

Gordon has been with the Psychology Department at the U of R since 2015.

She obtained her PhD in Clinical Psychology at McGill University and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in women’s reproductive mood disorders at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill in the Department of Psychiatry.

If you are interested in taking part in this research please visit here.

The Banting Research Foundation is a registered charity that funds health and biomedical research in Canada. Its mission is to invest in the early careers of researchers who demonstrate excellence and creativity in health and biomedical sciences.