Kennesaw State University’s Ebony Glover, an associate professor of neuroscience, received a $406,300 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to gain a more comprehensive picture of sex-linked biomarkers for PTSD, which can lead to potential treatments that are more customized for this high-risk population.
The grant is allotted for the next three years.
“Finding effective preventative measures and treatments for PTSD in women is a national mental health priority,” Glover said. “Since sex differences in PTSD prevalence remain after controlling for many environmental factors, such as the type and degree of trauma exposure, there is a clear need to understand the biological mechanisms associated with increased female susceptibility in PTSD.”
A graduate of Spelman College, Glover received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior from Emory University.
She completed a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) Postdoctoral Fellowship and received an NIH Postdoctoral Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA).
As apart of the study, Glover seeks to clarify how ovarian hormones such as estradiol and progesterone influence fear-conditioning processes in women.
Estradiol, a major growth hormone of the female reproductive system, has been shown to elevate PTSD risk in women through its effects regulating the body’s fear circuitry.
And according to Glover, there are notable inconsistencies in the literature when studying these interactions as related to specific fear learning and memory mechanisms and nonspecific fear and anxiety.
She also noted that there are even fewer studies focused on the effects hormonal contraceptives have on fear and anxiety
“The limited evidence base for sex-specific pharmacotherapy of PTSD is a major obstacle to the effective treatment of this disorder,” Glover said. “Our research contributions could offer critical insight into clinical practices that take into account women’s reproductive cycle and ovarian hormone levels when applying therapies.”
85 percent of women in the United States will use those synthetic hormones at some point in their lives.