About Us

Rebecca Thurston

Rebecca Thurston, PhD

Director

Dr. Rebecca Thurston is Pittsburgh Foundation Chair of Women’s Health and Dementia, Professor of Psychiatry, and Director of the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds additional appointments in the Departments of Psychology and Epidemiology and at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Dr. Thurston received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, her PhD from Duke University, and was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Harvard University. Dr. Thurston is the Principal Investigator of several National Institutes of Health research studies focused on midlife women’s reproductive, cardiovascular, and neurocognitive health. Dr. Thurston is recipient of the International Menopause Society’s Henry Burger Prize, the North American Menopause Society’s Vasomotor Symptoms Research Award, and is an elected fellow of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. Dr. Thurston is a Trustee of and Immediate Past President of the North American Menopause Society.

Yuefang Chang

Yue-Fang Chang, PhD

Research Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Yue-Fang Chang, Ph.D, is a research associate professor at the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh. She holds a doctoral degree in statistics and a master degree in epidemiology. She has worked in a variety of areas, such as women’s health, diabetes, health outcome, image study and injury epidemiology. In addition to the MSHeart study, she also serves as the statistician in several epidemiological studies including Cardiovascular Health Study, Women’s Health Initiative and Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation.

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

Karen Jakubowski, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

email: jakubowskik@upmc.edu

Dr. Jakubowski received her PhD in Clinical-Health Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently a postdoctoral trainee in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, working with Dr. Thurston on her studies of midlife women’s cardiovascular health. Dr. Jakubowski’s research focuses on understanding how stress and trauma, including adverse childhood experiences and intimate partner violence, impact women’s sleep and cardiovascular health.

Holly Thomas

Holly Thomas, MD, MS

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Dr. Thomas seeks to conduct innovative, interdisciplinary, patient-centered clinical research that will improve the health and quality of life of women as they age. In particular, she is interested in understanding the physical and psychosocial factors that contribute to sexual dysfunction in midlife and older women. She uses this understanding to develop behavioral treatment options to improve the sexual health of midlife women.

Diana Buck

Eresha Bluth, MHA

Program Coordinator

Eresha Bluth joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory in August 2020. She received her BSc in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and her MHA from the University of Southern California. She has over 10 years of research administration experience.

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

Monica Winkelman, BA

Program Coordinator Sr.

Monica Winkelman joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory in August 2021. She received her BA in Psychology from La Roche College located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has over 17 years of research experience, running the gamut to encompass almost every facet of a research study from the clinical research perspective to supervisory roles.

Diana Buck

Breanne McDermott, BS

Research Project Specialist

Breanne joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Lab in May 2021. Breanne received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021. Her research experience began during her undergraduate education and she continues to maintain passionate interest in research concerning women’s health, cognition and dementia. 

Diana Buck

Alexa Packard, MPH

Senior Research Associate

Alexa joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory in July of 2021. She received her BS in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and her Master’s in Public Health from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. Her experience with research began during her undergraduate career and has spanned many years and various areas of research, most prominently with underrepresented populations.

Diana Buck

Molly Tanner

Research Specialist

Molly Tanner joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Lab in August of 2021. Molly received her BS from the University of Pittsburgh in Natural Sciences with a concentration in Psychology and a Certificate in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. Her experience in research began during her undergraduate career and she continues to be enthusiastic about researching the fields of cognitive and neuropsychology.

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

Mary Carson, BS

Predoctoral Scholar

Mary Carson received her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology from the Ohio State University. Mary is currently pursuing a PhD in clinical and bio-health psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and her research focuses on investigating how adverse early life experiences relate to women’s health at midlife.