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Rebecca Thurston, PhD

  • Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Women's Health and Dementia and Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science, at the University of Pittsburgh
  • Director, Women's Biobehavioral Health Program at the University of Pittsburgh
  • Director, Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Thurston is recognized nationally as a leader in the field of women’s health, particularly in the areas of menopause, trauma, cardiovascular disease, and brain aging in women.

Her innovative research focuses on menopause, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and dementia risk in women, three prevalent and inter-related health issues that can have a profound impact on women's lives.

Her research examines hot flashes as a potential midlife marker of underlying risk for CVD, the leading cause of death in women. Leveraging novel wearable technologies, her research has shown hot flashes as linked to poorer underlying vascular health and increased risk for CVD. She has extended this work to consider hot flashes as well as poor sleep in relation to brain aging and dementia risk in women. Her research further considers whether traumatic experiences, particularly sexual harassment, assault, and abuse, have implications for women’s cardiovascular and brain health. Dr. Thurston has published seminal work showing that women with a history of sexual violence are at increased risk for CVD as they age.

Dr. Thurston has presented her research findings at numerous scientific meetings throughout the United States and abroad. She is frequently called upon to present her work as well as share her expertise as a reviewer for a number of scientific journals and granting agencies. Dr. Thurston was awarded the Henry Burger Award from the International Menopause Society; is a Fellow of the American Psychosomatic Society and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research; and is Past President of the North American Menopause Society.

Dr. Thurston received both her Master's and Doctorate degrees in Clinical Health Psychology from Duke University. Following a clinical internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2003, she went on to complete a two-year fellowship as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Harvard University before joining the Department of Psychiatry faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. Dr. Thurston also holds secondary appointments at Pitt in the Department of Epidemiology and the Department of Psychology.