Young neurosurgeon awarded US$150,000 to study higher cerebral aneurysm rate in women

Rosalind Lai (Credit: Sandra Kicman)

A young neurosurgeon and researcher from Buffalo, USA has been awarded US$150,000 via the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Foundation/Cerebrovascular (CV) Young Investigator Grant to study the reasons why women develop a higher rate of cerebral aneurysms compared to men.

“Women have twice the risk of developing a cerebral aneurysm than men,” said Rosalind Lai (University of Buffalo, Buffalo, USA). “The goal of my research is to identify genes that may be associated with cerebral aneurysms and explain why women have a higher rate of aneurysms. By identifying these genes, we can identify potential targets to prevent and treat aneurysms.”

According to Lai—whose recently received grant is set to support her research until 2026—these risks increase for post-menopausal women, suggesting that there is a hormonal association with the disease.

In 2019, Lai was a principal investigator on the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study I and II, which explored reproductive risk factors associated with cerebral aneurysms.

“My work with the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study revealed that women with a longer reproductive lifespan, indicating more years of oestrogen exposure, seem to have a protective effect against aneurysms,” she continued—adding, however, that studies on hormonal supplementation have been mixed and inconclusive.

“It is clear that hormones alone do not provide the comprehensive explanation,” she noted. “That is why our study aims to uncover underlying genetic factors to enhance our understanding of this difference.”

Lai further stated that she is especially interested in “sharing her fascination” in this field with University of Buffalo medical students and residents.

“I am extremely excited about working with students and residents on this project, and our other cerebrovascular research projects,” she said. “I am particularly passionate about advancing women’s health and encouraging women to pursue careers in academic medicine and neurosurgery.

“During my residency, I had the privilege of caring for many patients with ruptured aneurysms. Each interaction was profoundly meaningful, and it became evident to me that there is still much to learn and understand to prevent and treat this devastating disease.”

Sponsored by the CNS Foundation, the award given to Lai was established to provide sustained research start-up funding for early-stage, academic neurosurgeon-scientists in the field of cerebrovascular disease.

“Right out of the gate, Dr Lai is proving to be the academic powerhouse we believed her to be,” said CNS president Elad Levy (University of Buffalo, Buffalo, USA). “We are extremely fortunate to recruit talented neuroscience acumen to UBNS [University of Buffalo Neurosurgery], as we continue to establish our group as an international neurovascular centre of excellence.”


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