Meet the 2023 Laureates: Holly A. Ingraham, PhD

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Edwin B. Astwood Award for Outstanding Research in Basic Science

Holly A. Ingraham, PhD

Ingraham is the Herzstein Endowed Professor in Molecular Physiology at University of California, San Francisco in San Francisco, Calif.

As a world leader in hormone signaling, Ingraham has illuminated basic molecular processes controlling endocrine development and physiology, with recent emphasis on understanding the cellular and molecular basis of diseases that exhibit a sex-bias in women. A few of her most notable contributions to the basic science field include being the driving force in identifying one of the first tissue-specific regulators, Pit-1, a founding member of the POU-homeodomain transcription factor family.

She has studied the influence of estrogen-sensitive brain cells on bone density and is interested in the development of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, the neuroendocrine center of the brain. Beyond the brain, Ingraham has studied sex-specific differences in gut-brain signaling pathways, to understand why women are more susceptible to intestinal visceral pain syndromes.

Ingraham also demonstrated that the nuclear receptor Steroidogenic Factor 1 (SF-1) is a major determinant of gonadal sex-differences. Her most recent study demonstrating a two-step hormonal system of estrogen activation of melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) signaling in the ventromedial hypothalamus provides the first mechanistic understanding of the preovulatory activity spike observed in most mammals that enhances sexual receptivity and reproductive fitness. This novel hormone-dependent node illuminates the power of estrogen in motivating behavior and maintaining an active lifestyle in females.

How has the Endocrine Society supported your professional development/career journey?

I have been attending the Endocrine Society’s annual conferences, or ENDO, since 1990 and they have offered a wide array of topics in peptide and hormone signaling.

As a Laureate Award recipient, do you have any advice for those just beginning their careers?

Stay focused on your scientific interests and maintain your passion for answering curiosity-based questions.

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