Naomi Rance, MD, PhD, professor and associate chair of the Department of Pathology, is the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s 2015 Founders Day honoree for her groundbreaking research in the neuroendocrinology of menopause.
As honoree, Dr. Rance will give the Founders Day lecture, “Reproductive Aging and the Human Hypothalamus: From LH Pulses to Hot Flushes,” on Tuesday, Nov. 17, noon to 1 p.m., in DuVal Auditorium, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, 1501 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson. The lecture is free and open to the public. (Please note: There is a parking fee of $1.50 per hour, cash only, in the Banner – UMC Tucson visitor/patient parking garage.) A light lunch will be served. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, Nov. 12.
The Founders Day lectureship was established in 1979 to commemorate the founding of the UA College of Medicine, which was dedicated Nov. 17, 1967, and to recognize and honor the college’s faculty for their scientific accomplishments. Each year a well-established and nationally recognized faculty member is honored and asked to deliver the Founders Day lecture. In selecting a speaker, the following criteria define the recipient: “A faculty member who embodies a model of an investigator whose research has a continuous thread of significance and who can effectively present that research with enthusiasm, vigor and inspiration.”
“Dr. Rance’s contributions to the college are notable in that she not only is an extremely accomplished researcher whose discoveries have enhanced our understanding of the biology of menopause, but she also has consistently made important contributions to the teaching and clinical missions of the College that are of the highest caliber,” Dr. Funk said. “She is well deserving of our recognition.”
Anne Cress, PhD, deputy dean for research and academic affairs at the college, said the Founders Day committee chose Dr. Rance from a number of nominees, “since she is an outstanding researcher, has won numerous teaching awards, and continues to be an outstanding neuropathologist. We are very proud of Dr. Rance as she has been an inspiration to many of us, in the Founder's Day tradition.”
The overall goal of Dr. Rance’s research is to characterize and understand the effects of menopause on the human hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that controls a number of functions, including hormonal activity and body temperature.
Her studies have focused on a group of neurons in the human hypothalamus that enlarge and express increased levels of the gene neurokinin B mRNA in response to the ovarian failure of menopause. These observations formed the basis for nearly 20 years of research on the role of neurokinin B in reproduction.
“Neurokinin B in the brain is located in neurons and is involved in cell-to-cell communication, much like neurotransmitters,” Dr. Rance explained. “It is considered a neuromodulator because it is released at neuron terminals and will bind to receptors on the next cell and modulate the activity of that cell.”
In 2009, the significance of Dr. Rance’s research became widely recognized when it was reported that mutations in the neurokinin B gene or its receptor leads to failure of pubertal development and infertility in humans. More recently, her laboratory has focused on the role of neurokinin B in the estrogen modulation of body temperature. These studies provide evidence that the dramatic changes in neurokinin B gene expression in the postmenopausal human hypothalamus may be involved in the etiology of hot flushes.
In addition to her role as professor and associate chair of the Department of Pathology, Dr. Rance has joint appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and is a member of the UA Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.
Dr. Rance received her doctorate in physiology followed by a medical degree at the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore. She completed a residency program in anatomic pathology and a neuropathology fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Dr. Rance divides her time between research in neuroendocrinology, clinical neuropathology and teaching at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Her clinical practice is in the subspecialty of neuropathology in the department’s Divisions of Surgical Pathology and Autopsy Pathology. She also is extensively involved in teaching neuropathology to medical students and residents. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, including the college’s Basic Science Educator of the Year Lifetime Award.
The Founders Day lecture will be video streamed and archived at http://streaming.biocom.arizona.edu
About the UA College of Medicine – Tucson
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is advancing health and wellness through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and across the U.S. Founded in 1967, the college ranks among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care and is leading the way in academic medicine through a partnership with Banner – University Medicine, a new division of one of the largest nonprofit health-care systems in the country. For more information, visit medicine.arizona.edu