Hormones work in synergy, not in isolation. So do we. In the Cognitive Neuroendocrinology Group we study how hormones shape the human brain.


Dr. Julia Sacher is a professor of Cognitive Neuroendocrinology with the Medical Faculty of the University Clinic of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Human Brain Sciences. She is also the director of the Leipzig Center of Female Health & Gender Medicine, and a faculty member of the Max Planck School of Cognition (https://cognition.maxplanckschools.org/en), the International Max Planck Research School of Cognitive Neuroimaging, and the Berlin School of Mind & Brain.

Dr. Sacher is a psychiatrist and a neuroscientist. Her MD-degree and her PhD in neuroscience (Medical University Vienna, Austria) were followed by a postdoctoral clinical and research fellowship at the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH), University of Toronto, research stays at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University (funded by the NIH), and CDI (Career Development Institute for Mental Health Research) training at the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University, funded by the NIH. Dr. Sacher is a distinguished university scholar and has held several prestigious Awards and Fellowships, such as the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, the Brain and Behavior Young Investigator Award (2x), the CINP Rafaelsen Award, and the Branco Weiss Fellowship at the Society in Science (ETH, Zurich). She is a full member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmaoclogy (ACNP) and serves on advisory boards, editorial boards, and peer review panels internationally and nationally, including CAMH’s Womenmind Seed Funding Competition. Dr. Sacher drives initiatives in women's health research by advocating precision-imaging for hormonal transitions like the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, and encourages the integration of sex and gender-based analyses in neuroscience to uplift mental health for both women and men.

Dr. Sacher’s discoveries include:

  • pioneering sex as a discovery variable in multimodal large neuroimaging data-banks, such as in the relationship between obesity, brain health and cognitive performance across the life-span (JAMA Netw Open 2019) & prioritizing diversity, sex, and gender in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for big multi-organ MR data-bases, such as the UK Biobank and the Human Connectome Project (Science 2023)
  • proof of concept for dense sampling of ovarian hormones and human brain architecture including first human evidence of hippocampal subfield dynamics using high-field 7T MRI (Front Neurosci 2015; Nature Mental Health 2023)
  • spotlighting neurochemical changes in humans during major hormonal transition phases, such as increases of MAO-A in early postpartum, perimenopause and postpartum depression (JAMA Psych 2010; Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015) & establishing in-vivo serotonin transporter dynamics in the development of biomarker-led treatment strategies for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (Biol Psychiatry 2023)
  • establishing first evidence for linking between maternal mood postpartum and infant language development (JAMA Netw Open 2022), highlightening the critical need for early postpartum support and resilience promotion during family transition phases across the lifespan through the intersectional lens of sex hormones, inflammation, and stress (Psychopharmacology 2019)
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