Gillian Einstein, Prof. Dr.

My early training in systems neuroscience, later development of expertise in sex differences in the nervous system (Einstein, 2009), and current engagement in women’s health (Einstein and Shildrick, 2009) have given me a unique perspective on female genital circumcision/mutilation/cutting (FGC) which posits that FGC, itself, is a bodily instantiation of culture. Specifically, I have viewed FGC as an alteration of the nervous system – nerve, muscle, and brain which in turn, literally literally leads to the development of different neural pathways than those in women without FGC (Einstein, 2008). The cutting and subsequent regeneration of axons in the genital region can lead to chronic, neuropathic pain and we have found this in a group of Somali Canadian women (Einstein, 2012). In order to better understand the nature of pain in the everyday lives of Somali Canadian women I have also carried out qualitative interviews asking about pain in everyday life (Einstein, 2016, forthcoming). This perspective has both helped me understand the cultural nuances of FGC and led to my respect for the women who live with it daily – both in terms of what they sacrificed for their culture, what it means to them, and their living with it in countries like the US and Canada in which it is poorly understood. This application is an important step in the direction of understanding whether or not and how women with FGC experience sexual pain. I have a unique perspective to offer this project and have had Canadian Institutes of Health Research funding for this unique approach to studying FGC. These findings have been presented at numerous scientific meetings. I have also published on sex differences in pain (Hassan et al., 2014; Hassan et al., 2016) and am currently funded to study the effects of estrogen deprivation on learning and memory.

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Positions and Honors

  • 1987-1989  Research Associate, Department of Anatomy, Duke University
  • 1989-1999  Assistant Research Professor of Neurobiology, Duke University
    Assistant Research Professor of Zoology, Duke University
Senior Fellow, Center for Study of Aging, Duke University
    Associate, Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Alzheimer’s Research Center
  • 1989-1994  National Institutes of Health: FIRST Award
  • 1999  Duke University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award
    Invitee, White House Conference on Mental Health
  • 1999-2001  International Science Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (Declined)
  • 1999-2000  Adjunct Associate Professor of Neurobiology, Duke University
  • 1999-2003  Scientific Review Administrator, Molecular, Developmental and Cellular Neurosciences 2, National Institutes of Health
  • 2003  Thought Leaders, Strategic Planning, Society for Women’s Health Research
  • 2003-2008  Invited to join: The Committee for Staff Training in Extramural Programs, National Institutes of Health (Declined)
  • 2004-2006  Associate Director, Centre for Research in Women’s Health, Women’s College Hosp.
  • 2006-2009  Treasurer, The Organization for the Study of Sex Differences
  • 2006-present  Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto (Tenured)
    Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto (Tenured)
    Adjunct Scientist, Women’s College Research Institute
  • 2007  Strategic Planning, Connors Center for Women’s Health & Gender Biology, Harvard
  • 2007-present  Scientific and Affiliate Staff, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center
  • 2007-present  Director, Collaborative Graduate Program in Women’s Health Medicine, U. Toronto
  • 2008  Temporary Advisor WHO (Geneva) Psychological Consequences of Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation
  • 2010  (Spring) Visiting Associate Professor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • 2010-2013  Member of the Advisory Board for the Institute of Gender and Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • 2010-2013  Counselor, The Organization for the Study of Sex Differences
  • 2011-2012  Expert Advisory Committee, ECHO: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario
  • 2011-2013  Director of Undergraduate Studies, Psychology Department, University of Toronto
  • 2013-2016  Chair, Advisory Board for the Institute of Gender and Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • 2014  Program Chair, Annual Meeting of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences
  • 2014-2015  Co-Lead, Women, Gender, Sex and Dementia Cross-Cutting Program, Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration and Aging
  • 2014-present  Guest Professor of Neuroscience and Gender Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden