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Photo of Maki, Pauline

Pauline Maki, PhD


Brain and Cognitive Sciences


Building & Room:

1009 BSB


1007 W. Harrison Street

Office Phone:

(312) 996-3036


For over 25 years, Dr. Pauline M. Maki has led a program of NIH-funded research focused on women’s mental and cognitive health, and the role of sex hormones and reproductive transitions (menopause, pregnancy, menstrual cycle) on well-being in women. The broad goal of her work is to improve the lives of women by identifying factors that alter their risk of cognitive decline and affective disorders. Dr. Maki received her PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1994. She received post-graduate training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. With support from the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council she completed a second postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in neuroimaging, and in 1999 joined the NIA Intramural Research Program as a tenure-track investigator. In 2002, she joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


  • Dr. Maki is best known for her contributions to the field of menopause and cognition. She is Past President of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and current Treasurer of the International Menopause Society, and a frequent national and international speaker on this topic. Her research in menopause focuses on how hormonal changes and menopause symptoms contribute to cognition, mood, and brain function in midlife women. She also leads clinical trials of hormonal and non-hormonal interventions for hot flashes, with a goal of understanding their effects on cognition. Her research findings have been incorporated in clinical practice guidelines and position statements by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), the International Menopause Society (IMS), and the National Network on Depression Centers.
  • Currently, Dr. Maki is funded by NIA to examine the role of vasomotor symptoms on cognition and brain function, as her pilot work showed that physiological hot flashes (measured with ambulatory skin conductance monitors) are associated with memory deficits, ischemic brain lesions, and functional alterations in the brain at rest (RF1 AG053504-01). She is also funded by the NIA to examine the role of an anesthesia procedure, Stellate Ganglion Blockade (SGB), as an effective non-hormonal treatment for vasomotor symptoms and related memory problems (R01 AG049924). Lastly, she is funded by the NIA to lead a study of the natural history of brain changes across the menopause transition in the the Adult Aging Brain Connectome (AABC; formerly Human Connectome Project-Aging).


  • Dr. Maki’s research on women’s cognitive health and mood extends to the study of women with HIV. As Head of the Neurocognitive Working Group (NCWG) of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), she launched the largest longitudinal study of cognitive function in HIV-infected women and HIV-uninfected controls (n=~1521). Her NIH-funded work in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) revealed a significant and prominent deficit in verbal memory in HIV-infected women compared to at-risk HIV-uninfected women, a pattern that appears to differ from that of HIV-infected men. Her work showed that menopause stage influences verbal memory in women. Other NIH-funded work demonstrated that substance use and mental health factors contribute to verbal memory declines in HIV-infected women, effects that are mediated by the prefrontal cortex. This work points to a unique pattern of cognitive dysfunction in HIV-infected women, one that is largely influenced by mental health factors.


  • Dr. Maki has successfully built a collaboration with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Department of Biomedical Engineering to address disparities in the screening and treatment of mental health disorders of pregnant and postpartum women. She has pursued innovative approaches to fill in gaps in depression screening by creating a research infrastructure that involves undergraduate research assistants who screen for perinatal depression during routine clinic visits. She also leads NIH-funded investigations of the effects of neuroactive steroids and alterations in the gut microbiome in perinatal depression.


  • Throughout her career, Dr. Maki has made mentorship a priority at the undergraduate, graduate, and assistant professor levels. Currently in her lab, she serves as primary mentor to 6 PhD students (4 from the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Division and 2 from the Graduate Program in Neuroscience) and one Master’s student. Her students have won numerous awards, including F31 Fellowships, National Science Foundation Fellowships, Best Poster Awards from the North American Menopause Society and the Alice J. Dan Dissertation Award. As a UIC Honors College Fellow, she also mentors honors college undergraduates. In 2015 she was honored with the first Capstone Mentor of the Year award from the Honors College. At UIC she has held many leadership positions in mentorship, including serving as the Program Director for the NIH-funded K12 grant Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH). Annually, she teaches Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience to undergraduate students. She

Selected Publications

Maki PM, Springer G, Anastos K, Gustafson DR, Weber K, Vance D, Dykxhoorn D, Milam J, Adimora AA, Kassaye SG, Waldrop-Valverde D. Cognitive changes during the menopausal transition: a longitudinal study in women with and without HIV. Menopause (New York, NY). 2021 Jan 1;28(4):360.

Thurston RC, Wu M, Chang YF, Aizenstein HJ, Derby CA, Barinas-Mitchell EA, Maki P. Menopausal vasomotor symptoms and white matter hyperintensities in midlife women. Neurology. 2023 Jan 10;100(2):e133-41.

Wenzel ES, Gibbons RD, O’Hara MW, Duffecy J, Maki PM. Depression and anxiety symptoms across pregnancy and the postpartum in low-income Black and Latina women. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 2021 Dec;24(6):979-86.

Wenzel ES, Pinna G, Eisenlohr-Moul T, Bernabe BP, Tallon RR, Nagelli U, Davis J, Maki PM. Neuroactive steroids and depression in early pregnancy. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 Dec 1;134:105424.

Maki PM, Rubin LH, Savarese A, Drogos L, Shulman LP, Banuvar S, Walega DR. Stellate ganglion blockade and verbal memory in midlife women: Evidence from a randomized trial. Maturitas. 2016 Oct 31;92:123-9. PMID: 27621249

Maki PM, Wu M, Rubin LH, Fornelli D, Drogos LL, Geller S, Shulman LP, Banuvar S, Little DM, Conant RJ. Hot flashes are associated with altered brain function during a memory task. Menopause. 2020 Mar 1;27(3):269-77.

Sundermann EE, Biegon A, Rubin LH, Lipton RB, Mowrey W, Landau S, & Maki PM for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Better verbal memory in women than men in MCI despite similar levels of hippocampal atrophy. Neurology. 2016 Apr 12;86(15):1368-76. PMCID: PMC4831033

Sundermann EE, Biegon A, Rubin LH, Lipton RB, Landau S, Maki PM. Does the female advantage in verbal memory contribute to underestimating Alzheimer’s disease pathology in women versus men? Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2017 Jan 1(Preprint):1-1. PMCID: PMC4831033

Professional Memberships