Dr. Sara Nowakowski, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UTMB, received a $19,250 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to conduct research studying the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of insomnia among women with menopausal depression.

Nowakowski’s project was among nine selected from a pool of 51 applicants from universities across Texas. The foundation awarded the grants, totaling $173,250, to tenure-track assistant professors in Texas whose research will advance our overall understanding of mental health.

Nowakowski’s study will examine the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of insomnia among peri and postmenopausal women with major depressive disorder. Because the study participants will be recruited from the racially and ethnically diverse Galveston community, the project will have great relevance for improving access, reducing treatment barriers and improving the mental health of an underserved community.

“Women are twice as likely to develop depression and are particularly vulnerable during the menopausal transition,” said Nowakowski. “The results of this study have the strong potential of offering a method for improving the treatment of depression during menopause without the use of additional medication, thereby improving quality of life and reducing costs to society.”

In addition to increasing the pool of junior faculty doing quality mental health research, the Hogg grants also fund the disbursement of research findings through presentations at state and national conferences and meetings.

“Sleep disturbances often go underreported and underdiagnosed, and can have a significant impact on long-term health outcomes,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation and vice president for diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. ”We are excited about what Dr. Nowakowski’s work will mean for the development and testing of behavioral interventions to improve women’s mental health.”

The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Gov. James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin