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Student's creative approach to research earns award for women's health

Tara Gralnick's work in women's health may help practitioners choose the best way to treat women with depression

It didn’t take long for UTSC student Tara Gralnick to realize her calling – to understand distress in order to help those who were suffering. As a recipient of a prestigious Women’s Health Scholars Award, she’ll have her chance.

“I knew it was going to be competitive, and I’m grateful to have been selected and thrilled to have an opportunity to do this research,” says Gralnick, a first-year Master’s student in the Department of Psychological Clinical Science. She is part of the inaugural cohort of students in the new Masters program, which launched in September 2013.

Gralnick’s work will focus on rumination, the tendency to constantly think about the causes and consequences of distressing events.

“We know that women are more likely to suffer from major depressive episodes than men, and are also more likely to ruminate,” she says, pointing out that rumination is involved in the onset and recurrence of depression.

Gralnick will investigate whether rumination predicts treatment response in women who suffer from depression and are being treated with either cognitive-behavioural therapy or anti-depressant medication. Eventually, Gralnick’s work may help practitioners choose the best treatment for women with depression, depending on how often they ruminate.

“Tara is very creative in the way she approaches problems,” says Dr. Michael Bagby, UTSC psychology professor and Gralnick’s supervisor. “She’s also an outstanding writer, which is coupled with an unique ability to synthesize a seemingly disparate literature and then generate meaningful and testable hypotheses that have translational value."

“I’d like to continue doing research and to also work as a practicing psychologist,” says Gralnick. “My ultimate dream would be for my research to inform my practice and vice versa. This award is a huge step towards achieving that goal.”

The Women’s Health Scholars Awards, administered by the Council of Ontario Universities, were established to support research that will improve the health of women. Gralnick was one of six to receive an award for 2014.

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