Louann Brizendine’s Story

Louann Brizendine’s Story

Louann’s Brizendine, MD, neuropsychiatrist

Founder, UCSF Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic 

UCSF Department of Psychiatry

Lynne and Marc Benioff endowed professor of clinical psychiatry UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences


Louann was born in Hazard, Kentucky. She grew up in a small Southern California beach town, Oceanside, where her father was the pastor of a local church, and her mother was a schoolteacher.

Since only about 10% of my high school from my small town went to four-year colleges there wasn’t much support or guidance, so the only colleges she knew about were in my state. “I applied and was admitted to Berkeley, which seemed a long way from home!”

Louann was a sophomore at UC Berkeley and studying architecture but not liking it much. Then she had a single interaction that was to change the course of her life.

“I was in college and my boyfriend’s uncle came to visit.

He was a doctor and a scientist studying how to get the body to accept a kidney transplant and not reject it.

He was on fire about his work and told me all about how the immune system worked.

I always loved biology and he encouraged me to become a doctor.”

So, after graduating from UC Berkeley, Louann attended medical school at Yale.  

It was there she decided to become a psychiatrist specializing in the mood effects of hormones in the female brain.

After Louann’s residency training in psychiatry at Harvard, she returned to San Francisco where she founded the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic.

“Finally, I was getting to do what I had been obsessed with for decades: helping women with mood and hormone issues”, said Louanne.  “While at UCSF I met the love of my life, Dr. Sam Barondes.

We had been colleagues in the same department at UCSF, so we already knew each other but when a high-profile donor offered to fund some of my work on hormones in the brain, I needed advice on how to proceed.

Sam offered to take me to lunch to discuss it. We met at a little restaurant close to the Golden Gate Park and I excitedly explained to him what I was working on. We spent a couple hours at lunch on that Tuesday.  Later that afternoon I got a voicemail on my answering machine from him saying he thought I had a very interesting project and that he’d like to meet again soon: ‘How about dinner on Thursday?’

I remember pausing for a moment as I realized what that meant! Of course, I called back immediately to say ‘yes’. And we never looked back. We knew right away we had something special and rare. We would finish each other’s sentences and already know what the other was thinking. I got the donor money, and my career took off in a new direction as did my personal life.”

“I have written two previous books: The Female Brain and The Male Brain.

The Female Brain became a NY Times Bestseller and was translated into 32 languages.

A movie was made movie called The Female Brain. “


In addition to helping many patients in my clinic, I have been fortunate to speak worldwide and do a TED talk.

Now, Louann has written a new book: The Upgrade: How the Female Brain Gets Stronger and Better in Midlife and Beyond.

Louann sums up her thoughts regarding her new book this way: “As women approach midlife and beyond, they are vessels of wisdom.

My book explains how recognizing women’s strength can help others in the second half of their life help others live a life filled with serenity, health and joy.”

“This is an important book. I want all women to read it. I wish I had read it years ago!”
—Jane Fonda

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