Karen L. Lankford PhD

Chairperson of the Board & President/SGM
Founder of SimplyGrayMatters
kll@simplygraymatters.org

Karen L. Lankford PhD, founder of SimplyGrayMatters, is an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine. She conducts basic neuroscience research at the Neuroscience and Regeneration Research facility affiliated with Yale Medical School and the West Haven, Connecticut VA Hospital, and has authored or co-authored over three dozen peer-reviewed papers on her research. She received a BA in Zoology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a PhD in Neurobiology and Physiology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Her broad science background allows her to understand the core elements of each neurological or neuropsychiatric condition and the basic treatment strategies, and to explain them using everyday language and simple analogies to people who do not have a medical or scientific background. Her motivation for developing the SimplyGrayMatters website was based on numerous interactions with members of the general public who would try to pick her brain to help them understand what their doctors had told them. She became aware that although there is a great deal of medical information on the Internet, much of it is not very useful to people who lack the educational background to understand it.   

“Almost every time I would tell someone I just met what I did for a living, he or she would immediately tell me about some condition that he or she or a family member was dealing with and would ask me questions. That person wasn’t asking me for medical advice because, in the first place, he or she knew that I was not a medical doctor, and in the second place, he or she had already gotten medical advice, but hadn’t understood it. The questions were much more basic. The person wanted to know what the condition was and why the doctor was recommending something that made little sense. The questions I was asked about these neurological conditions were not dumb questions, but rather rooted in logical, but incorrect, assumptions about how the brain is put together and how it works. I got a lot of practice in giving just enough background information to enable a layperson to understand his or her condition, more or less the same way that a doctor would. This is what SimplyGrayMatters attempts to accomplish.”