Dr. Franz received her Ph.D.in personality psychology from Boston University in 1988. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University with Dr. David McClelland in 1992. She was a visiting professor at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1992-93) and Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts (1993-1994). She then joined the faculty at UC Berkeley as a Research Psychologist (1994-1996), working with Dr. Jack Block on his longitudinal study of child development. She became senior research analyst at the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care at UC Davis from 1996 until joining the Psychiatry Department at UC San Diego in 2004.
Dr. Franz’s primary research is on the longitudinal study of stress and aging, with a focus on risk and preventive factors for cognitive and brain aging. She is MPI and co-investigator on NIH/NIA grants that follow middle-aged twin men from late adolescence into later life, now funded for over 18 years. The primary VETSA project focuses on cognition, personality, psychosocial factors, and biomedical measures in over 1600 twins. Nearly 800 of these twins also provided multiple at-home and in-lab saliva samples in order to assess diurnal patterns of cortisol, testosterone, and DHEAS and emotional lability. VETSA twins also undergo 3D structural MRI and diffusion tensor imaging. The VETSA projects constitute a unique, integrative program of research aimed at understanding the genetic and environmental influences on and the heterogeneity of cognitive and brain aging. We are also collecting data on other environmental influences such as air pollution through collaborations with Dr. Tuck Finch and J.C. Chen at USC. Dr. Franz is co-editor with Dr. Abigail Stewart at University of Michigan of a book: “Women Creating Lives: Identities, Resilience and Resistance (1994).