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Neuroscience Prize Honors Work on Stress

Academy Governor Bruce S. McEwen is named winner of the 2011 Edward M. Scolnick Prize.

Published December 09, 2011

Academy Governor and former Board of Governors Vice Chair Bruce S. McEwen is the winner of the 2011 Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience. The Scolnick Prize is awarded annually by the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT to recognize outstanding advances in the field of neuroscience.

McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University, has spent more than four decades studying how hormones regulate the brain and nervous system. Work by McEwen and his colleagues has shown that in the hippocampus, chronic stress causes neurons to undergo a remodeling of dendrites, changes that are largely reversed once the stress is removed, at least in young adult animals. His laboratory has extended these studies on the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala.

"Bruce has made pioneering discoveries about the effects of stress hormones on the brain," says Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of The Rockefeller University and a member of the Academy's President's Council. "His research has shown how chronic stress damages the brain, while acute stress can prove to be beneficial. Bruce's findings have direct implications for improving human health."