McEwen delivers Pincus Memorial Lecture

‘Most renowned’ leader in the field of hormonal activity in the brain

By Mark L. Shelton

UMass Medical School Communications

October 30, 2013
(from left) Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research President Emeritus Thoru Pederson; Pincus Medal recipient Bruce S. McEwen of Rockefeller University; and C. Robert Matthews, PhD, the Arthur F. and Helen P. Koskinas Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology and chair and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology at UMass Medical School at the 26th Pincus Memorial Lecture, October 29, 2013.

Bruce S. McEwen, PhD, the Alfred E. Mirsky Professor at Rockefeller University, was the 26th recipient of the Gregory Pincus Medal and delivered a lecture on “Sex, Stress and the Brain: Interactive Action of Hormones on the Developing and Adult Brain,” at a ceremony held on Oct. 29. The Pincus Medal and Lecture honor the eminent co-founder of the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research and a pioneer in reproductive biology, Gregory G. Pincus.

Introduced by Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and President Emeritus of the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Thoru Pederson, PhD, as ‘the most renowned neuroendocrinologist in the world,” Dr. McEwen has been a pioneer in the fields of steroid hormone action in the brain, especially the sex-related and stress-related effects on brain chemistry. Dr. Pederson, the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology and professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology, noted that it was especially appropriate for McEwen to be honored with an award named for Dr. Pincus, who with M. C. Chang, PhD, made the seminal discoveries that led to the creation of oral contraceptives. McEwen’s work in recent years has focused on the interconnections between sex and stress hormones and behavioral and mental health, leading to, as Pederson pointed out, “paradigm shifts in the field with major clinical implications.”

Previous recipients of the Pincus Medal include some of the world’s most prominent scientists, including Judah Folkman; Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe; and Angela Brodie.