Can sex and stress help your brain as you age? Expert will answer question

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(Feb. 15, 2010)--UTSA and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio will host "Sex, Stress and the Brain: From Serendipity to Clinical Relevance," a technical seminar featuring National Academy of Sciences member Bruce S. McEwen. The seminar will be at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 17 in the University Center Retama Auditorium (2.02.02) on the UTSA Main Campus.

McEwen will describe his groundbreaking research on how steroids, specifically sex hormones and stress hormones, can act on the brain to alter behavior and mood, regulate neuroendocrine activity and protect the brain from the effects of stress, aging and related disease processes. His work has advanced our understanding of how the environment can affect resilience and vulnerability to disease.

His team of researchers employs a variety of interdisciplinary approaches from cellular and molecular through translational studies to understand the neurobiological effects of hormones on brain plasticity, especially in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is crucial to forming episodic, spatial and contextual memories, and it is one of the first parts of the brain to show damage in Alzheimer's disease.

Rockefeller University's Alfred E. Mirsky Professor, McEwen is a world-renowned expert in neuroendocrinology. A 1964 graduate of Rockefeller University with a Ph.D. in cell biology, McEwen was a U.S. Public Health Service postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Neurobiology in Goteborg, Sweden from 1964 to 1965,and then served as a professor in the University of Minnesota's zoology department for a year. In 1966, he returned to Rockefeller as an assistant professor and in 1981 was named head of Rockefeller's Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology.

The UTSA Seminars in Translational Research (STRECH) bring together investigators from basic, clinical and social sciences to highlight the bidirectional and multiple stages of the scientific translation of research discoveries from the laboratory bench to the bedside and, ultimately, the community.

The monthly seminars are jointly sponsored by the UTSA Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI), the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS) -- Novel Clinical and Translational Methodologies, and the joint UTSA-UT Health Science Center Graduate Program in Biomedical Engineering. Both UTSA's RCMI program and the Health Science Center's IIMS are supported by the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health.

>> Learn more about the Feb. 17 lecture and upcoming seminars at the STRECH Web site.