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July 15, 2003
The Neurobiology of Social Communication Topic of July 17 and 18 Forbes Lectures at the MBL

WOODS HOLE, MA - Darcy B. Kelley, a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, will present the Marine Biological Laboratory's (MBL's) Forbes Lectures, part of the Laboratory's 2003 Friday Evening Lecture Series.  The lectures will be held on Thursday, July 17 and Friday, July 18 in the MBL's Lillie Auditorium, located on MBL Street in Woods Hole.   Both lectures begin at 8:00 PM and are free and open to the public.

Since 1959, the special two-part Forbes Lectures have been supported by The Grass Foundation, a private foundation that supports research and education in neuroscience. The lectures are given in honor of pioneering neurobiologist  Alexander Forbes. Traditionally, the Forbes lecturer also spends several weeks at the MBL, working alongside the Grass Fellowship Program.

Dr. Kelley’s Thursday night talk is entitled "Brain to Brain: A Neurobiology of Vocal Communication." Dr. Janis C. Weeks, Professor of Biology at the University of Oregon, will introduce Dr. Kelley.

In her Thursday talk, Dr. Kelley will explore the question of how one brain communicates with another.  This, says Kelley, lies at the heart of the neurobiology of social communication.  Dr. Kelley has addressed this question through studying the complex vocal communication system of the South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis.

In her Friday night talk,  "Generating Male and Female Brains: A Molecular Alphabet for Sexual Differentiation," Dr. Kelley will discuss her work that aims to determine how sex differences in the brain contribute to male and female specification actions.  To answer this question, Dr. Kelley and her colleagues study the male and female specific songs of the South African clawed frog.  This creature Xenopus laevisis, which came to scientific prominence as the vehicle for the first pregnancy test, is exquisitely sensitive to human sex hormones.  Dr. Kelley will be introduced on Friday by Dr. Bernice Grafstein, the Vincent and Brooke Astor Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Darcy Kelley attended Grinnell College in Iowa and was graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University in 1970.  She was awarded a Ph.D. in 1975 from the Rockefeller University for studies carried out in the laboratory of Donald Pfaff and took her post-doctoral training there with Fernando Nottebohm.  In 1978 she moved to Princeton University to be Assistant Professor in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program.  Recruited to Columbia University in 1981 as a tenured Associate Professor, Dr. Kelley was promoted to full Professor in 1987.  From 1985 to 1989 she directed the Neural Systems and Behavior course at the MBL.  Dr. Kelley founded Columbia’s doctoral program in Neurobiology and Behavior in 1995 and currently serves as co-director.  She has been Editor of the Journal of Neurobiology since 1986.  Her honors include many distinguished lectureships.  In addition, Dr. Kelley received the Jacobs Javits Neuroscience Investigator award twice (1988-1995; 1995-2002).  In 2002, she was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, an award aimed at encouraging distinguished scientific researchers in creative approaches to undergraduate education.

Friday Evening Lectures are a long-standing tradition at the MBL, dating back to the turn of the last century when they were delivered by such outstanding scientists as Jacques Loeb, Thomas Hunt Morgan, and Charles O. Whitman.

The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer.  Remaining lectures in the series are:

July 25
Glassman Lecture
"Addressing the Threat of Anthrax"
R. John Collier, Harvard Medical School

August 1
"Intraflagellar Transport and Cilia-Dependent Diseases"
Joel Rosenbaum, Yale University

August 8
"Regulation of Aging by SIR2"
Lenny Guarente, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

August 15
"Gene Action in the Pathobiology of Aging"
George Martin, University of Washington

The Marine Biological Laboratory is an internationally known, independent, nonprofit research and educational institution. It conducts the highest level of original research and education in biology, including the biomedical and environmental sciences. MBL hosts research programs in cell and developmental biology, ecosystems studies, molecular biology and evolution, neurobiology, behavior, global infectious diseases and sensory physiology. Its intensive graduate-level educational program is renowned throughout the life sciences. Founded in 1888, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the western hemisphere.