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Contact: Susan Joslin, (508) 289-7281; sjoslin@mbl.edu

Stanford Professor to Discuss How Social Status Influences the Brain at July 15th MBL Friday Evening Lecture


WOODS HOLE, MA—How does our perception of social rank influence the brain and the body? What are the mechanisms that allow social information to change brains? Professor Russell Fernald of Stanford University will discuss how social status influences the brain at the MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Friday Evening Lecture on July 15 at 8:00 PM in the MBL's Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. The event is free and open to the public.

Inequality in social status can have profound effects on the physical and mental health of individuals. For example, children from low socioeconomic status backgrounds have higher rates of mortality and are at greater risk for injuries, chronic medical conditions, and behavioral disorders compared with those from high socioeconomic status. Similarly, in adults, many studies have shown that higher-ranking individuals in organizations may have only one third the mortality rate of those of lower ranking individuals.

In animal systems, the effects of low social status can be measured and promise the hope of identifying underlying physiology responsible. In his MBL lecture, Professor Fernald will discuss social regulation in animals that can change brains and describe how we can discover actual mechanisms underlying such change.

Russell D. Fernald is professor of Neuroscience, Biology and the Benjamin Scott Crocker Professor of Human Biology at Stanford University. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1991 from the University of Oregon where he was a founding member and director of the Institute for Neuroscience. His research is focused on how social behavior influences the brain.

Professor Fernald is a Fellow in the American Association of Arts and Sciences, and has received numerous awards including the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, the highest honor bestowed on researchers by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the prestigious Rank Prize, and a host of awards for excellence in undergraduate education.

The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer at the MBL. The remaining lectures in the series are below. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu/FEL

July 22, 2011
Porter Lecture
"The Origin of Life"
Jack W. Szostak, Harvard University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 2009

July 29, 2011
"Coral Reefs: Past, Present and Future"
Nancy Knowlton, Smithsonian Institution

August 5, 2011
Glassman Lecture
"The Broad Spectrum of Prion-Like Diseases and the Quest for Therapeutics"
Stanley B. Prusiner, University of California, San Francisco; Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1997

August 11, 2011
Lederberg Lecture
"The Biochemistry of Inflammation: from Microciona to the Microbiome"
Gerald Weissmann, New York University School of Medicine

August 12, 2011
"Genetic Insight Into Candida Infection Biology"
Aaron P. Mitchell, Carnegie Mellon University

August 19, 2011
Sager Lecture
"Revisiting the Heuser and Reese Synapse in the 21st Century: Do Nerve Cells Kiss?" - Erik M. Jorgensen, University of Utah, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.