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The 16th Endocrine Regulations Prize of the Fondation IPSEN Will Be Awarded to Bruce McEWEN


The Fondation IPSEN (1) contributes to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge by fostering interaction between scientists and clinicians. The Fondation IPSEN Endocrine Regulations Prize (2) will be presented today at the ECE (European Congress of Endocrinology) in Lisbon. An international jury (3) chaired by Professor Iain Robinson (National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK), awarded the prize to Bruce Mc Ewen for his pioneering work on glucocorticoids, stress and neuronal degeneration.

The Fondation IPSEN(1) contributes to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge by fostering interaction between scientists and clinicians from different backgrounds. Created in 2002, the Endocrine Regulations Prize(2) of the Fondation IPSEN awards renowned specialists who made breakthrough discoveries or significant progress in the field. Pr Bruce McEwen has been awarded by an international jury(3) for his pioneering work on glucocorticoids, stress and neuronal degeneration. The prize will be presented at the ECE (European Congress of Endocrinology), followed by a lecture given by Bruce McEwen.

During his talk, Bruce McEwen will discuss about the role of the steroid hormones that are produced in the brain which mediate every aspect of brain function. This has broadened the definition of ‘neuroendocrinology’ to include the reciprocal communication between the brain and the body via hormonal and neural pathways.
The brain is the central organ of stress and adaptation to stress because it perceives and determines what is threatening, as well as the behavioural and physiological responses to the stressor. The adult and developing brain possess remarkable structural and functional plasticity in response to stress, including neuronal replacement, dendritic remodelling, and synapse turnover. Stress causes an imbalance of neural circuitry subserving cognition, decision-making, anxiety and mood. This imbalance, in turn, affects systemic physiology via neuroendocrine, autonomic, immune and metabolic mediators. In the short term, as for increased fearful vigilance and anxiety in a threatening environment, these changes may be adaptive. But, if the danger passes and the behavioural state persists along with the changes in neural circuitry, such maladaptation may need intervention with a combination of pharmacological and behavioural therapies, as is the case for chronic anxiety and depression. Moreover, adverse early-life experience, produce lasting effects on brain and body over the life-course via epigenetic mechanisms. While prevention is most important, the plasticity of the brain gives hope for therapies that take into consideration brain–body interactions.

Bruce S. McEwen obtained his Ph.D. in Cell Biology in 1964 from The Rockefeller University. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as President of the Society for Neuroscience in 1997-98. As a neuroscientist and neuroendocrinologist, McEwen studies environmentally-regulated, variable gene expression in brain, mediated by circulating steroid hormones and endogenous neurotransmitters in relation to brain sexual differentiation and the actions of sex and stress hormones on the adult brain. His laboratory discovered adrenal steroid receptors in the hippocampus in 1968 that was the gateway for discovering effects of circulating hormones on cognitive function, mood regulation and other CNS functions. His laboratory combines molecular, anatomical, pharmacological, physiological and behavioral methodologies and relates their findings to human clinical information. His current research focuses on stress effects on amygdala and prefrontal cortex, as well as hippocampus, and his laboratory also investigates sex hormone effects and sex differences in these brain regions involved in cognitive function and mood regulation. He served on the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health, in which he has helped to reformulate concepts and measurements related to stress and stress hormones in the context of human societies. This led to the concept of “allostatic load and overload” that describes the wear and tear on the body and brain from chronic stress and related life style behaviors that lead to dysregulation of physiological stress pathways that are normally protective. He is also a member of the National Council on the Developing Child which focuses on biological embedding of early life experiences and promoting healthy brain development. He is the co-author of a book with science writer, Elizabeth Lasley, for a lay audience called “The End of Stress as We Know It”, published in 2002, and “The Hostage Brain” with science writer, the late Harold M. Schmeck, Jr., published in 1994.

(1) The Fondation IPSEN
Established in 1983 under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the ambition of the Fondation IPSEN is to initiate a reflection about the major scientific issues of the forthcoming years. The long-standing mission of the Fondation IPSEN is to contribute to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge by fostering interaction between scientists and clinicians. It has developed an important international network of scientific experts who meet regularly at meetings known as Colloques Médecine et Recherche, dedicated to three main topics: neurosciences, endocrinology and cancer science. Moreover the Fondation IPSEN has started several series of meetings in partnership with the Salk Institute, the Karolinska Institute as well as with the journals Cell and Science. The Fondation IPSEN produced several hundred publications and more than 250 scientists have been awarded prizes and grants.

(2) The Endocrine Regulations Prize laureates
Created in 2002, this Prize of the Fondation Ipsen has been awarded to following the renowned specialists: Wylie VALE (2002), Robert LEFKOWITZ (2003), Pierre CHAMBON (2004), Thomas HÖKFELT (2005), Roger CONE (2006), William CROWLEY (2007), Ronald EVANS (2008), Gilbert VASSART (2009), Shlomo MELMED (2010), Paolo SASSONE-CORSI (2011), Jeffrey M. FRIEDMAN (2012), Bert O’MALLEY (2013), Maria I. NEW (2014), C. Ronald Kahn (2015) and John W. FUNDER (2016).

(3) Members of the jury
Iain ROBINSON (National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK), President
Xavier BERTAGNA (Hôpital Cochin, Paris, France)
Felipe CASANUEVA (University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain)
Michael CONN (Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, USA)
Ezio GHIGO (Ospedale Molinette, Turin, Italy)
Ilpo HUHTANIEMI (Imperial College Faculty of Medicine, London, UK)
Gérard KARSENTY (Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA)
Paul KELLY (Faculté de Médecine Necker Enfants Malades, Paris, France)
Stafford LIGHTMAN (University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)
Günter STALLA (Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, München, Germany
Phyllis WISE (University of Illinois, Urbana, USA).

Contact information

Fondation IPSEN
Yannick TANGUY, Tel. : +33 (0)1 58 33 50 00
E-mail :

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