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Neuroscientists Receive $3.2 Million to Study Sex Differences in Social Stress in the Brain

July 14, 2016

Media Contacts

Lisa Newbern, 404-727-7709, lisa.newbern@emory.edu

The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) at Georgia State University (GSU) has received a five-year, $3,231,151 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate the neurochemical mechanisms underlying social stress in males and females.  This project represents a collaborative endeavor undertaken by Elliott Albers, PhD, from the CBN and Mark Wilson, PhD, from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University to define the dramatic sex differences in the ways two chemicals in the brain – vasopressin and serotonin – act to regulate social behavior and responsivity to social stressors.

Using both rodent and nonhuman primate models, this exciting project will test the overarching hypothesis that phenotypes characterized by dominance and active coping strategies are more resilient to stress than those characterized by subordinate status.

“We are excited by the potential of this innovative research to both define the basic brain mechanisms involved in regulating the expression of social behavior and to have a substantial translational impact by defining gender-specific strategies for promoting stress resilience in the development of treatments for psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD,” says Dr. Albers, CBN Director and Regents Professor of Neuroscience at GSU.  “Our studies have the potential to have an almost immediate clinical impact by guiding different drug treatments for stress reduction in men and women as well as by guiding drug development.”  

Dr. Wilson adds, “This project reflecting studies of both hamsters and rhesus monkeys holds the promise of identifying sex differences in mechanisms responsible for resilience to social stressors that have tremendous translational value to identify interventional strategies to reduce the health burden chronic stress causes people.” Wilson is Professor of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

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For more information on Dr. Mark Wilson and the research being performed in his laboratory, visit http://www.yerkes.emory.edu/research/divisions/developmental_cognitive_neuroscience/wilson_mark.html.

For more information on Dr. Elliott Albers and the research being conducted in his laboratory, visit http://neuroscience.gsu.edu/profile/h-elliott-albers/.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.5 billion budget, 17,600 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,700 students and trainees, and a $5.7 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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