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McEwen To Speak on Chronic Stress, Disease Risk at NCCAM Lecture, Mar. 31

Did you know that daily, low-level stress — a hallmark of modern living — can significantly increase the risk for development of serious disease later in life? The hormones released by the neuroendocrine system produce subtle injuries to the body's immune system over time, setting in motion a cascade of effects that can make "burn-out" in our older years more than a figure of speech. Scientific understanding of this process has advanced substantially in recent years, establishing the framework for developing solutions and treatments to help combat the debilitating effects of the human "rat race."

On Wednesday, Mar. 31, one of the leading researchers in the field, Dr. Bruce McEwen, will address "From Molecules to Mind: Stress, Individual Differences and the Social Environment" as the first guest speaker in the 2004 series of Distinguished Lectures in the Science of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, hosted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The lecture will take place at noon in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. McEwen is Alfred E. Mirsky professor and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch laboratory of neuroendocrinology at the Rockefeller University.

Dr. Bruce McEwen
Co-author of a new book for a lay audience titled The End of Stress as We Know It, McEwen obtained his Ph.D. in cell biology from the Rockefeller University, where he was appointed as professor in 1981. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health, in which he is helping to reformulate concepts and measurements related to stress and stress hormones in the context of human societies.
McEwen will detail the complex, sometimes deleterious role that the neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous systems play in the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. He will explain the concept of "allostatic load" resulting from hormones associated with stress. These hormones protect the body in the short run and promote adaptation. In the long run, however, allostatic load causes pathophysiologic changes in the body that can lead to disease, as will be illustrated for the immune system and in the regions of the brain involved in fear and cognitive function.

All are invited to attend the lecture. It will also be webcast on For reasonable accommodation, contact Terence Hope at (301) 402-9686, or the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339.

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