| Dr. Robert Sapolsky
What motivates a young student from Brooklyn to study baboons in East Africa? What keeps him returning there for three decades and more? For Dr. Robert Sapolsky, the answer is his interest in studying stress-related disease. Sapolsky’s laboratory work on neurons dovetailed nicely with his observations about how stress affects individuals and societies. Writing in his insightful, humorous and compassionate book A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons, Sapolsky notes that he observed that baboons were the perfect subject because they live in big, complex social groups and have enough sunlight each day “to devote to being rotten to each other.”
He will present his research on “Stress and Health: From Molecules to Societies,” from 3 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28, in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. His lecture is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging as part of the Florence Mahoney Lectures on Aging, under the auspices of the NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series.
The John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn professor of biology, neurology and neurosurgery at Stanford University, Sapolsky is also a research associate at the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museums of Kenya. Over the last 30 years, he has divided his time between neurobiology research in the laboratory and the study of wild baboons in the African savannah. His work at Stanford focuses on the effects of stress and stress hormones on the brain while his field work examines what social rank, personality and patterns of social affiliation have to do with patterns of stress-related disease in a baboon model.
Sapolsky earned an undergraduate degree in biological anthropology from Harvard University, summa cum laude, in 1978 and a Ph.D. in neuroendocrinology from Rockefeller University in 1984. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Klingenstein Fellowship in Neuroscience and the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. In 2007, he received the John P. McGovern Award for Behavioral Science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, Sapolsky’s books include Stress, the Aging Brain, and the Mechanisms of Neuron Death; Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Disease and Coping; ‘The Trouble With Testosterone’ and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament; and ‘Monkeyluv’ and Other Essays on Our Lives as Animals.
A reception will follow the presentation.—Anne Decker