Neuroendocrine Studies Program at UMass Amherst Gains Top-Notch Trainees Through New Grant

AMHERST, Mass. - With the help of a $697,370 training grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health, five researchers at the University of Massachusetts will study how hormones interact with the brain, other parts of the body, and behavior. The research will be conducted through the multidisciplinary program in the Center of Neuroendocrine Studies (CNS). Geert DeVries, grant coordinator and professor in the psychology department, says the grant has helped the University attract three top graduate students, and will help bring two postdoctoral researchers to campus later this year.

"A training grant doesn''t change the focus of our own research, but it gives us an edge in the fierce competition for top students and postdocs who will benefit from spending a few years in our multidisciplinary training program," explains DeVries. "We''ll gain from the transfer of knowledge between labs, and they''ll gain from a multidisciplinary experience in neuroendocrine research that would be hard to find somewhere else."

UMass graduate students conducting research as part of the grant include: Susan Zup, who will be studying the sexual differentiation of the central nervous system; Juli Jones, doing research on the balance between reproduction and nutrition; and Eric Ianaconne, who will study environmental pollutants and brain development. The researchers will have the opportunity to work with faculty in the departments of biology, psychology, and veterinary and animal sciences at UMass, or with faculty at Smith College, which is a participant in the CNS program.

Other CNS projects currently underway include explorations of the relationship of environmental pollutants to reproduction, the role of nutrition in determining fertility, behavioral and environmental influences on neurohormone production and hormonal response, sexual differentiation of the nervous system and behavior, neuroendocrine control of circadian rhythms, and hormonal regulation of behaviors. The center fosters research by sponsoring scientific meetings, facilitating the flow of information among laboratories, and coordinating efforts at UMass and Smith to support training and research, according to DeVries.

NOTE: Geert J. De Vries can be reached at 413/545-0663, or

For information on the Center for Neuroendocrinology, see