Margaret McCarthy | Neuroinflammation and Neuroepigenetics Converge at Sex Differences in the Brain | February 28

Event date/time: 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 3:45pm to 5:00pm
222 Morrill Science Center

Margaret McCarthy discusses groundbreaking research at the McCarthy Lab (University of Maryland, Baltimore), on the mechanisms that underlie sex differences in the brain. Her talk at 4 pm will be preceded by a reception with light refreshments at 3:45 pm; please RSVP to assist our planning.


Margaret McCarthy is a leading neuroscientist who has made significant discoveries related to gender differences and the brain. Her seminal research focuses on the influence of steroid hormones on the developing brain with a special emphasis on understanding the cellular mechanisms that establish sex differences—that is, the numerous, novel mechanisms (including roles for prostaglandins, endocannabinoids, amino acid transmitters, and multiple enzymes) by which steroids permanently organize the developing brain differently in males and females. Dr. McCarthy conducted some of the first studies on how steroid hormones can imprint epigenetically on the developing brain to organize differences between males and females in adult physiology and behavior.

More recently, her laboratory generated a paradigm shift in understanding of sexual differentiation of sexual behavior with the discovery that the feminization program of development requires suppression of the masculinization program via DNA methylation, and that steroid hormones emancipate the male gene expression profile by reducing activity of DNA methylating enzymes. Her laboratory has also studied inflammatory and immune-mediated sex differences in the brain, sensitive periods in brain development, neurogenesis in the postnatal brain, and the role of GABA in brain differences. By increasing understanding of how the brain develops differently in males and females, Dr. McCarthy has revealed both naturally occurring variation as well as highlight points of vulnerability and nodes for intervention in treatment of developmental neuropsychiatric disorders with a gender bias.

This seminar is supported by the ISSR Scholars Program, promoting successful research and grants development for social science faculty across the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. McCarthy visits UMass to collaborate with ISSR Scholar Joseph Bergan (Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences). The talk is co-sponsored by the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences Graduate Program in Neuroscience & Behavior.