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2019 Gill Symposium to explore sex differences in the brain

Aug 14, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Free registration is open for the annual symposium of the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science at Indiana University Bloomington.

The 2019 Gill Symposium will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Whittenberger Auditorium of the Indiana Memorial Union. The event is free, but registration is required.

The theme of this year’s symposium is “Sex Differences in the Brain.” Many brain disorders vary between men and women in their prevalence, age of onset, symptoms and response to treatment. Five scientists conducting research on differences, or the lack thereof, between the male and female brain will present at the symposium.

The five speakers are:

  • Deborah Clegg of the American University in Washington, D.C., who focuses on delineating the impact of sex hormones on energy homeostasis, metabolic function and fatty tissue distribution. Her work has elevated understanding of the importance of sex as playing a role in metabolism, and the progression of vascular diseases.
  • Barry Dickson of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus, who focuses on finding answers to the fundamental question of whether single genes are important for the specification of behavior. His work has unambiguously defined a single gene, named “fruitless,” as responsible for a complex courtship behavior in the fruit fly, Drosophila.
  • Catherine Dulac of Harvard University, who is best known for her work on the role of pheromone receptors underlying sex-specific, innate behaviors in rodents. She has played a pioneering role in the understanding of neural circuits and their underlying social behaviors.
  • Margaret M. McCarthy of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who has a long-standing interest in advancing understanding of cellular mechanisms involved in establishing sex differences in the brain. Using a combination of behavioral and mechanistic approaches in the rodent, she has worked to identify how processes might go selectively awry in males or females.
  • Catherine Woolley of Northwestern University, who focuses on how gonadal steroids regulate synaptic function, and the consequences of steroid-driven synaptic modulation for behavior. Her lab has demonstrated sex differences in synaptic mechanisms whose distinct molecular signaling pathways converge to produce the same functional results in males and females.

The speakers will also be honored with Transformative Investigator awards, an annual award that recognizes scientist who have made exceptional contributions to cellular or molecular neuroscience.

A poster session and reception will follow the symposium from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Indiana Memorial Union Solarium. A complete schedule of the symposium is on the Gill Center’s website.

Applications are also sought for two other awards at this year’s symposium: outstanding scientific image and outstanding graduate student thesis. The deadline for both applications is Aug. 23.

The Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science, part of the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, was established by a gift from Linda and Jack Gill to advance the understanding of complex biological processes and to train the next generation of scientists in biomolecular measurements, especially in the field of neuroscience. Members and collaborators include faculty from IU’s departments of biology, chemistry, medical sciences, molecular and cellular biochemistry, neuroscience, physics, and psychological and brain sciences, all in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, and the IU School of Medicine.

For more information, contact Trisha Turner at


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