UMass Amherst neuroscientist Luke Remage-Healey will receive the 2012 Frank A. Beach Award from the Society for Behavioral Endocrinology for work showing exceptional promise and significant contributions in the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology. Named after a founder of the field, the award will be presented during the society's annual meeting this week in New Orleans. Remage-Healey will also give a lecture at the society's annual meeting next year.
Society president Jeffrey Blaustein, who is also director of the UMass Amherst Center for Neuroendocrine Studies, announced the honor. He wrote, "I am delighted to announce this, both as president of the society and as Luke's colleague. This is a prestigious award and a well-deserved, terrific honor."
Remage-Healey, an assistant professor of psychology, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and leads behavioral physiology research in zebra finches, in particular how steroid hormones regulate brain function and behavior. "We've been studying two concepts in neuroendocrinology and how they intersect," he says. "One is that hormones like estrogens can have very rapid effects on the brain and on behavior in males as well as females. The second is that estrogens are produced in the brain. This award signifies that the link between these ideas is solidifying and gathering mainstream momentum."
Remage-Healey calls UMass Amherst's neuroendocrine studies program "a vibrant center" for such work, and says he is honored to stand beside other researchers who have won the Beach Award. "The Society has always placed a significant emphasis on what we can learn from so-called comparative model systems like frogs, birds and fish, beyond the traditional lab mice and rats. Breakthroughs come from many unexpected directions."
He and colleagues study these phenomena in songbirds using a variety of technical approaches including microdialysis, electrophysiology, immunocytochemistry and neuropharmacology. Songbirds offer a unique model system in which brain steroid production is widespread and especially pronounced, and where development and expression of a suite of social behaviors is accessible in the lab and natural environments.
"The Beach Award lectures provide a fascinating look at the different paths people have taken in the field. Past lectures have offered new insight at the intersection of behavior, neurobiology and endocrinology. I'm really thrilled to be carrying on that tradition." says Remage-Healey.