Bruce McEwen

Bruce Sherman McEwen (born January 17, 1938) is an American neuroendocrinologist and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at Rockefeller University. He is known for his work on the effects of environmental and psychological stress, having coined the term allostatic load.

Bruce McEwen
Born (1938-01-17) January 17, 1938[1]
Alma materOberlin College (B.S.), Rockefeller University (Ph.D.)
Known forallostatic load
AwardsDale Medal of the Society for Endocrinology, Karl Spencer Lashley Award (2005), Pasarow Award in Neuropsychiatry (2005), Goldman-Rakic Prize for Cognitive Neuroscience (2005), Gold Medal Award from the Society for Biological Psychiatry (2009), IPSEN Foundations Prize in Neuroplasticity (2010), IPSEN Foundations Prize in Endocrine Regulations (2017)
Scientific career
Fieldsneuroscience, biological psychiatry, endocrinology
InstitutionsRockefeller University, University of Minnesota
ThesisEnergy Metabolism in Cell Nuclei (1964)
Doctoral advisorAlfred Mirsky
Doctoral studentsRobert Sapolsky


McEwen received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Oberlin College and his Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University in 1964. The McEwen laboratory has been at the forefront of estrogen and glucocorticoid action in the brain for decades. McEwen's group demonstrated for the first time that estrogen can increase dendritic spine density in the CA1 subfield of the hippocampus. In addition, his lab also discovered stress-induced dendritic retraction in the CA3 hippocampal subfield. By pioneering the role of both gonadal and adrenal steroid action in the brain, the McEwen laboratory helped develop the modern concept of stress. His current research focuses on glucocorticoids, stress and neuronal degeneration.[2]

McEwen's notable students include Robert Sapolsky, Elizabeth Gould, Catherine Woolley, Michael Meaney, and Heather Cameron.

McEwen is a former president of the Society for Neuroscience and is currently a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.

McEwen published his first paper in 1959, and between then and now, he has published more than 700 peer-reviewed articles in journals including Nature, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, Neurobiology of Aging and The Journal of Neuroscience. His expertise and work have been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, BBC, and in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many others. He is co-author of the book The End of Stress As We Know It, with science writer Elizabeth Norton Lasley, and another book The Hostage Brain, with science writer Harold M. Schmeck Jr. He has received numerous awards including a share of the IPSEN Foundation Prize in Neuroplasticity, the Gold Medal award from the Society for Biological Psychiatry, the Pasarow Award in Neuropsychiatry, the British Endocrine Society's Dale Medal, the Goldman-Rakic Prize for Cognitive Neuroscience from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and the Karl Spencer Lashley Award from the American Philosophical Society.

McEwen is on the Scientific Advisory Board of[3] where he collaborates with Nolan Bushnell,[4] the founding father of video games, and with a team of world-renowned behavioral neuroscientists[5] to create memory, focus and relaxation games for healthy adults over the age of 35.


  1. "CV" (PDF). Seminars in Translational Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  2. McEwen Lab Website
  4. Nolan Bushnell
  5. Anti-AgingGames® Team
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