More Book Summaries: Sex/Gender and Race in Genetics + Animals in the Lab and in the ‘Wild’

I just finished another set of readings for my orals list on “History of American Post-War Science and Feminism” with Susan Lindee. Read my summaries below and make sure to check out Etienne Benson’s site with many more resources on “wilderness” and STS. Continue reading

What Kind of a Sex/Gender Model Do We Need in the Lab?

Do you remember my post about the all-too-easy concept of attending to sex and gender in biomedical research (“What Kind of Sex Do We Need in the Lab?”)? Sarah Richardson and her colleagues just published a very insightful, informative, and important piece that is much more scientifically sophisticated than my short statement. “Focus on Preclinical Sex Differences Will Not Address Women’s and Men’s Health Disparities,” so the title. Check it out!

Thanks are due to Londa Schiebinger who, as so often, drew my attention to the publication through her Gendered Innovations newsletter.

Eradicating Evil by Coloring Rodent Neurons?

According to Ghahreman Khodadad (p. 3), Susan Dymecki and her team at Harvard Medical School contribute to deciphering the biological mechanisms underlying “excessive selfishness and aggression.” Ghahreman Khodadad is a remarkable person and on top of that the provider of the CNS’s major endowment for its Public Talk Series. “Dr. K.,” as some Penn neuroscientists lovingly call him, believes that only switching off this “deeply rooted and complex behavioral neurobiological disorder,” the excessive selfishness, can bring peace to human societies.

What follows now is a potentially unintelligible account of the Dymecki Lab’s research as Susan Dymecki presented it on December 4 at Penn, titled: “A Specialized Subtype of Serotonergic Neuron Shapes Social Behavior in Mice.” I did my best to follow along, and the methods of tracing the expression of certain serotonergic neurons are truly fascinating (and somehow totally beyond me). Continue reading

There WAS Plasticity in Brain Sex Difference Research! (Part I)

JAS-Med 2014 at Baltimore was a fantastic conference. The papers were of really high quality, the talks engaging, and the attendees kind and curious. I hope to be able to provide pictures soon.

As you may have assumed already, I presented parts of my research project on the intersection of adult neurogenesis (ANG) research and the neuroscientific quest for sex/gender differences in brains. As mentioned earlier, it is puzzling to read the standard account of ANG history—or, more broadly, of brain plasticity—and then realize that none of these ideas of malleable brains have had influence on rigid neural and social sex/gender classifications, as Rebecca Jordan-Young, Catherine Vidal, Cordelia Fine et al., and others argue. Continue reading