The Walter Massey Family Lectureship: “What do astrocytes do?”

Date(s) - 07/16/2012
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Speck Auditorium

The Walter Massey Family Lectureship
“What do astrocytes do?”
Ben Barres, Stanford University School of Medicine
July 16, 2012, Speck Auditorium, 8:00 PM


Ben BarresBen A. Barres, MD, PhD
Dr. Barres is Professor of Neurobiology, Developmental Biology, and Neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine.  He received his B.S. degree from MIT, his M.D. degree from Dartmouth Medical School and completed his internship and residency in neurology at the Cornell Cooperating Hospitals Program.  He received his Ph.D. with David Corey at Harvard Medical School, and a postdoctoral fellowship with Martin Raff at University College, London.  Dr. Barres presently serves as Chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University, and serves on many editorial boards including, Science, Development, and the Journal of Cell Biology.  He has won many teaching awards at Stanford including the Kaiser Award for Excellence in Preclinical teaching and the Kaiser Award for Outstanding Contributions to Medical Education.  Dr. Barres is the creator and director of the Masters of Science in Medicine Program, a new program at Stanford University to train Ph.D. students about human biology and disease. He is a founding member of the Myelin Repair Foundation, which focuses on translational research to develop new drugs for Multiple Sclerosis, and a co-founder of a new company Annexon Inc. that is developing new drugs for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.  Dr. Barres is transgendered, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Women in Science, and is an activist for the rights of women and minorities.  His lab focuses on the role of neuron-glial interactions in the CNS, with present emphasis on understanding the basis of CNS regenerative and remyelinative failure, the blood-brain barrier, and the role of astrocytes at synapses in health and disease.



Walter Eugene Massey was born on April 5, 1938, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Almar and Essie Massey. His mother was a teacher and his father worked in a chemical plant. Dr. Massey went on to complete the highest levels of education, earning a B.S. from Morehouse College in 1958 and later his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics at Washington University in 1966. Growing up in racially segregated Mississippi, Dr. Massey did not begin his career with aspirations to become a college president. His proclivity for science led him to a career as a physicist. His research was in the Theory of Quantum Liquids and Solids. The turning point in his career came when he assumed a faculty position at the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1968. The offer to join the faculty coincided with the movement to integrate African Americans into higher education.

Dr. Massey went on to become a professor and later dean of the college at Brown University, vice president for research at the University of Chicago, and Provost of the University of California system. He served as director of Argonne National Laboratory from 1979 through 1984. Following his tenure as Argonne’s director, he served as vice-president for research at the University of Chicago with Argonne National Laboratory being under his supervision. Subsequently, Dr. Massey served as the director of the National Science Foundation from 1990 to 1993. On June 1, 1995, Dr. Massey was named the ninth president of Morehouse College, where he served until 2007.

In recognition of his many accomplishments, Dr. Massey has been awarded more than 40 honorary doctorates and numerous awards for excellence in teaching. In addition, he is active in several professional organizations and maintains a commitment to service through his affiliation with a number of civic, cultural, and community organizations. Dr. Massey lives in Chicago with his wife, Shirley Anne Massey. They have two sons, Keith and Eric, and three grandchildren.

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