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  April 4, 2000

Noted Neuroscientists Join Faculty

Two scientists well known for their neuroscience research have joined the faculty of the UConn Health Center.

Richard E. Mains, joined the faculty this month; Elizabeth A. Eipper, his collaborator, will be on campus full time starting July 1. Previously both held faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University.

Mains will take over as professor and head of the Health Center's new Department of Neuroscience. He will hold the William Beecher Scoville Chair in Neuroscience.

Eipper will hold a joint position as professor of physiology and professor of neuroscience.

"Drs. Mains and Eipper are two outstanding researchers in the area of brain peptide biochemistry," says Richard Berlin, professor and head of the Department of Physiology and dean for research at the Health Center. "They bring a wealth of experience and graduate education in neurosciences. They also bring a broad vision for the development of the field and for the development of a department of modern neuroscience."

Neuroscience is a discipline concerned with growth, development and function of the nervous system. The Department of Neurosciences will incorporate elements from anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology and surgery into a single department and continue to have a strong association with departments and specialists from psychiatry, endocrinology and neurology.

"It's fun to make things change; to pull together a department with such diverse interests - from molecules to human psychophysics; to reorganize things in a new way and then to keep it together," says Mains.

Mains and Eipper have concentrated their research on the endocrine system - the series of glands that secrete hormones - and on peptide producing neurons.

"I look forward to continuing our work deciphering the role of peptides in neurons and endocrine cells," Eipper says. "Studying these most ancient of signaling molecules continues to offer new insight into fundamental processes like neuronal proliferation and differentiation. I'm confident the opportunity to pursue our studies in the collegial and enthusiastic atmosphere of the Health Center will facilitate the discovery process."

Eipper received her undergraduate and master's degrees from Brown. She earned a doctorate from Harvard in biophysics and was a post-doctoral fellow in endocrinology at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

She has more than 130 scientific papers to her credit and has written scientific book reviews and chapters. In 1997, she was Elizabeth Dunaway-Burnham Fellow at Dartmouth Medical School. Her research has been supported by two consecutive MERIT Awards from the National Institutes of Health.

Mains also holds undergraduate and master's degrees from Brown, and a doctorate from Harvard in neurobiology. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Oregon and a faculty member at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, before joining Johns Hopkins.

Mains has written more than 125 research papers, as well as scientific book reviews and chapters. He has addressed scientific meetings in the United States, Canada and Japan, among other countries. He holds a patent that was awarded in 1987.

Patrick Keefe