It is with great sadness we share that Bruce McEwen passed away on January 2nd, 2020.
Many of you knew him over many decades. For those of you who did not know him, here is a little background, although these words do not do justice. Bruce made pioneering discoveries about steroid hormones, including sex hormones, the hippocampus, and brain remodeling, and continued throughout his career with a steady shower of innovative findings about the brain’s plasticity. He coined the concept of ‘allostatic load’ and developed increasingly extensive models about the social, behavioral, and psychological influences on neuronal health. He became a champion against toxic stress and health inequities, including his work with the MacArthur network on SES and Health and his newer Allostatic load and Mental Health network. He took joy in connecting people to each other. He bridged silos and embraced a diversity of disciplines to better understand mind, brain and bodily health.
In his long career, he never stopped devising studies, advising colleagues, reading, writing (prolifically, 1200+ publications), and delighting in new discoveries across fields. In a recent paper, “Redefining neuroendocrinology: Epigenetics of brain-body communication over the life course,” Bruce summarized the field (‘from molecules to social organization’), and a personal account of his lab’s role, and his work as part of interdisciplinary groups.
Bruce put the collective pursuit of knowledge over ego and fostered a healthy culture of science. He embodied integrative thinking, generosity, and compassion. He was a dedicated mentor to many of us, to several generations, from neuroscientists to population scientists. Bruce was one of my dissertation advisors 20 years ago, influencing the trajectory of my own work.
Bruce became a member of ABMR in the 90s. He was planning to join our annual meeting this summer, and although he did not know it, he was going to receive the ABMR Lifetime Achievement Award. We will honor his life, together in June. He will be deeply missed, but his legacy lives on, in us, in science, and in society.
His memorial service will be sometime in the spring, announced by Rockefeller University. More details below, including about donations to causes he worked on, science education for youth.
With a heavy heart,
President of ABMR
& ABMR Executive Committee