Ben Barres

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Ben A. Barres
Fields Neurobiology
Institutions Stanford University
Alma mater M.I.T., Dartmouth College, Harvard University

Ben A. Barres M.D., Ph.D. is an American neurobiologist who teaches at Stanford University. His research focuses on the interaction between neurons and glial cells in the nervous system. He is currently Chair of the Neurobiology department at Stanford University School of Medicine.


Barres has a degree in biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School, neurology residency training at Weill Cornell, and a doctorate in neurobiology from Harvard University.[1] He did his postdoctoral training at University College London.


Since 1993, Barres has been a professor of Neurobiology at the Stanford School of Medicine. He studies the development and function of glial cells in the mammalian central nervous system. He has pioneered novel methods to culture and purify glial cells from rodents' optic nerves (oligodendrocytes and astrocytes) and the neurons they interact with (retinal ganglion cells).

Experience of sexism in the scientific community[edit]

Barres was critical of Lawrence Summers and others who have claimed that one reason there are fewer women than men in science and engineering professorships might be that fewer women than men had the very high levels of "intrinsic aptitude" that such jobs required.[2] He speaks and writes openly about being a trans man and his experiences transitioning gender identity in 1997,[3] and his experiences of being treated differently as a female scientist versus a male scientist.[4]

More recently, Barres directed a series of "open questions" to Steven Pinker and Harvey Mansfield in a formal address at Harvard, challenging the data supporting their arguments.[5]


Barres' research awards include a Life Sciences Research Fellowship, the Klingenstein Fellowship Award, a McKnight Investigator Award,[6] and a Searle Scholar Award. He has also won teaching awards: the Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Kaiser Award for Innovative and Outstanding Contributions to Medical Education.



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