Stephanie Brown, PhD Appointed Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science

Stephanie Brown, PhD

October 2, 2013 - Stephanie Brown, PhD has joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science as an Associate Professor, where she will continue her studies of the biological and evolutionary bases of altruism and their applications to medicine. Dr. Brown has been on the faculty of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics in Stony Brook’s Department of Preventive Medicine for the past 4 years.

A native of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, Dr. Brown received her masters and doctoral degrees in social psychology from Arizona State University. After conducting post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan, she joined Michigan’s Institute for Social Research to investigate social support and depression among dialysis patients with funding from a NIMH Research Scientist Career Development Award. In 2006 she was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor where she began using neuroimaging to explore the biological bases of helping behavior.

Her current research is aimed at testing how helping behavior may improve the health of the helper. “Studies have shown that people who help others live longer,” Dr. Brown said, “but understanding how this happens is something of a black box. We are testing the possibility that neurobiological mechanisms that motivate parental behavior can be triggered when humans help others. Interestingly, activation of “parenting” neural circuitry may lead to a cascade of events that reduce exposure to harmful levels of stress hormones, promote physiological homeostasis, and release hormones that protect against chronic inflammation, and thus may help individuals fight or recover from inflammatory diseases, including cancer.”

She hopes that her new colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science can help her use advanced neuroimaging techniques to learn more about brain regions related to helping behavior, social relationships, empathy, stress, and physical and mental health.